Following the decision win, a clear sign of Hermansson’s elevated stock was former champion Chris Weidman tweeting his interest in a showdown with “The Joker”. Although the New Yorker was previously one of the names that topped the Swede’s list of prospective opponents, with him now sitting a ranking spot ahead of Weidman, he no longer sees him as his “first choice” for his next dance partner in the Octagon.
“He’s one [ranking spot] behind me so it would’ve felt better if it was Gastelum or Romero who was accepting the fight,” Hermansson told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“With Weidman, I’m a little bit picky now, he’s not my first choice. I would love to fight Kelvin Gastelum or Yoel Romero. Yoel Romero was supposed to have that fight with Paulo Costa, so I think those two will fight. I think Gastelum, he just fought, so he probably wants a break just like I do. I think we could both agree to a fight this fall, that would be perfect.”
Speaking at the post-fight press conference after his win over Souza, Hermansson underlined that he would next request a fight that would put him in title contention. Considering who could get him involved in the championship stakes, “The Joker” highlighted Romero as the man who would guarantee him a shot at gold if he claimed a victory over him.
“That’s why I want to fight [Romero],” Hermansson said. “It’s not because I think he’s an easy fight; I think he’s probably the hardest fight for me out there. But, I know with a win over him you can’t deny me a title shot. He’s the man to beat and that’s why I want to fight him.”
When asked for a prediction as to who his next opponent would be, Hermansson pointed to Gastelum as a likely assignment.
“What we know is, Israel [Adesanya] and [Robert] Whittaker will fight. The highest ranked guy outside of them is Romero, if I could fight him this fall, that would be perfect. I have a feeling that the Gastelum fight is the one that’s going to happen. I think that’s a fight that the UFC will want to set up; I have a feeling that’s the next one.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Jack Hermansson interview begins at 6:00.