LSU's Jordan talks UFC 149
Great athletes come in all sizes and the UFC's brightest prospect may lie in the form of former LSU fullback turned professional heavyweight fighter Shawn Jordan.
Since his days playing at the SEC powerhouse, Jordan has worked diligently to obtain the same success in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
While football is certainly a different sport, it also has similarities that have been beneficial to Jordan's successful transition to the Octagon prior to facing Cheick Kongo Saturday night live on pay-per-view at UFC 149.
"The things that carried over the most between the two sports, one is we train so hard for football (because) we train year around and we beat each other up all year and it really, really instilled mental toughness in you," Jordan recently told Heavy.com. "So, that mental toughness from playing football at a high level and playing in front of a 100,000 fans live and million fans on t.v. and that ability to handle that pressure kind of carried over as well. But yeah, being able to compete in tough situation, travel, and compete on short-notice is really good skills to be able to take away from football into this sport.
“It's been extremely beneficial for me and it's helped me improve my game and my skill level. It's turned my fighting completely around, plus Coach Wink has done so much for me in my stand-up and using my athletic ability to really kind of tailor make a style for me to fight with. And Greg is great at game planning and fine tuning everything for you, so having the two of them in your corner as coaches is extremely beneficial for any fighter.
The aforementioned "Coach Wink" is Mike Winkeljohn of the famed Jackson-Winkeljohn camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Along with Greg Jackson, Coach Winkeljohn has helped mold a host of fighters into world champions including current UFC light-heavyweight king Jon Jones and interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. According to Jordan, "Coach Wink" is responsible for his vastly improved skill-set that's visible each time he competes on the world stage.
"Coach Winkeljohn is probably most responsible for helping me to do as well as I've done and in the fashion I've done it in,” said Jordan. “Who would've thought that I would've came into a matchup with Oli Thompson and do a complete standup fight? Going into there with Oli I didn't really get hit that much and pretty solid, but I didn't take a whole lot of damage. A lot of it is working with Coach Winkeljohn, he sees me doing things and tells me to do things that he kind of fabricates it to where it fits my style and my ability. So, he's actually done wonders and in my opinion is responsible for my improvement to this point."
In his Octagon debut against Oli Thompson this past March at UFC on FX 2, Jordan impressed by using superior athleticism and power to collect a second-round knockout.
He'll need to show continued improvement against talented striker and 16-time UFC veteran Cheick Kongo, who represents Jordan's toughest test to date on Saturday night. Jordan has embraced the opportunity that lies in front of him once they step inside the Octagon.
"Cheick Kongo in my opinion is a big and strong heavyweight fighter and striker,” Jordan said. “He's done well and I think he's adapted well over the years. They're bringing so many athletes into the sport now and especially in the division because a lot athletes are big guys, so they're bringing these guys in from football, wrestling, and what not. I think he's done well adapting and trying to learn and improve his game to compete with these guys and he's done a great job at doing it and he's still dangerous against anybody.
“So, I'm really excited about it and it's a great opportunity for me to test my skills to see how far I've come along against a guy that's basically a legend. Anybody that even knows a little bit about fighting probably knows Cheick Kongo. So, it's a great opportunity for me to compete against somebody like that."
Regardless of Saturday's outcome against Kongo, Jordan's coaching staff has stated that he likely remains two-years away from reaching his prime in the sport's most tenacious division. From LSU to the world famous Octagon, Jordan is a fighter to keep on your radar.