Jack Hermansson’s fifth time stepping into the main event spotlight of a UFC card proved to be one of the most important moments of his career.
After going a subpar 1-3 in previous headlining opportunities, many thought Hermansson (24-8 MMA, 11-6 UFC) was being set up for a loss against surging Dana White’s Contender Series alum Joe Pyfer (12-3 MMA, 3-1 UFC) going into Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 236 at the UFC Apex.
Hermansson lost the opening two rounds against Pyfer in the middleweight bout before he turned the tide and claimed the final three rounds to win a unanimous decision. It was a hard-fought effort, and a deserved result for Hermansson, who was returning to competition from a career-long 14-month layoff due to injury. Moreover, he hadn’t seen his hand raised in nearly 19 months, so the pressure was on “The Joker” to make something happen.
He did that by implementing his five-round fight experience against Pyfer, and now Hermansson should move on to bigger and better opportunities. He came into the fight No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie middleweight rankings, and after defending his spot against an unranked name, he should get the chance to fight upward.
It’s clear Hermansson, 35, has that same belief, with a plan in mind, as well. He called out Nassourdine Imavov, who beat Roman Dolidze by unanimous decision in a main event in the same venue just one week prior to Hermansson. It might not be the sexiest bout on paper, but it’s grounded in logic on both sides, and likely the way to go.
Hermansson said he would relish the chance to fight someone like Khamzat Chimaev or Brendan Allen, though the path to getting those fights isn’t as clear.
Imavov is the better fit at the moment. It seems destined to be the main event of another card at the UFC Apex, but with both men hailing from Europe, it would also be a fantastic fit for a fight card overseas, whenever that may be.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 236.