For the third time in as many bouts, Hermansson will be fighting down the rankings on February 5. After a memorable first-round submission win against Kelvin Gastelum shot him into title contention in 2020, a main event loss to then-rising contender Marvin Vettori stalled his championship aspirations.
Having rebounded by adding another defeat to the record of Edmen Shahbazyan last year, “The Joker” is hoping to halt the charge of Strickland in what will be the 33-year-old’s fourth headlining bout in MMA’s premier promotion.
Ahead of his return to the Octagon, Hermansson spoke to MMA News about the threat “Tarzan” poses, his experience wrestling Khamzat Chimaev in 2021, Francis Ngannou‘s ongoing contractual dispute with the UFC, and his thoughts on the upcoming 185-pound title fight between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker.
Hermansson Looks To Avoid “Grueling” Fight
In Hermansson’s way of staking a claim for a championship opportunity is Strickland, a unique, and perhaps downright bizarre, individual. But whether fans love his carefree attitude or look down at his outspoken personality, no one can deny his fighting ability.
Since returning from the Octagon in 2020 after two years on the sidelines, “Tarzan” has been at his best. After getting back on track with wins against Nordine Taleb and Jack Marshman, the 30-year-old recorded victories over highly-touted prospect Brendan Allen and middleweight mainstay Krzysztof Jotko.
With a fifth straight win last July, a dominant main event triumph over divisional veteran Uriah Hall, Strickland has established himself as a genuine contender at 185 pounds.
With his opponent’s form and durability in mind, Hermansson is hoping to end things quick come fight night. The Swedish-born Norwegian told MMA News he’s targeting a first or second-round finish when he goes toe-to-toe with Strickland inside Las Vegas’ Apex facility.
To do so, the game plan is simple: hit him.
“You know, I don’t want a hard, tough, long, grueling fight with Sean, even though I know that’s a possibility,” Hermansson told James Lynch. “I want a quick, nice finish and that’s how I envision the fight (going). So, I’m gonna go in there, I’m gonna be precise, and I’m gonna hit him and make it a quick night. First or second-round finish.”
If Hermansson is to ascend closer to a date with the champion, he’ll have to join an exclusive club that currently boasts only reigning welterweight king Kamaru Usman, 28-5 UFC vet Santiago Ponzinibbio, and knockout machine Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.
That club? The group of fighters who have managed to have their hand raised against “Tarzan.”
Given only three have managed it in Strickland’s 27 professional fights, Hermansson will certainly have to be at his best to get the job done on Saturday night.
Who do you think will have their hand raised in the UFC Vegas 47 main event, Jack Hermansson or Sean Strickland?