When asked if he made any changes that helped kickstart his four-fight winning streak, Jack Hermansson immediately had an answer.
The UFC middleweight contender said he hired a mental coach, Tommy Fjeldheim, after a knockout loss to Thiago Santos in 2017. And the results speak for themselves: since then, he is undefeated and has had a rapid rise in the division, transitioning from up-and-down prospect to one of the best in the world.
Hermansson said prior to his recent run, which has seen him tap out David Branch and most recently best Ronaldo Souza in a five-round decision last weekend at UFC Fort Lauderdale, he had a lot of mental issues that took away from his performances in the cage.
“I had confidence in my skills, but I was thinking about the sport like, ‘Even if I am so much better than my opponent, I can hit him 99 times, but if he hit me once, it can be over,’” Hermansson told Bloody Elbow. “And that lack of control, I felt like it doesn’t matter how much I prepare. It’s always gonna be a big chance that anybody can hit me on the chin and I’m going away, and that scared me and made me very, very nervous before my fights.”
Hermansson said often before fights his nerves took over and made him feel “unfocused and very, very weak.”
“I didn’t feel any connection to my body. It was very, very bad,” Hermansson said. “Before the UFC, I had a couple fights where I felt like I could barely stand on my feet. Then, after that, I was so afraid that feeling was gonna come back to me. Before a fight, I was like, ‘Is it gonna happen this time? Is it gonna happen this time?’ That was in my mind all the time.”
Working with Fjeldheim has taken away Hermansson’s pre-fight worries, he said, and has subsequently led to an increase in success in his fights.
“You can see there is a big difference,” Hermansson said. “I’m very, very confident that I’m going to go into a fight now without a mental breakdown, and that helps me to be able to perform closer to my abilities.”