Jack Hermansson believes a fight with Kelvin Gastelum is likely next

Sep 3, 2016; Hamburg, Germany; Jack Hermansson (blue gloves) defeats Scott Askham (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Barclaycard Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

The days of underestimating Jack Hermansson have passed. The No. 5 ranked middleweight is happy his hard work is starting to pay off.

Hermansson did what many pundits thought he could not do at UFC Ft. Lauderdale. That is defeat Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in convincing fashion.

Now that some time has passed, Hermansson has taken a moment to reflect on his accomplishments. He is closer than ever to realizing his dream of becoming a UFC champion.

“It feels great,” Hermansson explained to BJPENN.COM in a recent interview. “You know, you’re always talking about the top 15, top 10, and top 5. So now I’m in fine company in the top 5.”

The win over “Jacare” catapulted “The Joker” five spots up from the No. 10 spot to where he resides now at No. 5. Most everyone agrees that Hermansson put on the best performance of his career last weekend in Florida. Still, like most high-level athletes, he is his own toughest critic.

“First I was a little disappointed I didn’t get a finish,” Hermansson said. “But now reflecting a little bit afterward I feel like I got to show everybody what I got in five rounds.

“If it would’ve been an early finish people might have said it was a fluke but now they can see that I beat him technically. So it feels good and I’m super excited to see what the next step will be.”

As for what that next step will be, well Hermansson has already thrown out a few names of possible opponents including former middleweight champ Chris Weidman, and former title challengers Yoel Romero and Kelvin Gastelum.

While I would love to see any and all of those match ups, I wondered how Hermansson, who has been a great company guy for the UFC thus far in his career, would feel about being the promotions Plan B for the Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker unification bout later this year? Considering the champ’s unfortunate injury history it would make sense for the promotion to have a failsafe in place.

“Straight away! Absolutely,” Hermansson said regarding the Plan B scenario. “Man, I would love to fight those guys any given day That’s what I want, that’s my goal, my dream in this sport is to be the champion and there’s nothing that would make me say no to that fight “

However, the Plan B scenario is not a likely outcome. What is more probable for Hermansson is if he was to headline the rumored UFC Copenhagen card later this year. As far as who he might be facing? “The Joker” think’s Gastelum is the most logical opponent.

“I’ve been thinking more and more about it [his next opponent] and I think the Paulo Costa and Romero fight has to happen. So I think those two guys have to fight each other so maybe Gastelum would be a good one next.

“His grappling is alright but it’s his striking that is his bread and butter,” Hermansson said of Gastelum’s skill set. “He is a really good boxer and that is his main strength.

“Of course he has good wrestling as well. I think its gonna be challenging to put him on the ground but I think I’m gonna have a big advantage when I put him on the ground.”

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/2/2019.