For UFC middleweight Dustin Jacoby, everything has happened incredibly fast.
Less than one year ago, he was making his professional debut at Capital City Cage Wars fighting on the same card as his twin brother Darren. The Finney's Hit Squad fighter earned a first round technical knockout that night and hasn't looked back since.
In six professional fights, he's only gone past the midway point of the first round once, and every bout has been finished via stoppage.
The former collegiate starting quarterback was on Joe Silva's radar after knocking out 10-3 fighter Billy Horne just over one month ago and he stepped up on short notice in place of the injured Tim Credeur to fight on this Saturday's UFC 137 event.
Jacoby spoke with myself and Matt Bishop when he was a guest this past week on Bloody Elbow Radio. We gave him an opportunity to introduce himself to a wider audience. Check after the jump and see what the top prospect had to say.
"I'm 23 years old. I had my first amateur fight in the offseason. I played four years of college football and my twin brother Darren called me up one Saturday and said, "Hey man, I'm getting in a fight tonight," and I was like, "What do you mean?" I was 20 years old. I had never seen a UFC event nor had I ever seen a cagefight at that point and my brother called me up and sure enough, I got done with my football game and I drove about an hour away and I went and watched his first amateur fight and it was something I was very interested in but I could never see myself doing and heck, I went and had my first one and it was like an addiction. As soon as the next offseason came, I had another one and eventually I had 10 amateur fights."
"I got done with school in May of last year and on June 4th, I went down to Granite City at the H.I.T. Squad at Hughes Intensive Training, I met up with coach Mark Fiore and I started training full-time from that minute. I had my last amateur fight, I turned pro in November of last year and I've posted six straight victories since then. I've stayed busy, stayed training and sure enough, I knew that as long as I kept working hard and listening to coach and just doing the right things in and outside of the cage that my chance would come sooner or later. Now here we are today and it's quite a bit of excitement. There's a lot of buzz here in our gym and all my teammates are here every single day getting me pumped up and they keep reminding me how big of an opportunity this is and I'm truly blessed man. It's an awesome feeling."
Dustin Jacoby didn't just play college football, he was a three year starting quarterback for Quincy college. If you think of mixed martial artists that are former football players, you think of big defensive lineman or fullback at heavyweight like Matt Mitrione or Brendan Schaub or perhaps a hard-hitting linebacker at light heavyweight like Ovince St. Preux but as the undefeated middleweight mentions below, he wasn't one to shy away from contact.
"I was the quarterback in college. I'll tell you what, I don't know how many times I got yelled at from my coach because when I started scrambling he would tell me to get down or get out of bounds and I was always fighting for that extra yard. It's something I've just always been. I've been competitive, I've had that competitive mindset since the day I was born. I was walking at seven months and my parents would joke that I came out of my mom's womb with a football in my hand and I've just never done anything else in life. I've always practiced, I've always played competitively in something and it's awesome. Not too many quarterbacks fall into cagefighting but I guess I'm kinda unique."
Jacoby also delved into situations where his history at quarterback, his need to keep his wits about him in high pressure situations has helped in the transition to MMA.
"As a quarterback, you have to keep your composure and you have to be very poised especially when you're playing on the collegiate level. I started three years at the collegiate level and that's always been my biggest asset, just being able to keep my composure and really staying poised in the heat of the moment and that's followed over into my cagefighting. It's not always the biggest strongest, meanest dude that you see beating up people. It's the guy that can effectively transition from position to position and always think ahead. It's kinda like playing chess, you've got to always think ahead. You never want to put yourself in a bad spot and that's what I do very well. I'm always playing through every scenario possible before a fight and I'm always one step ahead. That's something I did very well on the football field and it's translated over to the cage."
Jacoby wasn't simply a football player making the transition to mixed martial arts either. He has a long and storied history of competition in very useful sports like wrestling and even a martial art like taekwando. As the Quincy University product explains, he's been working in sports nearly his entire life.
"I grew up in Colorado and at the age of four years old, I have the twin brother and he and I started doing taekwando at the age of four and we started wrestling at the age of five. Growing in Colorado up wrestling was like basketball in Chicago or football in Georgia, it was the cream of the crop so we were wrestling year round. Eventually we put down the taekwando after four years of doing it because we were so busy with wrestling and then at the age of 12 we moved to a very, very small area in central Illinois and my high school didn't have wrestling at all and my brother and I were super bummed and we didn't know what we were gonna do. I never touched a basketball until I moved to Illinois but then I ended up being all-state in high school basketball so that just kinda tells you I'm real athletic and I can move well in different things I try. Me and my buddies had this underground boxing league, nothing real credible but I'll tell you what man, everybody I boxed ended up going down."
A very animated Jacoby discussed just how and when it was that he came to find himself fighting at UFC 137 despite having been competing professionally for less than a year.
"I had just fought Billy "Mojo" Horne, a very tough competitor and I had just fought him September 4th and that ended up being a really quick fight, I won in a 37 second knockout and I knew that with that win, the kid was 10-3, I knew that I was right there. I knew I was on the list. I knew that Joe Silva had warned us that I was on the radar so I told my manager and my coach, "We've got to get a fight ASAP, I want to be 7-0 and I want to get in the UFC before this year ends." They got me a fight, I was getting ready to fight on October 15th and at the very end of September I got the phone call, it was actually late at night, I was getting ready to go to bed and sure enough it was a call to fight in the UFC. At the drop of a dime I said, "I'm in, man." There was no hesitation. I'm already training for October 15th so I'll hold off a few weeks and go October 29th so it all worked out."
The talented young fighter closed the interview by explaining what he needs to do on Saturday night if he wants to earn a win in his UFC debut.
"The biggest key for me, I say it over and over again like I'm a broken record, but keeping my composure, not letting the pressure get to me, performing like I know how to perform, using my movement and not getting lackadaisical as far as leaving my hands down, remembering to say moving, keep my head moving and just be prepared for everything. It's a huge stage, but it's another fight. I've just got to be me and put on the show that I know I'm capable of putting on and I know I'll do just fine."
So what do you think Maniacs?
Can this former college quarterback score in his first UFC appearance? Or will this be too much, too fast for a fighter who hasn't even been active professionally for a year yet? What's your first impression?