Bellator MMA's roster continues to boast dangerous up-and-coming prospects like Welterweight dynamo Michael Page, as well as fast-rising Featherweight phenom Jordan Parsons (11-1), who is looking to become the next man up to cause a stir.
Parsons, 25, is set to take on All-American wrestler Bubba Jenkins (9-2) in the co-main event of Bellator 146 inside WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., this Friday night (Nov. 20, 2015).
The North Dakota native and winner of four-straight relocated to South Florida to train at the well-known Blackzilians camp, which comprises coaches such as Henri Hooft and Neil Melanson, the latter of which he spent time with while at Alliance MMA in San Diego.
Parsons spoke with MMAmania.com prior to his fight against "The Highlight Kid" about holding his first fight camp with the Blackzilians, exposing Jenkins, not getting enough publicity and much more.
What's been the biggest difference between training at Alliance MMA and now in your new home at Blackzilians?
JP: It's been great, man. It's like any university. In the morning we've got team training and at night we usually have some private [workout] with the coaches and small group of three-to-four people, where you get to work on specifics. That to me is great because the technical work is a big thing. The one thing to me that I notice a lot of people don't like to do, but makes the biggest difference when it comes down to performance.
Then we've got our strength and conditioning program as well, which is great. The whole teamwork between the coaches is the biggest difference. The whole gameplan they put together for everybody. Everything goes together.
Can you talk about some of the veterans you have to work with there?
JP: Really, I have quality partners still. I had great ones there. When I was there, I think we had six of the top people in the world around my weight class. It's still remains the same coming here. You have guys who are great at everything. There's a lot more black belts out here. Everybody is really good at kickboxing, thanks to Henri Hooft out here.
Neil Melanson, former jiu-jitsu coach at Alliance, moved to South Florida to coach at the Blackzilians camp. How important was that for you and what does he do to round out your skills?
JP: Neil is a great piece to the puzzle for me. He has a system -- he's just not out there showing me a move. He's giving me concepts to work with. He's showing me why I'm doing things. I want to know when to use them and how to set them up. Along with the other coaches, they do the same things and invest there time. The coaches seem happy out here, which is a big thing to me. Some places; coaches are burnt out. Neil also lets me know when I'm doing too much, which seems to be one of my bigger problems.
What have you added to your tool belt and what can we expect to see in your fight versus Bubba?
JP: Really, just patience and a higher skill level. Every time I step in there, I'm trying to be a better Jordan Parsons. The biggest competition I have in my mind always is beating myself; being better than I was before. You guys can expect to see me come out there with hard work, dedication and heart. Those are the three things I take very serious. I'm not somebody who breaks, I break people. I'm going to test his chin and his will.
Do you need a big build-up to get you motivated out there and compete at a higher level?
JP: I don't need any outside motivation to be honest. I feel that I can always motivate myself. A lot of coaches have said over time, it takes champions to motivate themselves. I believe I have that trait where I don't need an outside force to push me. I'm going to push myself hard than anyone ever could.
In today's MMA world, do you feel it's necessary to talk your way into fights and as a spectator, which fighter do you enjoy watching the most?
JP: I really miss having GSP [Georges St-Pierre] in the sport to be honest. No matter what anyone ever said about him, he came out there and he executed his game plan to a tee and he kept that belt and retired with it. Will he come back? I hope so. I hope to see more out of him. I'm really excited to watch Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler. Robbie has been around for a long time and finally got his hands on the belt. I respect that greatly. The same thing with Anthony Johnson. Anthony Johnson used to be down at 170 -- it's been a long time, but he's up there in the rankings again.
Even people like Conor McGregor. I know a lot of people don't like him, but all he's doing is going out there and saying that he's better than people. People don't like that because they think it's cocky, but I think it's supreme self confidence. I respect that 100 percent.
I've really had a chance to sit down with people over the years and ask them things when I get a chance. Back in Minnesota, I got a chance to speak with Pat Barry about personalities that people bring to the table and I asked him whether it was better to be the good guy or the bad guy. He told me that he thought about that one time and he decided that being himself was the easiest way to go because you can always play a role for so long.
What do you think about a guy like Demetrious Johnson? Has he been treated fairly by the fans, or does he owe them and the media more?
JP: I don't think it's fair that the fans point fingers at him because in my opinion, at this point, Demetrious Johnson is the most well-rounded mixed martial artist currently in the game. You can't tell me there's a spot where he's ever really been in trouble. He's not.
Everywhere he goes, he's comfortable and he's pushing the pace the entire time. I think it's more that the flyweight division doesn't sell as much as the rest of the weights. You don't see many knockouts and those are little guys, so people don't respect that because the casual fan likes to say, 'I can beat that guy up, or I don't know if I can beat that guy up.' The only ones pointing fingers are a little less knowledgeable in this sport.
Back to a fighter you're pretty familiar with, do you think that Dominick Cruz wins his belt back from T.J. Dillashaw in January?
JP: I do. I've met him down there at Alliance, got to train with him and speak with him. He's a motivated guy. He's one of those people that doesn't need any outside forces. He seems serious and I think he's going to come back. In his last fight, he looked better than I've seen him in years. He finished one of the top-ranked guys after a two-year layoff. I think he's going to beat down T.J. Dillashaw. He's young and a great fighter, but Dominick Cruz is one of the best in the world and I think he'll be considered one of the greatest of all-time when his time is done.
What was it like to come back in May and get a win over a previously undefeated fighter in Julio Cesar?
JP: It felt pretty good, especially since he was antagonizing me in the back. The put us just across the hall from each other in the hotel all week. That part felt pretty good. It was satisfying. I got the chance to read some interview that he was going to finish me on the ground with a submission since he hasn't done it in a while. Then seeing him get submitted and immediately cut after that had to bring him back to reality. It was nice to be that hammer of force that got to show somebody that their hype was not them.
I had that whole year off. All I did was think about getting back in there. When I finally got my shot, I wasn't about to give it up for nothing. I don't feel I performed at my best, but at the same time, my mind was in a great place. It's even better now that I know I can put down people that are winning.
How much more fighting will you have to do in order to reach your ultimate goal?
JP: That's kind of up to the organization. I'm just coming out to put it on Bubba and show that I'm ready. I'm ready to fight the best people they got. That's what I train so hard for and that's where the belief comes from. That's what it's all about for me; it's testing myself. At this point, they're not doing too much publicity on me. It's all about Bubba Jenkins. It was all about Julio before and you see how that turned out.
What's been the basis for your training camp? What do you need to watch out for on Bubba's end?
JP: I work on everything as a whole. I'm prepared for those takedowns that he's going to try and put out there. You've probably seen Bubba fight before; it's never anything spectacular. He kind of goes out there and tries to get the win. He kind of portrays that, but deep down, I don't think he believes that in his heart. He's come out and shown he can beat people with losing records. What happens when you get out there with someone who doesn't quit and is dead serious. You saw him get choked unconscious when he got kicked one time and shot a sloppy double-leg. I think he's going out there to make mistakes.
Before we wrap this up, can you give us your expectations for this fight, as well as how you think it will end?
JP: I think it's going to end badly for Bubba. My hand is getting raised and I'm going to finish him one way or another. He's going to get hurt in between that time until the referee pulls me off of him. He's going to learn that there are bad men out here and I'm one of them. When the lights come on, I shine.
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