Jimmy describes his impressive win at LFA 52, push for the UFC.
Jimmy had another impressive win over CJ Hamilton at LFA 52, making a strong statement for his push to get a UFC contract. We interviewed him recently to get insight into his win, his team, and his path to achieve his longtime goal of being a UFC fighter.
Q: CJ Hamilton was 13-6?
Jimmy: 13-6 as a professional. Also had like 10 fights as an amateur. He’s a good seasoned guy.
Q: Describe how the fight went down.
Jimmy: It was a good fight. He has a karate background. He’s also a two time NCAA champ. I didn’t find that out until after I beat him. That’s why his takedown defense was really good. We had a good back and forth first round. I couldn’t keep him on the ground, he kept getting back up. Round 2, I put him back on the ground and kept him there, subbed him out!
Q: For this fight, what was your strategy?
Jimmy: The game plan is always to get to the ground, because that’s where I’m more comfortable. 10 minutes before the fight, when I was getting warmed up, I realized my knuckle on my left hand was hurt. I wasn’t able to hit mitts before the fight. We cut the wrap off, redid it, tried to figure out if something was wrong with the wrap or the glove, but it didn’t change. If you go back and look at the fight, you can see that I only threw my left hand about three times the whole fight. So mainly the whole first round I was kicking and trying to shoot to get to the ground. In round 2 I was successful and able to get the submission. The game plan before that was to see if I could strike a little with him because he has good striking. But once that happened the game plan was to get in and get out as soon as possible.
Q: That is amazing! You went into the fight not knowing how injured your hand was? Instead of canceling the fight, you fought one handed against an experienced pro with a good record, a high level striker, and two time NCAA wrestling champ?
Jimmy: From South Carolina. He’s a tough dude. And he’s got 20 pro fights. And he’s only been finished now, twice. Only once prior to our fight. I took the fight on 14 days notice, and I was able to get the finish.
Q: And you did it one handed.
Jimmy: (laughing) I mean I had adrenaline and stuff. I only wasn’t able to punch with two hands.
Q: Do you have any other fights coming up?
Jimmy: Right now nothing lined up. We’re just trying to stay ready just in case. I’m trying to fight here in Tulsa again in February.
Q: You are building a nice winning streak.
Jimmy: I’m 4 - 1 in my last 5 fights. And the one person who beat me will be fighting in the UFC November 30th, Chris Gutierrez. He just got signed. He was also the main event that night that I fought when I was the co-main event on LFA 53. I think it looks really good on me. But with the UFC dropping the 125 pound weight class, it looks like I will need to get back up to 135 and get a few more wins real quick and take out another top guy at 135.
Q: Where are you training jiu-jitsu?
Jimmy: I’m going to be training primarily at Thunderkick for now. My other gym, Sheep Dog Jiu-Jitsu is too far out from where I live. With the changes in my schedule, it’s going to be hard to make it. They’ve helped me out a lot, but I’ll be training at Thunderkick.
Q: You’re already a brown belt, what does someone like you focus on?
Jimmy: Right now, my focus is on getting better at my standup. My nickname is The Brick for a reason. It’s because my game is solid all over. So I’m trying to make everything better everywhere.
Q: Transitioning to your path to the UFC, talk about how your wife supports you.
Jimmy: My wife helps and supports me a lot. We have two little girls, a six year old and a one and a half year old. She spends a lot of a time with them when I spend time at work and training. I wake up at 4:30 - 5:00 in the morning to go train. Sometimes when I go to the gym after work, I don’t get home until 9:00, 10:00 at night. The girls are already asleep. She gets them up, feeds them, puts them to bed, does everything for them.
After that last fight, we thought we were going to get to take some time off. Then six days later we got the call we were going to get to do it again. I called my wife, because I always call her to make sure the schedule is going to be right. She said yes. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to keep pursuing this.
Q: Those are high energy girls! To take care of them herself, she is a strong woman. Talk to me about Mike Jackson. It seems like he is always in your corner. No matter how far you travel to do your fights, he’s always right there to help you.
Jimmy: Mike Jackson started with me a long time ago. We’ve been friends since I was 12 years old. He played football with my brother, so he’s been part of my family for a long time. He’s the only person I’ve ever belted (BJJ), he’s a blue belt under me. Unfortunately now with his kids and work schedule, he’s not able to train anymore. Outside of that, he meets up with me at my gym, and at his house, and gets some extra training with me. He supports my career no matter what. He finds a way to get off of work, goes to my fights, and travels with me. It’s people like that who really help drive me. In the Saudido fight, I was getting beat up, I wanted to quit. Everybody yelling gives me the extra push I need to get the win.
Q: You’ve had some sponsors for a long, long time. Who are some of the sponsors who have supported you for years?
Jimmy: Fighting for Autism is one of my longest sponsors to jump on board and support me. Jeremy White’s son is autistic, and he just started paying me out of his pocket. I’ve donated a lot of money towards Fighting for Autism from shirt sales. I’ve tried to give back and do what I can for his support. He wants to make people aware of autism and the kids who have it.
