Jack Hermansson refused to be ‘stepping stone’ for Joe Pyfer, calls for fights with Nassourdine Imavov or Khamzat Chimaev
Coming off a knockout loss and 14-month layoff, Hermansson returned to face an unranked opponent backed by an inspiring origin story about perseverance over injury and personal hardship. It was a tale UFC CEO Dana White told repeatedly leading up to the card.
To add to that, Pyfer had amassed a perfect 3-0 résumé since joining the UFC roster, with all of his fights ending by knockout or submission. Everything was set up so Pyfer could have a huge coming out party in his first UFC main event, but there was only one problem — Hermansson didn’t read the script.
“He didn’t even have a ranking,” Hermansson said of Pyfer at the UFC Vegas 86 post-fight press conference. “I feel like he got more exposure than I did for this fight. I understand why. He has an amazing story, he’s coming up through the Contender Series and he has a lot of eyes on him. He should get a shot like this, but then you also need to be able to perform to take it to that next level. I was not going to be that stepping stone.”
Hermansson proved that after he endured a fast start from Pyfer, but then began slowly but surely chipping away at the middleweight prospect, especially over the final three rounds. Throughout the latter part of the fight, Hermansson battered Pyfer with a blistering series of leg kicks while feeding him a steady diet of jabs that landed at will.
When it was over, there was no doubt that Hermansson did enough to earn the victory and hand Pyfer his first loss inside the octagon.
“It feels good to show everybody that I’m up there,”Hermansson said. “I’m one of the best middleweights in the world. That’s just facts by now.”
Despite Pyfer coming up short, Hermansson still showered the 27-year-old prospect with praise and reassured that this experience would only make him better in the long run.
“I promise you he’s going to do well. I’m sure of it,” Hermansson said. “Now he has this loss and I’m sure he’s just going to grow from it. Joe seems like a great guy. He seems focused. He’s a dangerous fighter and I don’t see why he shouldn’t be great.”
“I just watch the rankings and I fought a lot of guys up there,” Hermansson said. “Obviously, I can’t come back with a fight with an unranked opponent and go direct to the top. I need to fight someone that’s closer to me in the rankings. I think [Imavov] makes the most sense at the moment.”
With many of the division’s top fighters tied up, Hermansson views Imavov as the logical next step, although he’s certainly not opposed to other options.
One potential matchup mentioned to him was Khamzat Chimaev, who Hermansson actually faced in a freestyle wrestling match back in 2021. Both fighters also routinely train in Sweden, which could set up an even bigger clash for a possible event in Europe if the UFC decides to travel there.
“Of course, I’m willing to fight Khamzat,” Hermansson said. “I know there has been talk of him and [Jared] Cannonier and some of the other top names, so we’ll see what is happening. But I would be open for that fight [against Chimaev].
“I would also love to fight Brendan Allen, but he is booked up with [Marvin] Vettori at the moment. Imavov makes the most sense.”