Dubai: before becoming an MMA fighter in 2010, Sweden’s Jack Hermansson worked in a pet store, a bar and as a substitute teacher.
Now, 10 years on and after 28 fights, of which he has won 21, the former Cage Warriors champion is looking to establish himself as a leading contender for the UFC middleweight title by destroying the aspirations of Italy’s Marvin Vettori in Saturday’s main event at UFC Vegas 19.
Currently ranked No. 4 in the 185lb (84kg) division, Hermansson (21-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) heads into the Octagon as the overwhelming favourite to defeat Vettori (15-4-1 MMA, 5-2-1 UFC), a late replacement for Kevin Holland who tested positive for COVID-19.
Both fighters bring strong form to the UFC showpiece with Hermansson having won five of his last fights, with his only loss coming against champion Israel Adesanya at UFC Fight Night last September. Subsequently, Hermansson, who currently resides in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, scored a stunning first round submission victory over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night in July this year.
Vettori may be five years younger than his experienced Swedish rival (32) and ranked nine place below him at No. 13, but the Italian has proved that he is no slouch with four wins from six fights including one draw against Russia’s Omari Akhmedov in 2017.
Both fighters have one thing in common, they have both suffered defeats to Adesanya, with Vettori losing via a split decision in April last year.
However, it appears that Vettori is gabbing all the pre-fight headlines as he bids to make history and become the UFC’s first Italian superstar.
“I think this my best moment.” Vettori told the Combat website.” I’m always looking to increase my win streak, but I also care about who I’m facing.
“After this fight, I’ll be in the mix. I’ll be in the top 5 and that’s where I want to be. I’m ready to make history. I’ll be the first Italian to headline a UFC card. My greatest dream is to be a UFC champion.”
But Vettori recognises that Hermansson will not be an easy task and said: “He’s a great opponent, he brings a lot of energy into his game
“He is good in every aspect, but everything he does well, I do better. I think it’s a good fight for me.”
In the co-main event light-heavyweight legend Ovince St. Preux takes on rising prospect Jamahal Hill and are joined by women’s flyweights Montana De La Rosa and Taila Santos, who face off in top half of the 11-fight extravaganza.
(from 4am on Sunday on UFC Arabia)
Jack Hermansson v Marvin Vettori
Ovince Saint Preux v Jamahal Hill
Montana De La Rosa v Taila Santos
Roman Dolidze v John Allan
Nate Landwehr v Movsar Evloev
Gian Villante v Jake Collier
Matt Wiman v Jordan Leavitt
Jimmy Flick v Cody Durden
Ilia Topuria v Damon Jackson
Gabriel Benitez v Justin Jaynes
Louis Smolka v Jose Quinonez