UFC heavyweight Shawn Jordan is one of very few fighters who has fought for Bellator, Strikeforce and the UFC. In fact his very first professional fight took place inside of the Bellator cage. Instead of beginning his mixed martial arts career on the regional scene he started off with what is now considered the number two promotion in the world and then took a few fights in some smaller organizations before returning once again to Bellator.
He has had stops in New York, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Louisiana and Nevada before finally making his UFC debut halfway across the world in Australia. He has been preparing for the big stage long before he began fighting. He played fullback for the LSU Tigers who are perennially one of the best teams in College Football and have the national spotlight on them just about every game they play. Jordan has been able to use all of this experience in his MMA career and looks to take the next step at UFC 149 when he takes on French Kickboxer Cheick Kongo in his toughest fight to date.
On top of having a strong athletic background he also has one of the best camps in his corner as well. Jordan is currently training at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Day in and day out his skills are tested against some of best fighters in the world. His fight plans are designed by one of the brightest head coaches and whether you are a seasoned veteran or a wide-eyed rookie having that type of coaching is invaluable.
“I did some wrestling in the 4th grade, but I grew up swimming competitively and I also played baseball, football and basketball,” Jordan told Five Ounces of Pain. “I only wrestled for one year up until I took it back up for my junior and senior year of high school. I won the Texas state championships and then I got a football scholarship to LSU where I played for five years. After my pro football aspirations dried up I decided to give MMA a try.”
“I began training at Jackson’s last July because Brian Stann has been there for a while now. Stann and I share the same agent, Robert Roveta. My manager felt it was in my best interest as a fighter to go through a real training camp to improve and expand my skill set. I had been training at Gladiators Academy in Baton Rouge, LA with Tim Creduer and nothing against them, but I needed to make a change. I love the elevation training and the constant influx of great training partners I get at Jackson’s MMA. Coach Mike Winklejohn has been a huge benefit to me and has worked really hard to improve my standup.”
Getting back to the earlier stages of his career, Jordan is grateful for all of the experiences he went through because they helped develop him into the fighter he is today. Each and every stop has been of some sort of benefit to Jordan and all led him to the UFC.
“I look at everything like they are growing steps,” admitted Jordan. “My first professional fight was for Bellator and by that time I was used to playing in front of 100,000 fans every game at LSU. To be honest I didn’t realize the difference in the size of the companies until after I had been fighting for a while. In my first four weeks as a pro I fought three times. In my 2nd fight I flew up to Buffalo and from there it was on to Pittsburgh to fight Carleton Haselrig who had played many years for the Steelers. He was also one of the best collegiate wrestlers ever and I won that fight via first round TKO.
“My trainer Rich Clementi believed in finding the best guys you can fight right off the bat. My first fight for Strikeforce was tough as I was a last minute replacement against Devin Cole,” Jordan continued, reflecting on his past dues. “Lavar Johnson had gotten hurt and they called me on a Tuesday night to fight that Friday. I was in a local bar hanging out when I got the call and I knew I couldn’t pass up such a huge opportunity so I took the fight. With so little time to get ready we had to do my medicals on the day of the weigh-ins. It was like getting thrown into the fire and even though I lost it was a great learning experience. I gassed out and lost a decision, but a week later I got the call to fight Lavar which I won by 2nd round submission.”
Even with having gone through all of those experiences and having played in front of huge crowds while at LSU it is still difficult to mimic all that goes along with making your UFC debut. You know you’ll be fighting on the biggest stage there is and in front of millions of people at home and around the world. Having to do all of this and fly to Australia is a lot to ask of anyone, but Jordan was ready to take the ball and run with it, no pun intended!
“I definitely had a little bit of nerves going into the fight,” The man known as “The Savage” explained. “I think the fact that I had been through all that I had been through with having fought for Bellator and Strikeforce really helped me get over them. I truly believe training at Jackson’s has also helped me a lot as well. Our fight was at 9:30 in the morning Australia time so I didn’t have a lot of time to get too anxious or worked up and as far as traveling is concerned that didn’t bother me much as I’ve become accustomed to flying all over the place to play football. I’ve also become accustomed to competing in hostile environments, but the fans in Australia were so awesome they cheered for everything. It didn’t matter if we were standing or grappling, they loved every aspect of every fight. Fighting in a huge arena in front of a sold out crowd, to me it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Kongo has been with the UFC for six years and is 10-5-1 inside the Octagon with an overall record of 17-7-2. He represents a big step up in competition for Jordan and is always a difficult fight for anyone. Jordan has some help preparing for Kongo as his teammate Travis Browne faced the French kickboxer back in October of 2010 at UFC 120 when the two men fought to a Draw. Having someone with such intimate knowledge of your opponent is clearly something Jordan will look to take advantage of.
“I actually just met Kongo this past week at the Fighters’ Summit in Las Vegas,” said Jordan. “We met at a pool party that I was at with Travis. I’ve been training a lot with Browne for this fight. but I think the key to winning this fight is which one of us is able to make the necessary adjustments. The winner will be the one who can overcome the adversity. Kongo has been around a long time and his standup is his strength, but he has improved his wrestling a great deal. It’s one of those things that he has enough skill and savvy as a veteran, he knows what his weaknesses are and he has worked on them. If you’ve watched his last few fights he’s been taking people down and he makes you have to think about that aspect of the fight as well.”
Come July 21 Jordan will know just how far he has come as a mixed martial artist. He knows he faces a stiff challenge in Kongo, but he also is very confident in his skills and where he is at as a fighter. As he sees it his future is bright and this is just another rung on the ladder he has been climbing his entire life. The fans can expect an exciting fight when these two meet in the cage.
“This fight is going to end like any other heavyweight fight,” Jordan explained. “Someone is either getting knocked out or it’s going to be a brawl for three rounds. Most of these fights don’t make it to the end because we all hit so hard. We train for three round fights, but they very rarely make it that far when you have a 265lb. man hitting you in the face! Kongo may not be the biggest heavyweight, but he is as strong as they come. One thing I do know is that I can handle myself and I believe I have the necessary skills to become a top heavyweight in the UFC.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC