Hermansson decisions Pyfer for UFC Fight Night win

Jack Hermansson pulls out grueling win over Joe Pyfer in main event (1:10)

Jack Hermansson pulls out a gritty win over a tough Joe Pyfer in the main event of UFC Fight Night. (1:10)

Jack Hermansson put forth a performance befitting the veteran he is, stymying the streak of a top prospect in the process.

"The Joker" rallied after a slow start to defeat knockout artist Joe Pyfer via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) on Saturday in the middleweight main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Hermansson weathered Pyfer's big blows early, stayed composed into the late rounds and used jabs and leg kicks to gain the edge down the homestretch.

"I got hit in the beginning more than I should have," Hermansson said in his postfight interview. "The plan was to put on the pace the more the fight went. And I knew that, as I've said, I drown people when I do that."

This was Hermansson's fifth UFC main event fight -- with all five going all five rounds. Pyfer never had been in a UFC main event prior to Saturday. The difference in experience level seemed to make all the difference.

"I know that people underestimate my boxing skills because of some less-than-good performances," Hermansson said. "But especially in a long fight, nobody has the cardio I have."

Pyfer said the difference in the fight was Hermansson's calf kicks. He said he was hesitant to throw combinations going to the body because he knew those kicks were coming back. By the third round, Pyfer's left leg was damaged, and Hermansson also landed a beautiful jab to his right eye in the same round. Pyfer thought it was an eye poke, but referee Mark Smith correctly pointed out that it was a legal punch -- and a damaging one.

All three judges had Hermansson winning the last three rounds and Pyfer winning the first two.

A Pyfer win would have put him on the map as a UFC middleweight contender.

Hermansson (24-8) has alternated wins and losses in his past nine fights. The Sweden native who lives and trains in Norway was coming off a second-round TKO loss to Roman Dolidze in December 2022.

Hermansson, 35, advocated for MMA to be legalized in his adopted home country of Norway in his postfight interview. Norway is one of the last remaining European countries where holding events in the sport is still illegal.

Pyfer (12-3) was on a five-fight winning streak coming in, including victories in his first three UFC fights via finish. The New Jersey native who lives and trains in Philadelphia was coming off a second-round submission win over Abdul Razak Alhassan in October.

Pyfer, 27, lost in his first chance at the UFC on "Dana White's Contender Series," suffering a dislocated elbow in August 2020. He came back to win by knockout on the Contender Series to earn a spot on the UFC roster in July 2022.