Jack Hermansson feels right at home being back for a fight week in London.
He hasn’t fought in England since 2016, his last fight in the Cage Warriors promotion, but there’s something about being back on those same streets that brings him peace. But the journey to get there wasn’t as peaceful as Hermansson would’ve hoped, when his original opponent - Darren Till - withdrew from the fight just weeks ago due to an injury.
That’s when middleweight Chris Curtis stepped in on short notice.
“It’s always tricky to find an opponent so close to the fight, but when I got Chris, I was just happy that somebody was stepping in because there is so much preparation going into a fight,” Hermansson said ahead of his bout at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Aspinall. “I couldn’t stand it if the fight wasn’t going to happen, so I’m really happy that he stepped up.”
Earlier this year, Hermansson faced Curtis’ teammate, Sean Strickland, and lost via split decision. Since that fight, the 34-year-old has reflected and understands what went right and what went wrong, and he plans on applying those changes to his fight on Saturday.
“In the Strickland fight I got really frustrated when I couldn’t get my game going and I wasn’t able to adjust during the fight, so I think that’s what I’m taking from that fight, that if I get that same feeling I’m not going to force the things that I want,” Hermansson said. “I’m going to create the right moment instead of forcing it. I think that’s going to be the difference.”
“The Joker” has stepped out of the Octagon with a bag of mixed results throughout his last five fights, going 2-3 following a four-fight win streak. Hermansson currently sits ranked No. 8 in the middleweight division, while his previous opponent was No. 9. Even though his new opponent isn’t ranked, he isn’t looking past the skills he brings to the table.
“Chris has extremely heavy hands and at any time he can put your lights out, so I know it’s very important that I want to hit him and not get hit,” Hermansson said. “That’s very important in this fight. He has those heavy hands and is always dangerous. His boxing is his main game, great takedown defense, as well, so he’s a solid opponent.
“Somebody has to be the first one to take him down and that’s going to be me.”
Rise of Jack Hermansson
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Rise of Jack Hermansson
Six of his wins have come by submission, while 11 of them have been knockouts. Through 37 professional fights, Curtis has only been knocked out once and submitted once. He comes into the matchup riding an eight-fight win streak, following a unanimous decision victory over Rodolfo Vieira at the end of June.
“I would say that I have a wider game, more tools,” Hermansson said. “I see myself as an all-around fighter and I think I can do it both in the standup and in the wrestling, on the ground. Obviously, I feel like I have a big advantage in the grappling department.”
The middleweight division saw champion Israel Adesanya continue his reign with another successful title defense against Jared Cannonier earlier this month at UFC 276. Hermansson believes a victory over Curtis in London would help solidify his place in the division and prove that he is ready to take the next up step in the rankings.
Taking on Curtis in the co-main event of the evening doesn’t add any pressure or change anything mentally for Hermansson, who has had his fair share of main events throughout the years. His last three fights have been in the UFC APEX, so he is looking forward to the return of fighting in front of not just any crowd, but a London crowd.
“I’m definitely looking forward to fighting in front of a crowd again. I haven’t done that since before COVID, so I really look forward to going out there in front of a crowd and feeling that pressure.”
UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Aspinall took place live from the at The O2 Arena in London on Saturday, July 23, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!