Jack Hermansson is back in the win column.
The UFC middleweight contender defeated Edmen Shahbazyan in the opening bout of the UFC Fight Night 188 main card Saturday in Las Vegas. Hermansson (22-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) outpointed Shahbazyan (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) with 29-27 marks on all three judges’ scorecards to win a unanimous decision.
It was a gritty fight that forced Hermansson to dig deep and make a comeback. In the first round, Shahbazyan picked apart Hermansson in the standup. It was a striking clinic as Shahbazyan mixed his strikes to the legs, body and head of Hermansson.
The second had a much more different tone. Hermansson took down Shahbazyan just seconds into the round and began to land ground-and-pound, cutting Shahbazyan above the eyebrow. Shahbazyan was able to get back on his feet, but he was pinned against the cage and taken down again. From there, Hermansson controlled the majority of the action but was reversed with a minute left in the round.
The final round looked very similar to the second. Hermansson got a takedown early, but this time he maintained top control for the entire round while also landing heavy elbows and strikes on Shahbazyan. It was by far the most dominant round of the fight worthy of 10-8 scores.
UFC Fight Night 188 discussion thread
UFC Fight Night 188 video: Bruno Silva floors Victor Rodriguez with mean straight right
With that exclamation mark in the third, Hermansson did enough to get the nod from the judges. The 32-year-old was coming off a decision loss to Marvin Vettori last December. He called out former champion Robert Whittaker in his post-fight interview.
“I got only ranked above me in the top five, and that’s Robert Whittaker. If he doesn’t want to sit around and wait for the title, I’m up for the challenge. If not, give me the winner of Till vs. Brunson or the winner of Cannonier vs. Costa.”
Shahbazyan, 23, who fights out of Glendale Fighting Club where Ronda Rousey trained, is now on a two-fight skid after starting his career 11-0. He was stopped by Derek Brunson in his previous outing.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 188 results include:
Jack Hermansson def. Edmen Shahbazyan via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Ben Rothwell def. Chris Barnett via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:07
Court McGee def. Claudio Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Bruno Silva def. Victor Rodriguez via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:00
Josh Culibao def. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
David Dvorak def. Juancamilo Ronderos via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:18
Damir Ismagulov def. Rafael Alves via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)