Then I have Big Elk, they are a big oil and gas company. Mike Jackson’s Dad works over there. He brought it up to them, and ever since they’ve been on board. They’ve been one of my biggest sponsors. John Lately over there has been taking care of me, and I really appreciate them.
Tulsa Sport Acupuncture, Matthew Sheets and his wife Kelly. He gives me as much acupuncture as I need. I can see him anytime I want, he’ll clear his schedule for me. He’s a great guy. They traveled down to Texas and watched me fight Johnny Bedford. They paid out of their pocket to be there on top of his sponsorship. It’s great people like that, that keep me pushing.
Sand Springs Elks Lodge and The Office on Main. It’s two little bars that try to show my fights and support me. They’re not very big bars, just local bars that support me. Hopefully I’ll make it big, and they’ll be able to say I was there in their bar.
Q: Your LFA fight was on AXS TV, and Cox (the local cable company) doesn’t have the AXS channel, is that right?
Jimmy: Cox is the only one that doesn’t have AXS TV.
Q: So being able to go to The Elks Lodge or The Office on Main to see your fights is kind of a big deal for your fans when you’re not fighting in Oklahoma?
Jimmy: They serve food and drinks. It’s a nice place for people to go hang out and enjoy the fight. It’s good when I walk out and see the camera… it’s good to know there are hundreds of people on the other side of the camera who I personally know, who have all of their eyes on the TV watching me, and cheering for me. It’s pretty cool, and it motivates me to fight hard to get the win. I don’t like going back to them with a loss. It’s never fun.
Q: Speaking of not having a loss, you’re doing really well, 4 - 1 in your last 5 fights. You’re fighting at the top of the regional competitions, whether it’s XFN or LFA. Which is pushing into that UFC level. How does a fighter like you make that next jump into the UFC?
Jimmy: We just need to make the right decisions, pick the right fights. At 12 - 4, I’m at that point where I can’t just pick my fights. I can’t go fight an 0 - 3 guy, a 2 - 3 guy. I need to fight these guys with the records like I’ve been doing. I fought a 13 - 6 guy, an 8 - 5 guy, an 11 - 2 guy. Johnny Bedford was 23 - 13. In my last 4 fights, I’ve been fighting guys with over 20 pro fights. I need to pick the right fights, have good training camps, just go out there and get the win. I’m #1 in Oklahoma right now. I just beat the #1 guy in Tennessee. I need to continue to rack up the big wins and wait for the call.
Q: The UFC, what are they looking at when they decide to take on a fighter like you? What are some of the factors they’re looking at besides just wins and losses?
Jimmy: A lot of it is politics. It’s who you know, who you don’t know. Sometimes it’s not always about who you beat. I’ve fought on LFA and I was the main event, and I beat Johnny Bedford. But there were 2 guys on the undercard who fought under me who made it to the UFC that night. And they didn’t fight UFC vets that night. Sometimes it’s who you have behind you, who you know, who sees you fight. Hopefully one day the right person sees me fight, and they’ll want to give me my opportunity.
Q: Some people enjoy watching you fight. Do they have a chance to watch you spar at Thunderkick? Can they walk into the gym and watch you train for free?
Jimmy: Here at Thunderkick Tuesday and Thursday nights, we have jiu-jitsu from 5:30 - 6:30.
Q: See a few “Von Flicks”?
Jimmy: (laughing) see a few Von Flicks. We had a few of them today. We do the standup from 6:30 until 7:45 - 8:00. Saturday at 10AM, we come in and go straight at it for about an hour. I’m usually pretty vocal on social media and on facebook, about when we’re training, about when they can get tickets.
Q: The Saturday sparring is open to the city, open to anyone who wants to participate, right?
Jimmy: Yeah it’s open to the public. As long as you sign a waiver, you can get some rounds with us. Beginner or advanced, we’ll work with you. If you want to just get in and work, or if you want to spar with a pro fighter.
Q: How is Thomas part of your journey? How is he helping you get from the top of the LFA and XFN, and into the UFC?
Jimmy: Having somebody like Thomas… he’s been doing this since I was in diapers, doing kickboxing competitions and things like that. Thomas is a person who transitioned into jiu-jitsu very well. People think Thomas “Thunderkick” Longacre is just a kickboxer. No, he’s not only training and teaching kickboxing with us. He’s training us on the ground. I’ve been a brown belt for a very long time, I’m close to getting my black belt. Coming in here and training with Thomas, I’m learning everyday. I still have a long ways to go, even after I get my black belt. No matter what, he’s a great teacher. He’s helped out a lot. We’re still working on my standup, getting it to flow a little more. Let go a little loose. I let go a lot in the gym. Thomas sees it, he sees the potential, he keeps pushing me, wanting me to let it go out there in the cage. The more and more we keep working together, it’s just a matter of time before it flows together.