If you missed what has happened to Dustin Jacoby over the past few months, you've missed one of the most surprising stories in all of kickboxing.
Jacoby, who's a relatively young and still inexperienced (9-3) mixed martial arts (MMA) practitioner, entered into a feeder tournament for the world's premier kickboxing organization on two day's notice. In what was clearly supposed to be a case of lamb led to his slaughter, the 0-2 UFC veteran flipped the script and won the whole damn thing.
Including a nice little $20,000 payday.
Jacoby's first match-up was against ISKA Heavyweight Champion Randy Blake, who was 25-1 at the time, and the lone defeat was to Mirko Filipovic. Jacoby was losing the first two rounds, but became more aggressive and won by technical knockout (TKO) in the third.
In the second fight of the evening, he faced fellow MMA fighter and Bellator vet Roy Boughton, who's a natural light heavyweight (Jacoby fights at 185 pounds in MMA) and he proceeded to stop him in the opening frame. The finals match between him and Brian Collette -- who happens to be his first opponent Saturday night at GLORY 9 -- ended in yet another knockout victory for the unlikely champion from the midwest.
Jacoby would go on to win an MMA bout a month later in his hometown and then again in a kickboxing match at GLORY 5 in London just three weeks later, losing to erstwhile veteran Michael Duut on a referee stoppage.
I spoke with the fighter who's hoping to repeat his Cinderella run to a tournament win at GLORY 9 this weekend in "The Big Apple."
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): You were training at Xtreme Couture and then in Holland. Where are you at now, still with XC? Finney?
Dustin Jacoby: No, you know, I started out my career going out to the H.I.T. Squad in Granite City (IL), which was then Hughes [Matt Hughes] Intensive Training. Now I believe it's Finney's HIT Squad, and the "HIT" doesn't stand for anything but hit, but there was a whole transition that went there, and I was at Finney's for a few months and then I went with Marc Fiore to [The MMA Clinic] Springfiled, which was around my hometown, growing up a little bit.
I just went out to Xtreme Couture for a month, I wasn't there for a long time, just for a month and got some training in, and then went to Holland. But I'm here in Springfield now.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): I heard you were exclusive to World Series of Fighting (WSOF) at one point, but you just had a fight with Capital City Cage Wars against Andrew Sanchez this past March. How'd that come about? Ray Sefo just a cool guy and let you take an outside fight?
Dustin Jacoby: Yeah, I did sign an exclusive contract, which I'm still signed with WSOF, but I was able to go out there, train at Xtreme Couture, and meet Ray Sefo, and the guys at the organization (WSOF) are reciprocal, man. They let me get a fight in my hometown, and they also let me sign with GLORY, so now as long as I just work well with both of them and communicate... you know Ray Sefo is a kickboxing legend and he's a kickboxing guy and he's a fighter. So he understands my position and where I'm at. You know, he's not just gonna keep me on the shelf just sitting there without a fight lined up, and things worked out.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): Speaking of the Sanchez fight, I couldn't find any information on how it went down. Walk us through what happened in that fight.
Dustin Jacoby: Andrew Sanchez was a two-time collegiate All-American wrestler and a national champion out of McKendree College [Note: when Sanchez wrestled there, it was in the NAIA. It has since joined the NCAA in Division 2). He was a tough prospect and an undefeated kid. I actually trained with Andrew a couple times back at Finney's. He probably stole the first round with a takedown, but I got back up to my feet, battered him up the whole time. In the second round, it was back and forth, he got another takedown, I got back up to my feet and towards the end of the round, I end up dropping him with some punches. I was pretty close to finishing the fight, but the bell rang and we went into the third round. I completely... had him rocked and dominated the third round, so I ended up winning the decision.
I believe I'm still his only loss. He's a tough kid. He'll bounce back and he'll be in the big show before it's said and done.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): You're fighting in New York City, have you ever been here before?
Dustin Jacoby: No, I've never been to New York, it's gonna be pretty cool.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): Want some recommendations on places to eat at?
Dustin Jacoby: Ha! Yea, my manager's here, but I'll take any recommendations.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): Well, I've got some good burger and BBQ recommendations near where you're staying, but that's after the fight stuff. Pre-fight, I don't know how your diet is, I know you're not cutting a lot of weight for this fight. Speaking of, what do you weigh right now?
Dustin Jacoby: I woke up around 214 today, so I'm not cutting hardly any weight at all. I'm fighting at 209 pounds, which is 95 KG. I'm right where I want to be. I can wake up, go for a light jog, go to the bathroom for a minute and be ready.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): Yeah, that'll work! Speaking of your weight, you mentioned you would be going down to your normal weight class, fighting at 187. What happens if you win this light heavyweight tournament? Are you still going to go through with that and be a two-division champion?
Dustin Jacoby: Yeah, you know, if I go in there and win the tournament -- which I fully plan to do -- I have every intention of going in there, fighting three different opponents and finishing all three of them. And if I do that, I become champion. If that were the case, I would probably stay up and work harder at staying a little bit bigger and trying to change up some things in training. If I become champion, I might really focus on the kickboxing. Say that doesn't happen, I can feel comfortable going down to 187 and go from there.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): There's been a rash of MMA guys beating up current/former kickboxing guys. Junior Dos Santos over Mark Hunt; Shawn Jordan over Pat Barry; "Cro Cop" losing to Brendan Schaub and Frank Mir; Antonio Silva taking out Alistair Overeem... and also yourself. Is this a trend? Blip? Are the better strikers (or fighters) all in MMA now?
Dustin Jacoby: I tell you what, I believe the best stand-up fighters in the world, you're gonna see them Saturday night in the GLORY 9 Light Heavyweight Tournament. I went over there to Holland, and I trained with a lot of those guys who are C- and B-class fighters, which are amateur over there... and we're talking stand-up, just stand-up, if they come over here and train for a bit with some of the guys that I've trained with that are pros, I guarantee they would every bit hold their own. I kind of see it from both sides... You get some MMA guys that try and do kickboxing, and you're gonna find out real quick that it's a different sport.
The guard's different, the combos are different. You know, when I went over there and fought Michael Duut in London. I went in there and thought I was gonna knock him out. I was doing really well, I was doing real well: being aggressive, using my slips well, using my jab, and he was just waiting the whole time, waiting for me to slip up and he did it. He countered me with a couple hooks, so... It's just a completely different game. I just think that it just so happens that it played out like that, but there's really nothing to it.
I'm an MMA guy and the MMA guys are 100-percent fighters. Look at the Road to Glory tournament that I won. With me being an MMA guy, just having that fighter mentality and going in there knocking people out. Kickboxers sometimes, they play the kickboxing game, and a lot of decisions, just back and forth and it's a completely different game.
Cory Braiterman (MMAmania.com): One last question, what is the hardest you've been hit?
Dustin Jacoby: I don't know. I'd probably have to say in my second UFC fight against Chris Camozzi, who went on a tear himself, getting up to the co-main event. I think he might've taken the first round... 10 seconds into the first round, he caught me with a looping right hook that put me right on my butt. He didn't knock me out, but my nose doesn't look so pretty because of that punch.
GLORY 9: "New York" will be headlined by an eight-man tournament featuring a line-up of top light heavyweight (209 pounds/95 kilograms) kickboxers this weekend, including Tyrone Spong, in "The City That Never Sleeps." You can watch a LIVE video stream of all the GLORY 9 action right here on MMAmania.com beginning at 6 p.m. ET on June 22 by clicking here.