Myles Jury knows that people are counting him out.
While he's unbeaten and hasn't even left the first round in his professional mixed martial arts career, "The Fury" will be taking on hands down the toughest opponent of his life on Saturday night (Dec. 29, 2012) when he battles The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 12 runner-up Michael Johnson on the UFC 155 preliminary card.
But don't tell Jury that you think his odds of victory are slim. According to the Alliance MMA fighter, this is exactly the type of fight he wanted, not some scrub to work up a winning streak against, but a bonafide challenge.
Jury spoke to MMAmania.com during a recent appearance on The Verbal Submission about facing long odds, preparing himself mentally for a tough challenge and rising to the occasion in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This upcoming fight against Michael Johnson caught a lot of people by surprise because Johnson's on this solid win streak which includes Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo. Then they match him up against you, who is 1-0 in the UFC, unbeaten, but still pretty untested. What do you think that says about you that the UFC would be willing to give you such a tough fight for your first non-TUF Finale bout?
Myles Jury: I just think that the UFC thinks a little bit higher of me. I'm not getting easy fights, guys with one fights or two fights in the UFC. I got Michael Johnson who was in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 12 and he's on a nice win streak. The UFC definitely wants to test me and I guess this shows where they think my skills are at so I'm ready for the challenge.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is that what you wanted? Instead of getting a fight that would be a slower progression of your talents, you wanted to get thrown right into the fire like this?
Myles Jury: What I wanted pretty much was I didn't want a top contender right off the bat and I didn't want the crappiest guy on the roster. I think someone like Johnson, who's got experience in the UFC, is on his way up in this division. I feel like I got a guy right in the middle and is the next step. I'm ready.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You do a lot of different things to take your mind off of the grind of training and fighting. What are some of the best distractions?
Myles Jury: I love to read. It varies, it depends on what my imagination is feeling like. I read a book recently called "Ninety Minutes in Heaven" and I've been reading a lot of books on business. Right now I'm reading a book called "The Creature from Jekyll Island" which is pretty good, talking about the federal reserve and where our money comes from. Whatever sparks my interest at the time. I also love to play chess. I played a lot of chess when I was on The Ultimate Fighter and those guys gave me a good challenge. Last but not least, I'm a big fan of Black Ops. I'm always on there in free time and I love killing zombies.
Myles Jury: Yeah, for sure. We also brought UFC veteran Eric Wisely out and he's a good person, acting like Michael Johnson when we sparred. Having Michael Chandler out here full time is great. You test yourself every day whether it's jiu-jitsu or sparring. Every day of practice is like a fight day because he's so talented you've got to stay on your toes at all times.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've referenced that you've worked with a sports psychologist. What are some of the things that you talk about to help mentally prepare you for a big fight like this?
Myles Jury: Some of the stuff we talk about is stuff that goes on in my mind. Why I think things, why I do things the way I do. The mind is really complex and I feel like it's one of the most underrated things in the sport. People are so into the physical training but I feel like preparing your mind is a really important part and it helps out a lot, especially when you're frustrated in training or have a feeling, or even just life in general. Life is so complex. You've got girl problems, big fights coming up, financial problems and all these things going on in your mind. It really helps to talk to somebody and put it all in perspective. It gives me tools to work on when I start feeling anxious, anxiety and helps put me in the right place. It definitely helps out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): And how helpful has that been for you lately with some of the distractions that have been going on concerning your good friend Jeremy Stephens' legal situation and his tough knockout loss recently?
Myles Jury: Yeah for sure, stuff like that, I get certain feelings for different situations and it helps to have somebody on the outside looking in. When you're in a situation, it's tough to step back and reflect and he gives me different scenarios, why I'm feeling the way I feel about things and it really helps me make sense of it all. This sport is physical, but the mental and emotional part can really be a roller coaster with the pressure and training and the fight, all that. It's really an emotional thing so having someone there help you deal with it is really important.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about your fight. Michael Johnson came back from some adversity in his last fight, surviving some serious trouble in the first round to come back and knock out Danny Castillo in the second. What did you take from that performance?
Myles Jury: I know Michael Johnson's tough. Danny had opportunities to put him away and he just couldn't do it. The start of that second right was like a brand new fight and Danny got caught. He looked good in the first round but got caught. That's why you have to be on your toes with this sport because there's so many ways to win and so many ways to lose. I wasn't too surprised just because after the first round, something like that could happen and anybody can get caught in this sport. I didn't think it was impossible, it was just a good job by him enduring a rough start.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): He's a powerful guy that can control where the fight takes place, standing or on the ground. What have you done to help prepare for him considering your strengths are primarily your length on the feet and your submissions?
Myles Jury: The most important thing was to mimic Michael Johnson in sparring, practice certain scenarios that will likely be taking place in the fight, certain combinations, certain techniques we think would be effective and just doing it over and over and over again. Other than that, it's just staying healthy in training and hoping it all works out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is there any way you can fully prepare yourself for the randomness of a fight? There's so much you can prepare for, that you can expect to happen, but what do you do if that doesn't happen? What do you do if you get caught off guard in a fight?
Myles Jury: The only way to prepare for that is to stay on your toes. You can't get too comfortable in a fight. The butterflies, the nerves, are good because that keeps you from relaxing too much and getting caught off guard by something out of nowhere.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're the type of guy that likes to write down his goals, both short term and long term. What are some of the things you'd like to accomplish as 2013 looms?
Myles Jury: Just like this year, I wanted one more fight in 2012, get a win over someone no one thinks I can beat, to appreciate the whole process before the fight, to get a black belt in jiu-jitsu, to go to a dance class, go to church, visit the ocean at least twice a week, and to keep my circle small with my close friends around me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now did you actually go to that dance class or is it still on your "to-do" list?
Myles Jury: I actually did. I went to downtown San Diego for a free salsa class. I thought it was pretty cool so I definitely want to try it again.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned that you wanted to beat a guy that no one thinks you can beat. Do you feel like a lot of people don't think you can win this fight?
Myles Jury: I do feel like a lot of people are counting me out in this fight. That's a role I don't mind playing. My whole career I've been put in situations where I was facing adversity and I either found a way to come out on top or I learned from my situation to come out a better fighter and a better person. I feel like a fight against a guy like Michael Johnson, who's got more buzz than me, that'll put me in a better position for my career and move me towards my ultimate goals. I'm excited about it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're visualizing this upcoming fight against Michael Johnson and you're replaying it over and over in your head. How do you see it playing out?
Myles Jury: I just see me fighting hard for all the rounds, staying active, hitting him, him hitting me and I see myself catching him with a good shot and either finishing him with a submission or with punches. I see myself finishing him.