Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Bantamweight title challenger -- and current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter -- Scott Jorgensen (15-11), takes on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America" winner, Alejandro Perez (15-6), at UFC Fight Night 78 this Saturday night (Nov. 21, 2015).
It comes after a tumultuous period in the ZUFFA career of "Young Guns," who made a trip down to the Flyweight division in Dec. 2013, where he notched just one win. Overall, the 33-year-old heads into his meeting with "El Diablito" with a 4-7 record in his last 11 outings.
Jorgensen, a fan favorite dating back to his days in WEC, spoke with MMAmania.com about how his mentality changed in the 125-pound division, where he thinks he went wrong in his losses, his affinity for video games and what the future holds.
Check it out:
You're back up at the bantamweight division after a one-year run at flyweight, how do you feel mentally?
SJ: Mentally, I'm not going to lie to you, that year down at 125 [pounds] -- it wasn't just the losses, but I mean, I hadn't been to 125 pounds since I was 17 years old. It was my own decision in the end, but I was definitely influenced by people close to me that thought I could do it. I made 125. The one time I missed it; I guarantee you it was not about anything other missing a flight to Rio de Janeiro and getting there a day late. Over the course of being down at 125, I lost track of what fighting is. It became more about cutting weight. It's the worst fucking thing in the world. It's not fun. I got to the point where cutting that much weight for eight weeks -- it just wasn't fun. I didn't get into this sport to go back to college to cut my nuts off just to make weight.
I never should have left 135 pounds. I should've listened to Sean Shelby [UFC Matchmaker] every time he told me, 'This is a stupid idea.' I'm hard-headed. I think I know everything sometimes. You learn from mistakes. I'm definitely not ever doing that again.
Was this just a case of a fighter not knowing what's best for him?
SJ: It was a quick way back to a title fight I felt. Ever since I lost to Dominick [Cruz], I lost track of why I started fighting. Why I started fighting was because I enjoy competition and I love what I do. Just fighting and getting wins puts me right back to fighting for the title. It's been a rough go since I dropped to 125, but at the end of the day it's all behind me. I took a lot of my losses hard. You compound not enjoying the sport anymore, from cutting weight to a loss, and there was just negative energy when it came to getting ready for fights.
Did you ever second guess your decision at all?
SJ: While I was doing it, I didn't second guess it. I know for a fact I'm a better fighter than a lot of the guys I lost to a 125 pounds. I took [Zach] Makovsky very lightly -- I thought I had that fight won. I was training for [Ian] McCall and then [John] Dodson. The week before we get Makovsky. Through it, I remember I made weight the night before at 125 pounds. I had never done that before at 135 pounds, but I've done it at 125 pounds. I thought I had the fight won. I baby'd my weight too much. Like I said, fighting became about the weight cut. Once I made weight the night before, I remember looking at Joe and my team and saying, 'I won this fight.' And I fought that way, I went out there and fought like I just had to show up.
When I fought [Jussier] Formiga, he's fucking lucky he got a head-butt. And it's not that I got head-butted and he finished me. It's what he said after that aggravates me. He was talking shit. He couldn't hit me before, then he magically drops me, jump on my back and submits me. Fuck that dude. I just had some shit luck. I went out there and fought well against [Danny] Martinez in Albuquerque and then Wilson Reis, he caught me. I missed weight. That was a struggle. It messed with my head a little bit, but I dropped him in 30 seconds. I should've finished the fight. He battled back and got me.
Then, I step in -- I'm out almost nine months -- to fight Manny Gamburyan two weeks before I get a MRSA staph infection in my ribs. I get that cleared up after being out for five days and then my first day back training, I tore my MCL. I hadn't fought in nine months, I needed to fight.
Is there any fighter that you're friends with in the sport that you look up to that made you realize, 'Hey, I better get my butt back up to bantamweight?'
SJ: No, I've grown up cutting weight, man. This is all I know. People don't understand [laughs]. I've been doing this since I was 13-14 years old wrestling and now fighting. I watched guys do it in college. I've always known you don't have to cut a lot of weight to be successful. In my mind, I wasn't cutting that much weight, but in the beginning and then when you miss weight. I was a day late. It honestly shouldn't have impacted me because the weight cut wasn't that bad for me. Missing weight in Rio and being able to realize, 'How did this just happen?' Well maybe I'm cutting too much weight because there's no way in hell I shouldn't have been able to do that. When I stopped sweating with plastics on in the sauna, that's when I realized at that point I should go back to 135 and be happy.
