Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Robert Whittaker retained his No. 1 ranking in the 185-pound weight class by turning away No. 5-ranked Darren Till in the UFC on ESPN 14 main event last weekend in Abu Dhabi.
That means any contending middleweight who hopes to get a crack at the division title is going to have to get through “The Reaper,” and that’s just fine with No. 6-ranked Jack Hermansson, who already had his sights set on the power-punching Aussie.
“My preference would be Whittaker,” Hermansson told Submission Radio. “That’s the first preference. Then, the second one would be the loser of the title fight [between] Costa/Adesanya. And I guess the third option is Darren Till.”
Israel Adesanya is expected to make his next title defense against undefeated challenger Paulo Costa at the upcoming UFC 253 pay-per-view (PPV) event in September, though it’s unclear how the promotion will match up the winner (and the loser).
Either way, Hermansson doesn’t expect Till to be in the mix.
“I know that I can beat [Till] and I believe he would probably not get through the top three,” Hermansson continued. “That’s what I believe. I believe he’s going to have trouble with both Costa, Adesanya and of course Whittaker. Would be interesting to see him fight Cannonier. But, that’s my thought on Darren. He’s up there, he’s definitely a top five fighter, but I’m not sure that he’s gonna go the whole way.”
Hermansson (21-5) is coming off a submission win over No. 7-ranked Kelvin Gastelum on “Fight Island” and has now won five of his last six. That said, last September’s knockout loss to Jared Cannonier could put him behind the “Killa Gorilla” in the 185-pound title chase.