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UFC Ft. Lauderdale preview: Jack Hermansson (finally) getting his due

Long after Conor McGregor clowned fellow Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Jeremy Stephens at the UFC 205 kickoff press conference (watch it), the running joke among mixed martial arts (MMA) fans is to ask “Who the fuck is that guy?” every time a new or lesser-known fighter takes center stage.

Like Jack Hermansson.

“The Joker” is headlining the UFC on ESPN+ 8 event, which takes place this Sat. night (April 27, 2019) inside BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida (full fight card here). The power-punching Swede takes over for Yoel Romero, who was forced to withdraw following a bout with pneumonia.

Hermansson, 30, may not be a household name just yet, but he’s already amassed an impressive 6-2 record inside the Octagon, one that includes five violent finishes. He was last seen choking the life out of David Branch in Philadelphia.

A victory that may have prompted fans to sit up and take notice.

“I know that I’m capable of it, I was really happy to showcase what I’m able to do,” Hermansson told MMA Junkie. “I think it opened people’s eyes and I think more people are following me now and looking forward to seeing what I can do in this sport.”

Those eyes are going to stay open if Hermansson can somehow find a way to overcome the No. 4-ranked Ronaldo Souza, who is not only dangerous on his feet (see Weidman, Chris), but also one of the deadliest jiu-jitsu fighters in the sport.

“If I beat him, especially if I beat him in a dominant fashion, then I’m gonna be one of the names you talk about to be up there for the title,” Hermansson said. “Jacare is a really legit opponent, he's super dangerous and only the best guys in the division have been able to beat him. If I beat him, I think I’m one of the best guys in the division.”

A title shot might be hard to come by these days. Robert Whittaker is scheduled to defend his 185-pound strap against interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya later this year, while Romero and Paulo Costa are still out there lurking in the shadows.

Regardless, a finish over Souza should leave the 19-4 “Joker” one or two wins away from the promised land, though considering what “Jacare” has been able to accomplish over the course of his storied combat sports career (sample), that’s certainly easier said than done.

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