Jack Hermansson had a slow start but he delivered a punishing performance in rounds two and three to win a unanimous decision over highly touted prospect Edmen Shahbazyan to kick off the UFC Vegas 27 main card.
After eating a number of stiff shots on the feet in the first round, Hermansson turned to his grappling to drown Shahbazyan with a vicious ground-and-pound attack in the final 10 minutes to ultimately secure the victory. All three judges scored the fight 29-27 for Hermansson, which meant he earned a 10-8 round in the third where it appeared he was close to finishing Shahbazyan late in the fight.
“I wasn’t happy I couldn’t find my timing in the beginning,” Hermansson said afterwards. “I felt like a beginner in the stand up with Edmen. I managed to dig a little bit deep and use my skills to my advantage. I managed to switch it up. I fought with urgency.”
Best known for his striking, Shahbazyan was quick to take the center of the octagon where he began unleashing some fast and vicious combinations. Shahbayzan threw a laser-like jab and then followed with a stiff uppercut that was finding a home on Hermansson’s chin with regularity.
The right hand continued to pay dividends for Shahbazyan throughout the opening round with blood beginning to trickle out of Hermansson’s nose as he desperately tried to find a way to close the distance.
Finally at the start of round two, Hermansson rushed forward and grabbed onto the takedown while looking to use his grappling to slow Shahbazyan down. Methodical on top, Hermansson chipped away with short strikes while maintaining control on the ground.
With time running out in the second round, Shahbazyan managed to get a quick reversal and he began hammering down on Hermannson before time ran out on him.
During the final five-minute session, Hermansson was able to drag Shahbazyan down to the canvas again where he opened up cuts around the eyes with his punishing ground-and-pound. As Shahbazyan struggled to break free, Hermansson really started blasting away with a vicious series of punches and elbows that helped him secure the round and the victory.
With limited options available to him right now, Hermansson targeted a former champion who doesn’t have a fight right now or he might be waiting until later this year for another top-ranked middleweight to become available for his next fight.
“The only one that’s ranked above me that doesn’t have a fight right now is Robert Whittaker,” Hermansson said. “If he doesn’t want to sit and wait for the title, I’m up for the challenge. If not we have the winner of [Darren] Till and [Derek] Brunson or the winner of [Jared] Cannonier and [Paulo] Costa.”