Jack “The Joker” Hermansson has always been one of the most dangerous fighters in the UFC’s middleweight division. From his impressive performance against Jacare Souza, to his submission win over Kelvin Gastelum, Hermansson has always been right at the edge of a shot at the middleweight title.

After falling to Marvin Vettori last December, Hermansson feels like a born-again fighter and is re-motivated to put the entire division on notice in his upcoming matchup with Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC 262.

Hermansson spoke with LowKickMMA about facing Shahbazyan next Saturday in Houston, at just the second full-capacity UFC event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He’s a good opponent and a great standup fighter,” Hermansson said. “He’s a good challenge, but on the other hand I believe my style is a good match up against him. I feel very ready to fight.”

Hermansson went through quite the pathing leading up to his fight with Vettori at UFC Vegas 16. After being originally scheduled to face Darren Till, he went through Till pulling out of the fight due to injury and replacement Kevin Holland failing to pass the COVID-19 protocol. Eventually, the UFC matched up the Norwegian star against Vettori in a five-round war in which he lost by unanimous decision.

Obviously, the result of his fight against Vettori has left a bitter taste in his mouth; and he’s hoping for a rematch in the near future regardless of the circumstances.

“I think we’re gonna meet again for sure,” Hermansson told LowKickMMA.”It was a good fight, we fought hard for five rounds, and it just didn’t go my way. Whatever it takes to get to that belt, whatever it takes.”

Hermansson isn’t looking past Shahbazyan, one of the hottest prospects in the UFC’s stacked middleweight division. The 23-year-old is coming off of his lone defeat in the UFC against Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 5 and enters UFC 262 with a lot to prove as well.

But in the back of his mind, Hermansson hasn’t stopped thinking about what it would mean to eventually compete for a championship belt; especially against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

“I’m probably the hardest matchup for him out there,” Hermansson said when asked about a future bout against Adesanya. “Blachowicz showed some weaknesses in his game, his bottom game is definitely not the best. If I can get on top of him, he’s in big trouble.

UFC 262 will feature the lightweight title fight between top contenders Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. The UFC fanbase and media shouldn’t sleep on “The Joker” as he competes in a massive fight in the middleweight division. 2021 is a fresh start for a lot of us, and Hermansson has a chance to make this the best year of his career.

What are your predictions for Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC 262? Do you agree that Hermansson could potentially be a bad style matchup for Israel Adesanya?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.