Jack Hermansson wants out of UFC APEX: ‘Experience is nowhere near to be fighting in front of a huge crowd’

Jack Hermansson is tired of fighting at the UFC APEX.

This past Saturday, Hermansson got back on the winning track, scoring a unanimous decision win over Joe Pyfer in the main event of UFC Vegas 86. Many fans viewed the matchup as a setup for Pyfer, one of the division’s most highly touted prospects, but heading into the fight, Hermansson saw it as a chance to earn a better spot.

“I knew that he had a lot of hype,” Hermansson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Everybody was kind of talking about him. So when I got the fight I was like, ‘Why is this good for me?’ Getting a main event, coming off a loss and getting straight into a main event is not a bad deal. So I thought, let’s do it. But also, there were a lot of eyes on Joe. I thought that would give me a chance to show myself.”

The win was Hermansson’s eleventh in UFC, and it kept “The Joker” firmly entrenched in the division’s top-15 rankings. The only downside for Hermansson was that it happened in the UFC APEX. UFC has hosted events consistently in the APEX over the past several years, with fans and fighters noting the lack of a crowd changes the experience. Hermansson knows better than most as four of his past six fights have come in the APEX, and he’s ready to move on from it.

“I’ve had enough of it,” Hermansson said about the venue. “I don’t know how many fights I’ve had there now, and on top of that I had the fights during COVID without the audience, so I’m just sick of it.

“I want big arenas, big crowds. Something else. It’s cool to watch fights in the APEX, and it’s kind of cool on TV as well with the sound and everything, you can hear so much. But the experience is nowhere near to be fighting in front of a huge crowd.”

Prior to 2020, Hermansson was one of UFC’s preeminent road warriors, fighting all over the world. Now primarily fighting in the APEX, he said that while the fighting is the same, it diminishes the victories.

“I’m so turned on, in a way, when I’m in there,” Hermansson said. “So I don’t think it affects my performance, but I do know it affects how enjoyable it is. Especially after you win a fight, to soak in that experience from the crowd. So the total experience is not that great without the crowd.”

That’s not to say Hermansson will reject the APEX outright. Headlining events remains a powerful motivator, and the key factor is really the opportunity.

“The most important thing is the opponent,” he said. “So if it’s a good opponent, I’m not going to turn it down. But I really would prefer to fight somewhere else.”

Hopefully that opponent will be another recent APEX headliner. Nassourdine Imavov won a majority decision over Roman Dolidze at UFC Vegas 85, the weekend before Hermansson’s big win, and that is who “The Joker” hopes to get next.

“I would like Imavov,” Hermansson said. “I think that’s a good fight because coming off this win, I would love an opportunity to step up a little bit. We’re still very close to each other in the rankings, so I think that makes sense. I’ve fought a lot of other guys high up, and I can’t think that I’m going to be facing a top-five guy either. So I think Nassourdine Imavov makes sense for the next fight.”

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