UFC Fight Night 150 on Saturday underwent about as many changes as Marvel has superhero characters. The event was advertised as being in Miami and then changed to Sunrise, Florida, (where it was actually held) before the promotion finally settled on Fort Lauderdale. The main card was originally supposed to air on ESPN but was ultimately changed to ESPN+. The show was scheduled to be headlined by a rematch between Ronaldo Souza and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero, but when the curtain finally went down, the main event saw Souza matched with the surging but unknown Jack Hermansson.
When “Jacare” was asked about the changes, he did not seem pleased with the idea of facing the lower-ranked opponent. Perhaps the former Strikeforce titleholder took Hermansson lightly, because he did not put forth a good performance. Hermansson picked apart Souza on the feet, but more surprisingly, he outgrappled the multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion on his way to a unanimous decision. The Swede even attempted a guillotine choke on “Jacare.”
“I’m confident in my game,” Hermansson said on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “I know I can go with the best in the world on the ground. I thought I was close to finishing him with the guillotine, as well.”
“The Joker” has now won six of his last seven bouts, including four in a row. After headlining an Ultimate Fighting Championship event for the first time, Hermansson is expected to rise in the UFC rankings from his previously ranked No. 10 spot. The 30-year-old hopes his recent success will make him a marquee name in the sport.
“I’m just hoping this gives me what I want,” Hermansson said after the event. “I want the top position. When people are thinking about the UFC, I want them thinking about me. I want to be one of those guys, the big names. That’s what I want. That’s why I’m here, to be one of the best guys in the world. That’s it, you know. I hope nobody is sleeping on me now.”
Play-by-play commentator Jon Anik has spoken several times about Hermansson’s obsession with the UFC rankings and with setting a path to a title shot. ESPN+ posted the rankings for Hermansson to view and then asked him who he wants to fight next.
“Nobody will give me Robert Whittaker; that’s who I want,” Hermansson said. “He’s got the belt. That’s the one. I’m always looking at the top. If not him, Israel [Adesanya]. OK, he is going to fight Robert. Who’s next there? OK, Yoel Romero. Give me him [in a] main event in Copenhagen in October. Boom.”
NOT HEARING THE BOOS
In the co-main event, the controversial Greg Hardy made his second official appearance inside the Octagon when he battled Dmitry Smoliakov. The former NFL All-Pro ran through his Russian counterpart, drubbing him with hard shots to earn a first-round technical knockout. UFC President Dana White was critical of Smoliakov’s effort in the one-sided shellacking.
“I think [Hardy’s] performance was great,” White said during the post-fight press conference. “His opponent’s performance, no so much. I would like to see the nine guys that guy beat. We don’t make fights like that. That’s not what we do. I’m not taking anything away from Greg. Greg came in great shape. He obviously hit that guy. That guy did not want to get hit again. I just want to make it very clear. Those are not the kind of fights we want to make. I expect more from a guy with a record of 9-2, but that being said, Hardy did what Hardy is supposed to do. Hardy doesn’t make the fights; me and my guys do. He comes to the fights. He treated that guy exactly the way you need to treat a guy like that.”
Hardy’s presence on the UFC roster has drawn widespread criticism due to his checkered past with domestic violence, with many believing he has received preferential treatment due to his notoriety. After the win, Hardy’s hometown crowd showered him with boos as he was announced as the winner.
“I love it, man,” Hardy said. “Plus, if you really listened, there was less and less boos. All I hear is the crowd. All I hear is the people that appreciate me. A lot of people never even asked me this question, but before anything happened to Greg Hardy and his career, to ‘The Kraken’ along the way, people booed me. People are going to boo, but all I heard was cheers. I heard people that loved me. I heard my people, my crowd, my fans, people I have embraced. I have been living here for two or three years. They accepted me and enjoy what I put out. That was my favorite part -- knowing they enjoy what I put out.”
Many of the fighters who notched victories have already turned their focus to their next preferred matchup. Mike Perry, who won a decision over Alex Oliveira in the “Fight of the Night,” has designs on facing an opponent to whom he has been linked since they went face-to-face in Gdansk, Poland, in October 2017.
“I think the Darren Till fight’s a good fight,” Perry said. “He’s called me out in the Octagon, [and] I just called him out in the Octagon. I think that’s good press for the UFC to put together. The fight makes sense. I used to not want to call people out who were coming off a loss, but you know what? You up in the top and you got that number next to your name. I’m going to need that spot, so I’m going to need that fight if it’s available.”
Longtime veteran Glover Teixeira recorded his second straight victory with a second-round submission of Ion Cutelaba but cannot stop thinking about avenging his most recent setback -- a unanimous decision defeat to Corey Anderson, who accepted the July 22 bout with the Brazilian on just two weeks’ notice.
“I trained for [Ilir] Latifi,” Teixeira said. “I trained totally different. He got that fight on short notice. I was training so different for that fight. He got me off-guard. I was not happy with the whole thing. Obviously, I was not happy because I lost the fight. I would love to fight him again and do a full camp and prove to myself that I can beat him.”
Some other callouts included Roosevelt Roberts pining for a fight with Matt Frevola, UFC newcomer Takashi Sato asking to face the aforementioned Perry and Gilbert Burns claiming he wants to be paired with Alexander Hernandez.