Former bantamweight contender looking to climb ladder
Scott Jorgensen will be looking for war in Las Vegas.
The mohawked UFC bantamweight brings a fast-paced, hard-hitting style into the cage, and standing across from him Saturday at UFC 143 will be rising Brazilian star Renan Barao, a fighter who is as dangerous as they come.
Both are looking to stake their claim as the next contender to the bantamweight crown, and Jorgensen spoke to HeavyMMA about the matchup.
“I’m coming in as a fully focused, ready-to-fight, non-stop ball of fun,” Jorgensen said. “I’m going in there chin buried and ready to fight. I have a saying before every single fight, and that’s to take their heart and take their soul. I’m going to break him, get him tired – and then I’m going to finish him. I’m going to make him think about whether this was a fight he should’ve taken at this point in his career. I’m on a mission. I’ve had a taste of that UFC belt. I’ve fought for it once, and there is nothing that is going to stop me from fighting for it again and winning it.”
The taste Jorgensen referenced was a decision loss to current champion Dominick Cruz. In the fight, Cruz’s unorthodox striking kept Jorgensen off balance throughout the fight. Following the disappointing loss, Jorgensen bounced back in thunderous fashion when he knocked out Ken Stone with an overhand bomb from the guard position.
“What I learned from the fight with Cruz was that I needed to get back to what got me into the UFC,” he said. “The mentality that hard work pays off, nothing comes easy and the work ethic that got me there. In the fight with Cruz, I went in there thinking everything would go great – and it gave me a false sense of security that I would walk away with the victory no matter what. That fight taught me I have to stick to what has made me successful. Not just in my fight career, but life in general. I had to put in the hard work and get back to it.
“My next fight with Ken Stone, I wanted to go out there and make a statement. After I knocked him out, I was screaming, ‘I’m back! I’m back!’ and people might not have understood. It wasn’t that I necessarily went anywhere, but I was back to feeling like myself again. In the Cruz fight, I didn’t feel like myself. He was a better man that night, hat's off to him, but he definitely didn’t get the best Scott Jorgensen.”
Following the win over Stone, “Young Guns” collected another victory over MMA veteran Jeff Curran at UFC 137. The win put him back into the pack of contenders vying for a shot at the bantamweight crown, a collective that includes Barao.
“I think it’s a great fight,” Jorgensen said. “Neither one of us are afraid to let our hands go and stay on our feet. We both have excellent ground games. His is a little more jiu-jitsu based, where mine is more wrestling. I think the equalizer will be that I can dictate where this fight takes place. He’s never fought anyone with the type of wrestling I have, and I have a great knack for getting my opponents tired. Those types of things will change a fight quicker than anything.
“I think the pace I push in every single one of my fights is the deciding factor. I’m a very well-conditioned athlete, and I’m not afraid to get tired because I know I can function when I’m tired. I can perform just as well in third round as I do in the first. That is a huge factor when you go into a fight. You already have your mind made up that if you don’t get an early finish, you are perfectly comfortable taking your opponent into the later rounds. I fought a little bit of a slower pace against Jeff Curran, but my fight against Ken Stone is a great indicator of how I like to come out and fight. I get in their face, put the pressure on them and hurt people.”
While Jorgensen vs. Barao promises to be action-packed, title contender implications hang in the balance. Jorgensen has rebuilt the momentum he lost after his first attempt at dethroning Cruz, and Barao has created a buzz with his one-round domination of Brad Pickett. No matt what decisions the UFC makes, Jorgensen has his eyes on the prize and couldn’t be more excited to mix it up with his Brazilian counterpart.
“I definitely think this is a ‘Fight of the Night’ candidate,” Jorgensen said. “I have two of them in the past, and I’ve consistently put on exciting fights. I know Barao’s style is the same. It’s going to come down to when pressure meets pressure, and that’s when diamonds are made. It’s going to be a war on Saturday night, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I first started preparing for this thing. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a fight, and we’re going to go out there and open some eyes.
“With a performance that I’m proud of, and that would be a solid victory, there is no doubt in my mind I should be next in line for the title. Right now, my mind is fixed on fighting Barao and taking care of business. A win Saturday would be my third in a row, but those decisions are up to the UFC. I’d love to have a second shot at that belt, but first things first – I’m going to go out there and handle Barao."
Jorgensen and Barao fight on the main card of the UFC 143 pay-per-view, which takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The main card airs at 10 p.m. Eastern. Four preliminary card fights air live on Fuel TV starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. Additionally, a pair of prelims can be seen on the UFC's Facebook page at 7 p.m. Eastern.