Entering the Octagon at UFC Fort Lauderdale, Jack Hermansson had two things in mind: win and catapult himself into middleweight division’s top five. Well, not only did he succeed he did so in a way few could have envisioned.
Standing opposite from Hermansson inside the Octagon was Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, one of the most decorated grapplers in mixed martial arts history. With a plethora of gold medals from his time competing in the jiu-jitsu world, combined with 14 submission wins in his MMA career, Souza’s opponents are essentially a fish out of water when they find themselves stuck on the canvas with the Brazilian.
Too bad Hermansson didn’t get the memo as he not only took Souza down repeatedly but came within inches of submitting him with a tight guillotine in the first round.
“The game plan was to mix it up,” Hermansson said during the post-fight press conference. “Later in the rounds, I was a little tired so I didn’t have that drive in my takedowns. I wanted the fight even more on the ground than we actually were. But I was really, really close [to winning] in the first. I was close to finishing that guillotine. But Jacare showed how good he really is because I would have finished nine out of 10 guys down there. But I didn’t finish him. ... It was so, so, so close. It was just a small adjustment. I am going to go back — this is the choke I’ve been hitting lately. I am going to perfect it even more in practice to make sure no one gets out of it again. It was really close but he did a good job to get out of there.”
But even though he didn’t hand Souza the first submission loss of his career, was he at least happy to get his first five round fight under his belt? Not exactly.
“I didn’t want it to go five rounds,” Hermansson said. “It’s terrible to be in there for five rounds. It’s a long time, I was super tired and I wanted to get out of there. My coaches were telling me ‘Now Jack, in this round you’re going to keep the distance’ and I’m like ‘No I ain’t. I am going to take him down. I want to be on top. I don’t want to stick and move and I don’’t want to dance. I want to be out of here.’ So, I threw a couple of hard punches to take him down.”
As for Souza, while he was more than complimentary towards his opponent, he hung his head low as he reflected on his own performance inside the BB&T Center.
“[Hermansson] came with a good game plan and surprised me,” Souza said. “I am sad because I did a great training camp for this fight, I don’t feel tired but I can’t put my game on in the Octagon. I’m bad right now. I just [didn’t] do my best inside the Octagon. He came with the good game plan and I don’t put my game to work. I am bad. But congrats to Jack, he did a great job tonight.”
This victory pushed Hermansson’s win streak to four straight inside the Octagon, while marking just his fourth career win to reach the judge’s scorecard
“It was a confirmation,” Hermansson said when asked his win was a confidence booster. “I thought I was that good and now I know.”