Jack Hermansson doesn’t spent much time paying attention to what Sean Strickland has to say. But it’s been nearly impossible to avoid some of it while preparing for their fight in the main event at UFC Vegas 47 on Saturday.
While Strickland hasn’t directly tried to disparage Hermansson, he’s spent plenty of time detailing how it would make him “super happy” to actually kill an opponent in the octagon. If not for finding MMA and using that as an outlet for his anger, Strickland said he would “fantasize” about murdering someone all the time.
Of course, Hermansson doesn’t necessarily take anything Strickland is saying at face value but he also knows those kinds of statements are just detrimental to the sport as a whole.
“Our sport has always been controversial in the sense of that we actually are fighting with as few rules as we can have and still be safe,” Hermansson told MMA Fighting. “In Norway where I live, MMA is still illegal, which means that we can’t be fighting on our home turf and we are fighting for it to be legal.
“When people in this sport are saying those kinds of things, it’s not actually helping our cause. I definitely could wish that people were a little bit more careful with that kind of stuff. As long as I represent the sport in a good way, hopefully it will be fine.”
During a long battle to get MMA legalized in states such as New York, legislators opposed to the sport would reference injuries suffered in fights as well as comments like those from Strickland in an attempt to prove the barbaric nature of the competition.
Whether Strickland is sincere or not when it comes to his outlandish fantasies, Hermansson knows it doesn’t help newcomers to actually appreciate the sport while also potentially giving detractors ammunition against MMA being legalized in a country like Norway.
“It doesn’t play in our favor,” Hermansson said. “We just have to keep reminding people that most people are not like Sean. Hopefully, it’s just a thing that he puts into his character. Let’s hope so.”
As far as how he’ll deal with Strickland during fight week, Hermansson doesn’t expect things to suddenly turn personal after the two of them haven’t said much about each other.
Even if Strickland continues to fetishize his desire for a death in the UFC, Hermansson isn’t going to let anything get under his skin as he remains focused on the task at hand because winning is really the only thing that matters to him right now.
“What can you say?” Hermansson said. “You can shake your head and laugh about it but I haven’t felt any agony towards me or anything. I anticipate that he’s going to be crazy, maybe say some crazy things. But he’s not necessarily disrespectful, he’s just saying crazy stuff. It isn’t necessarily trash talk.
“I’m ready for whatever, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some controversial lines during the build up to the fight.”