Jack Hermansson is on a mission to capture UFC gold.
With three straight stoppage wins inside the Octagon, “The Joker” catapulted himself into the rankings of the middleweight division with a stunning submission of David Branch. But to call his next challenge the greatest of his career, that would be an understatement of epic proportions.
Stepping in for the sick Yoel Romero, Hermansson will make his walk to the Octagon to face former Strikeforce champion and perennial UFC contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on Saturday at UFC Fort Lauderdale. By the time he squares off against his Brazilian foe, only three weeks will have passed from Hermansson’s last win.
But Hermansson had no intention of turning down the fight when asked.
“I didn’t hesitate when I got the opportunity,” Hermansson told Luke Thomas during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “I was just like, ‘Let’s do this.’ I’ve wanted to fight Jacare for a long time and be the best in the division, so you’ve got to take opportunities like this. My body is fine and now it’s just a refocus and get it done.”
Hermansson brings a devastating skillset on the ground into UFC Fort Lauderdale. With a pair of submission wins along with a skulling-rattling TKO on his UFC résumé, Hermansson has proven to do most of his damage once the fight hits the canvas. But Souza is a 6th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as a multiple-time grappling champion, meaning he will be more than willing to let his Norwegian opponent look for the takedown.
But for Hermansson, these accolades means nothing once the Octagon doors close.
“I’m not afraid to go [to the ground with Souza],” said Hermansson. “I will take him down and I will do what I do. He has a really good ground game but I have a really good medicine for that and that’s the best ground-and-pound in the world. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re tasting a little bit of these fists, then suddenly you’re not that good on the ground anymore.
“He’s still amazingly good,” Hermansson added. “But, of course, he’s probably past his physical prime. But, you know, I expect he’s going to be as good as ever. But if he’s going to be in his best physical shape ever? I am not sure.”
As for where a win over the No. 3 ranked fighter in the division would put him, Hermansson laid out exactly what his plan is for the coming months.
“I think [a win] puts me at the top of the division,” said Hermansson. “Of course Israel Adesanya and [Kelvin] Gastelum are going to fight and then the winner will probably fight (Robert) Whittaker when he gets healthy. But, if I can get the fight, or maybe they put together Paulo Costa and Romero and then the winner will fight me, and then the winner there will be fighting for the title. That will be possible and that is what is so great with this [opportunity].”