Middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza faced off with late-notice replacement, Jack “The Joker” Hermansson tonight (Saturday, April 27, 2019) from inside the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, live only via the ESPN+ streaming service. Jacare was coming off his war and brutal knockout of former champion Chris Weidman, while Hermansson was stepping up after a lightning submission win over David Branch only weeks ago. It would be a career-defining win for The Joker, who took full advantage of his opportunity in what turned out to be a compelling five-round war!
Hermansson opened with circling footwork and wild kicks, as well as a jump knee that missed. Jacare jabbed the body. Hermansson landed an inside leg kick. Jacare ate a big right and coutnered with one of his own. Hermansson jabbed at Jacare, then stepped into a powerful low kick. Jacare swung with an overhand. He was pressing forward now, into the clinch at times, looking for his right and his left hook to the body. Hermansson rocked Souza with a combination of straight punches and went for his signature guillotine!! Jacare spun at a weird angle until he was eventually out, standing up in a scramble. Hermansson pinned him to the cage, where Jacare looked briefly for a throw, as well as short uppercuts while Hermansson landed knees to the body. Jacare finally worked free and landed a right hand on the break. Hermansson landed a leg kick. Jacare circled away, eating jabs from Hermansson as the round ended.
Jacare checked a low kick as the second round began. He blocked a big overhand from a sniping Hermansson. He got inside, landing a big left hook, and they traded heavy leather, Jacare more careful to move his head as he threw. Hermansson caught a low kick and took Jacare down! Hermansson dove into the closed guard of Jacare, landing arm punches. Hermansson postured a bit to land a nice elbow. Jacare was just holding onto Hermansson, not throwing up any submission attempts. Hermansson just camped out, throwing short hammerfists and posturing to land elbows at times until the round wore to a close. The first two rounds were solidly won by the Joker.
Hermansson jabbed and kicked at Jacare, taking the center of the cage fearlessly. Jacare stuffed a takedown attempt with a nice sprawl. Jacare moved his head to avoid Jack’s whipping punches. He landed a right hand, then got his own jab going. Hermansson ripped back, but Jacare stayed defensively sound this time, looking for his liver hook but staying behind his shoulder. They both connected, Hermansson countering Jacare to good effect. Jacare stepped in with a left hook. Hermansson missed with a one-two as jacare moved his head. Jacare stuffed a shot and landed a momentary sweep, then backed Jack up and landed huge right hands and left hooks to the body. Hermansson seemed markedly slower after the disciplined onslaught, so he shot in and held to the clinch for a little while. They broke free and Jacare looked to counter his jab with a right hand. He stepped forward and connected on a clean right hand, and went after Hermansson, landing another right hand and sending Hermansson to the canvas briefly before the round ended. Jacare really had his old man powerpunching game going that round, the same approach that broke Chris Weidman.
Jacare sprawled on a shot and landed a knee from the headlock. Hermansson jabbed and flicked kicks at Souza. Jacare moved his head from side to side, avoiding the worst of the punches. Hermansson rocked jacare with a big uppercut and poured it on, sending Jacare up against the cage! Jacare covered up and returned fire, surviving the onslaught. Hermansson feinted and jabbed. Jacare looked for his overhand and Hermansson blocked it. Jacare stepped in with a big right hand. Hermansson rocked him again with another uppercut! Jacare was showing incredible toughness. Hermansson leaned away from an overhand but ate the follow-up from the clinch. He clinched with the Brazilian, pushing him against the cage. Jacare held onto an overhook and tried to circle out, eventually doing so. Jacare landed a couple overhands. Hermansson swung at him, putting Jacare on the defensive to end the round.
Jacare’s corner was telling him, correctly, that he needed a finish in the fifth. Hermansson shot in, dragging Jacare down off the cage. Jacare clambered to his feet and used an overhook to toss Hermansson, breaking the clinch. Hermansson was keeping up a tremendous volume, showing excellent conditioning. He ducked away from an overhand from Jacare. Jacare ate a sneaky right and looked for that big punch to put Jack out. Combination from Hermansson. Left hook to the body from Jacare. Hermansson jabbed and circled and jabbed again, landing nice combinations off the jab. Jacare was doing well defensively to keep out the offense, but was having trouble finding his own opportunity. Another left hook to the body from Jacare. He landed to the body and head, then body again. Hermansson tried to clinch but Jacare wasn’t having it. Hermansson landed a right hand, a jab, ate another body hook. Jacare was ralling, and Hermansson looked hurt. Jacare landed a big right. Hermansson connected on an uppercut! What a war! They clinched, and Jacare ripped the body. Hermansson took Jacare down to finish the final round on top in guard! What a tremendous fight, and what a statement from Jack Hermansson, outlasting not one, but two tremendous rallies from the old warrior to win at least three rounds.
Jack said he’s happy to show everyone in the world what he can do. “I am a contender!” he emphasized. He said he was hoping for that early finish, and said he hopes it was impressive anyway. He said his conditioning, speed, and variety was key. He did admit Jacare caught him a few times, and that any one of those could have ended the fight. He said he’s obsessed with the title, and emphasized he had taken this fight on short notice. “I need a good reward after that!” After this tremendous fight, Hermansson has firmly announced himself as a serious contender at middleweight.
Results: Jack Hermansson def. Jacare Souza via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47x2)
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