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Gerald Meerschaert says UFC Newark win boosted his confidence: ‘I got my swag back’

If he wanted to stay with the UFC, middleweight Gerald Meerschaert needed a win at UFC Newark earlier this month.

UFC Fight Night: Giles v Meerschaert Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Gerald Meerschaert potentially saved his UFC career with a win over Trevin Giles at UFC Newark earlier this month.

Meerschaert entered his middleweight bout with Giles — the last fight on his contract — on a two-fight skid, which included a loss to current top contender Jack Hermansson and a controversial decision to Kevin Holland. “GM3” was very aware that three losses in a row is usually the recipe for a pink slip, and having only one fight left on his contract certainly wouldn’t help. So he did everything he could to get the job done against Giles.

“It felt really good (to win),” Meerschaert told Bloody Elbow. “It definitely helps your confidence. You lose once and it’s bad enough. To lose the way I did the second time, not only was I pissed off about that because I thought I won and a lot of other people did, but you start not having as much confidence and stuff. Then you get that win back and you’re like, ‘I’m the man up in this—.’ I got my swag back.”

But the win didn’t come particularly easy for the Roufusport fighter. Meerschaert believes the fight was tied heading into the third round, so he definitely needed to win it to secure the victory. But he learned in his split-decision loss to Holland in March to never leave a fight to the judges — winning the third round against Giles wouldn’t necessarily mean winning the fight. Meerschaert put Giles to sleep with a guillotine in the third round.

“Going 1-1 into the third, I still felt like I needed a finish — period,” Meerschaert said. “It didn’t matter if I was well ahead or not, I wasn’t going to coast. I needed to get a finish.”

Given the circumstances he was in going in, Meerschaert considers the win — which was his 41st pro fight and eighth UFC fight — the most important of his career. But he said he has a lot of career left in him, so he expects it to get topped one day.

“Up until this point, for sure,” Meerschaert, 31, said. “[Coach Duke Roufus told me after the fight], ‘That was definitely the biggest thing. You go 0-3, you’re pretty much done, unless you got all the social media following in the world. We needed that one for your career, for your contract, and for your mental confidence.’”

The fight marked only the second time Meerschaert has been featured on a UFC main card. That, along with the win-or-go-home stakes, made it feel big, too.

“I definitely felt extra pressure, but I was a lot more relaxed than I thought I would be,” Meerschaert said. “I was aware of how big a deal it was, but at the same time, it was my seventh or eighth UFC fight, so I’m really starting to get used to everything and I was a lot calmer than normal. You get nerves before a fight, but I was actually kind of taken aback by how I handled it, as calm as I was. You’d expect that I’d be freaking out a little bit more, but that wasn’t the case.”

Meerschaert hasn’t yet talked with UFC brass about signing a new deal, but expects to do so pretty soon. He’s definitely not worried about whether or not the matchmakers will be interested.

“I’m sure I’ll get signed again,” Meerschaert said. “I’m 5-3 in the UFC. My UFC record is what matters the most to me, and it’s not that bad. The only guys I’ve really lost to are top of the heap right now at 185 and 205. I think I still got a really good chance to make a run at that title and make a name for myself.”

Meerschaert understands why some people would choose to test free agency — to find out what they’re truly worth — but he has no intention of signing with any promotion other than the UFC.

“I’m pretty much fixed on staying with the UFC,” Meerschaert said. “I like going to the UFC. I’ve been to Bellator fights, I’ve been to ONE Championship fights — I’m not down talking them at all, they’re great organizations. But I know the UFC people, I’ve worked with them a lot, everything goes very smoothly there, and I’m just very happy with where I work. There’s a very good potential to grow your brand.

“As far as testing your market value, your value is how much you win. If you keep winning fights, you’re going to get taken care of. Knowing that I can build myself and my brand the best and have the widest audience in the UFC, that’s where I’m looking to stay.”