As expected of the year’s biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) card, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is sticking to known quantities for UFC 229 this Saturday (Oct. 6, 2018), presenting just one debuting fighter among the 24 combatants set to appear. While we fall over ourselves discussing Khabib vs. Conor, let’s take a moment to look at the one UFC newbie who’s getting a shot on the big stage: 23-year-old knockout artist Jalin Turner.
Name: Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner
Weight Class: Welterweight
Record: 7-3 (6 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Max Mustaki
The towering Turner went 5-2 as an amateur before debuting in 2016, losing three of his first seven bouts before a two-fight streak earned him a spot on Dana White’s “Contender Series” in July. There, he absolutely mauled Max Mustaki, dropping him several times in the first round until a foot injury forced the latter to retire.
This will be his Welterweight debut after a career at 155 pounds.
Looking at Turner, you’d be amazed that he actually weighed in at 154.5 pounds for his last fight. He’s 6’3” and solidly built, so I can’t imagine him having any issues adapting to his new weight class. Unlike fellow huge dude James Vick, however, Turner isn’t content to potshot at range — all of his wins have come by first-round stoppage for a reason. He’s a switch-hitting power puncher with a lethal cross, good combinations and a willingness to work the body that you just don’t see out of taller men.
I’d mention his grappling here, but there wasn’t much of that to see against Mustaki, and I’ve yet to find videos of any of his recent fights. I did watch a highlight wherein he used his gangly legs to take someone’s back while defending a takedown, though, so he clearly has some surprises in store.
While he’s generally adept at staying outside his opponent’s reach, however, Turner can get reckless with his distance control when he’s on the attack. He doesn’t move his head all that well, especially when he drops his hands to work the body, and got tagged by some solid punches from Mustaki when the latter started swinging for the fences. He showed he can absorb good shots from Lightweights, but there are heaps of terrifying sluggers waiting at 170 pounds.
Opponent: I’m honestly not sure what UFC is trying to accomplish here. Turner has oodles of potential and is a blast to watch, which makes it perplexing that he’s fighting Vicente Luque in his promotional and divisional debut. Luque is a phenomenal, well-rounded young talent who has laid waste to almost everyone unfortunate enough to share the Octagon with him. Perhaps this is some sort of hazing ritual I’m unfamiliar with, but whatever the case, we’re going to learn a lot about Turner’s chin.
Tape: Turner’s “Contender Series” bout is on Fight Pass.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 229 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.