There's something to be said for a fighter who is always in the gym and always at the ready should he get the call to fill in on short notice. Dustin Jacoby has made it somewhat of a habit in his near five-year career in kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA).
The Colorado-based fighter's latest call to duty has him filling in for the injured Pat Barry on the GLORY 20 card against Mourad Bouzidi in Dubai. The light heavyweight battle will take place on April 3, 2015 as part of the GLORY "Superfight Series."
This is nothing new for Jacoby, 26, who most recently fought Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal at Bellator 123 on two week's notice. He lost that fight, but the last time he received a last-minute call from GLORY, he won a one-night tournament to earn his first GLORY contract and $20,000 in prize money. Jacoby got the call just 48 hours in advance, drove from Arenzville, Illinois, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and knocked out Randy Blake, Roy Boughton, and Brian Collette to win the U.S. "Road to GLORY" tournament.
"It's been great that I get these last-minute calls," Jacoby recently told MMAmania.com during his car ride to the Factory X gym for a weekly sparring session. "In the back of my mind, I kind of pick cards that I think I'm going to be on, or I want to be on, and I put it in my head that I'm going to be on that card. I'm psyched. When I saw the card I was thinking, 'that would be so sweet to fight there.'"
It's not just the luck of getting a phone call to fight, however, as Jacoby puts in the work year round so that he is always prepared to say "yes" whenever he receives an invitation.
"It is also the benefit of training at a top-quality gym and being able to train every single day and keeping my ass in the gym, and helping my teammates get ready."
Jacoby was originally told he would be on the Dubai card a few months ago and he was thrilled, and it would be a present, because the card takes place a day prior to his birthday. After checking back with the promotion when a couple of weeks had passed to find out the details, he was informed that he would no longer be at the event.
"I was really bummed, but something was telling me that I really wanted to be on that card and to stay ready and something will come up," he said. "Sure enough, a couple weeks later, I get a text from one of the GLORY reps asking me if I was training and ready to fight. I said 'of course, I'm always training. What's up?' Then they said Bouzidi at GLORY 20 in Dubai. I said 'you got to be kidding me. I had a feeling I was going to be on that card.' So, of course, I accepted right away."
Combat sports is filled with fighters who need ample time to cut weight and prepare and a short-notice fight wouldn't work to their benefit. Because of his work ethic and willingness to constantly be in the gym and be ready to for a short-notice call, Jacoby is reliable and has created plenty of opportunities and built a very solid reputation for himself.
"The way I look at it, I do this is as a profession," said Jacoby, who is now 4-5 in GLORY. "This is my career and part of an income. That's why I train. That's why I stay ready for opportunities that come up. I know I'm at that level that when somebody goes down, I'm at a top-level like that, that they know I'm a guy that they can call and I'm always going to be ready. What would I be doing on April 3rd anyway? I'd be going to the gym and I'd be sparring. We do it every Friday night."
Currently on a three-fight losing streak, his last victory came over Brian Collette at GLORY 9 back in June 2013. Jacoby has also lost two heartbreaking decisions: a split to Makato Uehara at GLORY 13 and a controversial unanimous decision to Mike Lemaire at GLORY 17, in a fight many thought he won. At GLORY 14, he suffered a knockout loss to the night's tournament winner, Alex Pereira.
The losses have been tough on him, and he doesn't hide that fact.
"Of course it bugs me and it is in the back of my head," he said. "When I'm asked about my record and I have to tell people I'm 4-5, it's tough to do. Especially when you are a guy like me. I love to compete and I love to win. When I look at my GLORY record, there are a couple of decisions in there that didn't go my way that I absolutely, 100 percent thought that I won.
"In my mind I know I am much better than my 4-5 record and yeah, I am, I'm chomping at the bit to get in there and get a win, get a big win. I want to show people that I'm not here to just get beat up, I'm here to win. And I go into every fight with the mindset that I'm going to win. When you are fighting at a top level like this, you have to bring your 'A' game every time."
Bouzidi has over 100 fights under his belt and this GLORY 20 match up will only be Jacoby's tenth career kickboxing bout.
So, once again the odds won't be stacked in his favor.
"I've had a tenth of the professional kickboxing fights he's had, but I don't focus on that," he explained. "I just want to focus on myself and getting in there and getting the job done."
The No. 13-ranked GLORY middleweight will be fighting at light heavyweight for the first time since the GLORY 9 eight-man tournament. In that tournament, he defeated Brian Collette in the quarterfinal round before losing by decision to Danyo Illunga in the semifinals. Had he won that fight, he would have faced Bouzidi back then.
"Ever since that tournament, I've kept an eye on him and I've know there was always a chance I could fight him," Jacoby said. "And here we are, April 3rd we are squaring off."
The Factory X fighter broke down the match up against the Tunisian veteran known as the "Silent Power."
"Bouzidi is a very technical striker," Jacoby said. "I think he is very open for combos. I have to put the pressure on him and find my openings. I can't sit back and play the game with him. He has the experience. He is very technical and he is a great fighter. I like the way we match up. It's going to be one of those dog fights where I come after him and I'm going to have to create my angles and I'm going to have to make things happen."
That is something he continues to do for himself, and now he'll get to fight in an amazing city. The "Superfight Series" will be televised on CBS Sports on April 10, 2015, something Jacoby wasn't aware of. He called it "extra motivation to get the job done." He is very appreciative of the chances he continues to get and the destinations he travels too because of that.
"I'm very thankful to be with GLORY because I've done a lot of traveling with them and I've seen a lot of the world that I wouldn't have had a chance to see otherwise. So, it's a great opportunity," he said. "So when I get a call and an opportunity to go compete and travel the world and showcase my skills, I'm all over it. Like I said, it's what I would be doing anyway on a Friday night."