This Saturday in Copenhagen offers a return to Scandinavia for Swedish all-rounder Jack ‘The Joker’ Hermansson. The talented middleweight contender meets heavy-hitter Jared ‘The Killa Gorilla’ Cannonier in the main event of UFC Fight Night Copenhagen, with the victor of the clash expected to firmly instate themselves into title contention. As things stand, interim best Israel Adesanya is set to challenge Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title at UFC 243, while Brazilian powerhouse Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa narrowly scraped by Yoel Romero to take the #2 rank at 185-pounds.
For Uddevalla born Hermansson, we really witnessed a changing of the guard at middleweight in his last Octagon outing. Meeting long-time perennial contender and former Strikeforce 185-pound champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza on short-notice, over five rounds, ‘The Joker’ soundly beat the Brazilian. Dropping Souza while backed up against the fence in an opening round exchange, Hermansson immediately jumped to his now patented arm-in variation of the guillotine, displaying his grappling chaps against one of the greatest grapplers in the sport’s history.
Out landing Souza with a combined strike rate of over two-hundred and fifty and three successful takedowns attempts proved more than enough to take a unanimous decision in Florida, and the biggest scalp of his professional career in the process.
Despite failing to finish ‘Jacare’ with the aforementioned arm-in guillotine, Hermansson has stopped fellow polished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player David Branch and Gerald Meerschaert with the variation. Against Jared Cannonier, Hermansson is tackling a naturally larger opponent, with the Texan competing as high as heavyweight during his so far brief Octagon stint. When pitted with the previously mentioned Branch, Cannonier gave up back mount in the opening round but managed to buck and explode out of the threatening position before a second round knockout victory.
Hermansson’s kickboxing has been described as quite unorthodox as he steers away from any traditional style. ‘The Joker’ bounces between his lead and rear leg and often switches from conventional and southpaw before closing distance. The utilisation of both outside and inside kicks to the lead leg of Anderson Silva and David Branch by Cannonier considerably tuned the tide of both fights, forcing the stoppage against Silva. The unconventional style of Hermansson will be tackled with these leg kicks as Cannonier tries to chop away at the mobility and movement of the Swede.
The key to success for Hermansson this Saturday at the Royal Arena is the utilization of that somewhat erratic movement in order to keep out of range of Cannonier’s distance covering overhand right. The consensus remains, Hermansson is the superior grappler but Cannonier has only been stopped once by submission in his sixteen fight career, and the knowledge of survival against talented submission artist David Branch is quite significant.
Both men are reasonably matched in terms of standup ability, but with contrasting styles. Hermansson a somewhat measured and reserved striker. and Cannonier a heavy hitter with explosive power in both hands, and some serious ground-and-pound capability. Undefeated contender Paulo Costa remains confident in his status as the next in line for the middleweight throne, but an eye-catching finish from either Hermansson or Cannonier this weekend may realistically force a title-eliminator matchup.