From bouncing loud mouthed punks out of Fat Jack’s in Columbus, Ohio, to bouncing six of the seven men that have stepped before him in his professional mixed martial arts career, Jason “The Juggernaut” Riley is well aware that he will be in for the fight of his life this evening as he faces off with former UFC champion Tim Sylvia in the main event of Adrenaline IV.
It’s not that Riley feels like “The Maine-iac” is that much tougher than any of the men he has faced off with in the past, but he’s definitely the most recognizable. In this day and age it’s common knowledge: To make that move to the big leagues, you’re gong to need a big name under your belt.
That’s where Sylvia comes in for Riley. A win over a heavyweight with a name like Tim’s could do wonders for an up and coming talent such as himself, and the 6’6″, 250 pound Riley plans to make the most of it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com had the opportunity to catch up with Riley in this exclusive interview conducted on the evening prior to tonight’s heavyweight showdown set to take place in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I know that you’re decision to become involved in MMA stems from your deep-rooted love for fighting; Would you that you got into a fair amount of fights growing up?
Jason Riley: Not so much as a kid, but as a bouncer, yeah. I worked at one of the toughest night clubs on the west side of Columbus, Ohio.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Alright, what club was that?
Jason Riley: It used to be called Fat Jack’s.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Okay, so was it like a strip club, or a night club?
Jason Riley: It was a night club. It was hip hop, slash, everything else. Music and a big bar.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So it would just get like crazy packed normally?
Jason Riley: Oh yeah, it was crazy, and then you get a lot of people that you would usually see in jail coming in and out of there, and start fighting, so….
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What was your major motivation behind becoming involved with MMA?
Jason Riley: Well I’ve always been a fan of the sport and wanted to try it out, and after I did, I fell in love with it even more. It’s just fun to me. You get to test yourself, and kind of see how much of a man you can really be.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So did you start training while you were bouncing, before, or after?
Jason Riley: Actually it was after I quit bouncing. I had a gun pulled on me and that’s why I ended up quitting bouncing. A couple years later I came across a little gym in my hometown and I started training there. Soon afterwords I took a fight on just a couple of weeks notice. I beat the guy up pretty bad, so after that I figured that, “If I could do this with no training, imagine what I could do with some people that were good”.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I’ve always kind of felt punching power is something that can be difficult to develop; When was the first point that you realized that you may have had some fairly heavy hands?
Jason Riley: It had to have been my first amateur fight. I fought an ex-military guy, and he was a cop, and I ended up breaking both of his eye sockets and his nose in like four minutes.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Were you kind of at a point in our career where you felt like you needed a big name under your belt, and Tim just happens to be that guy?
Jason Riley: Yeah, I was already moving in the right direction, but I know that the bigger organizations wouldn’t take me because I haven’t fought anyone that was well recognized. As soon as this opportunity arose, I jumped all over it. It’s a win-win situation for me.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What do you think about Tim’s stand-up game? Do you feel like you’re going to have a decisive edge on the feet if the fights stays there?
Jason Riley: Yeah, I think so. I think that I move a lot better than Tim does, as far as head movement and cutting angles go. I wouldn’t say that he’s one-dimensional, but he’s pretty square, and he’s kind of like a robot. I’m surprised he’s gotten as far as he has. I think the only reason that he has gotten as far as he has in the sport is because he’s such a big guy.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: And obviously you’re a pretty big guy as well. It’s not like he hasn’t faced other big dudes in his career, but do you think your height and reach will end up giving him some problems?
Jason Riley: Oh yeah. Like he’s fought big guys before, like…. I don’t know… I don’t even want to throw his name out there because I don’t like the guy either, but Wes Sims. And Wes Sims’ stand-up is horrible.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Wes is a totally different fighter than you.
Jason Riley: Yeah, I don’t think Tim has fought anybody with his own height and weight that has just as good of a stand-up game as him. Also, I don ‘t stand in place for more than a second, so it’s going to be hard for him to connect.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Do you think his chin may be a little bit suspect following the Mercer fight?
Jason Riley: I think that Tim underestimated Mercer, which he should have never done. The last thing to go on a man is his power. Just because Mercer was like 48, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have punching power still. I don’t think Tim trained very hard for that fight either. He weighed in at like 310 pounds. There’s no way he could move very well at 310 pounds. I just think that this fight is going to go pretty much the same way as the Mercer fight. Maybe not as fast, but it will be the same result.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you see this fight playing out in your mind right now?
Jason Riley: I think Tim’s going to end up knocked out again. It’s been proven that he has a weak jaw. He got knocked down by Randy, Andrei, Mercer and Fedor. He’s pretty been knocked down by the same punch, or combination of punches every time. We’ll see what happens. I’m looking forward to it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: If the UFC comes calling after this fight with Sylvia, is that a step you’re going to be prepared to make at this point in your career?
Jason Riley: Oh yeah! Most definitely. I know I’m ready for that step, it’s just a matter of getting an opportunity to do it so that I can prove to everybody that I belong in there against the best fighters in the world.