Kit Cope, my head trainer, you look at my run at 135, while I'm down there, the guys I lost to weren't no slouches. I don't give a shit, I'm one of the best in the world and I don't care what people look at my record over the last couple of years. I'm still one of the best fighters in the world.
I don't give a shit about anyone else. I'm going out there to fight. I've turned a lot of interviews down. I'm working with Dr. Jim Afremow, author of, "Gold Medal Minds," and I used to get annoyed with these because they're full of -- they're an opinion based off what? An observation. I can make that stuff of of things I know nothing about all day long. At the end of the day, in my honest opinion, the media may watch these fights and think you know what's going. You don't see what happens in a fight camp and don't know what I walk into that fight with. You just don't understand what a fight is outside of what you watch.
With Dr. Afremow, I'm getting my head refocused and back on the right track. I'm a stand-up guy, I'm a hard-ass fighter. That's the bottom line.
I believe fighting is 90 percent mental. I know for a fact that I get the work handled outside of the cage. I just had to make sure I'm back with my head straight. That's why I was kicking ass for so long at 135. Then, I go and lose to Dominick. Tough dude. I'm not ashamed of it. I'm still pissed I lost to him, but I'm not ashamed. Your mind is a weapon.
What do you think of this current UFC climate and the way title shots are given out?
SJ: The UFC's job is to put asses in seats. It's the fighter's job to entertain and somewhere along that line, the UFC has got to make some decisions on who they want to match up. It sucks because, I mean, it's not a bracketed system. There's a lot of injures and there's a lot of things that go into it.
Tell us about your Twitch channel and the kinds of video games you play and stream.
SJ: People get a kick out of professional athletes. I play Call of Duty [COD] competitively. I've been to a couple of tournaments. I'm not the best, but I mean, I also only started playing COD not too long ago. I'm not a kid who played shooters his whole life. I played sports games, but I've always been a big fan of video games.
If you introduce me to competitive sh-it that I like, it'll become something that I enjoy. Everybody is talking about how E-sports aren't a real sport. I think these kids are amazing; the amount of reaction time and critical thinking skills it takes in a game like COD.
I stream on Twitch and I guess I lead the charge, because beyond just myself, Demetrious [Johnson] is streaming regularly, Rampage [Jackson]. We make some money from it, but it's another outlet for us to entertain our fans. It's a fun way to interact. I've made so many new fans from Twitch.
Do you think you'll do even more gaming after retirement?
SJ: I'm not done fighting. I don't even know if I'll fall back on gaming. I've got a lot of things -- I own a gym. I walked away [from being a marketing director at a home health company] from that when I quit working full-time when I fought Dominick. The deal was, Okay, here's this home health care agency. I was given 40 percent ownership because I was a marketing director and very good. They said, 'Build the agency, retain your 40 percent and then we'll talk about another one.' Literally, at the time I signed to fight Dominick, I said, 'I can't do this.' I gave it all back. I wanted for the first time ever to be a pro athlete and not having anything to worry about.
How confident are you in writing your next chapter when your MMA career is wrapped up?
SJ: Wherever -- like I tell a lot of people, I'm not done writing this story. I'm about to write an even bigger story in MMA. If for some reason, I couldn't fight tomorrow, I'll be fine. I won't be doing something I love necessarily, but I'm an intelligent individual, I'm hard-working and I'm successful in anything that I do.
I'm still 33 years old, I've never had serious injury that required surgery. I would consider myself very lucky. When I don't want to wake up, go train and get better, that's when it's time to hang it up. When it doesn't become fun anymore.
What's your fight camp been like and what have you been focusing on before you take on Alejandro?
SJ: My fight camp has been great. We're focusing on me again. I haven't watched anything on Alejandro; I don't need to know, I've been in fights.
This sounds funny, but I've never watched any tape on a fighter leading up to my fight against Dominick. He was the first guy I started watching tape on -- that was Kit's job. Then, I got into this habit, where I felt I needed to catch tape on these guys and all that does is slow you down because I'm waiting for him to do. It slows me down and makes me not fight my fight. At the end of the day, I'm going to go out there and get another bonus.
I know my mindset going into this fight is one thing: It's to kill. I'm going in there to try and hurt him. I'm going to perform my best. I'm going to look like the old Scott Jorgensen that went out there, put pressure on guys, put on exciting fights and walked away with his hand raised.