At 35, Jeremy Horn is a veteran of more than 120 mixed martial arts fights. An unassuming 185 pounder, Horn looks like any office manager across America. Slightly balding with an unimpressive physique, he's been using his unassuming stature to throw opponents off for more than a decade. He's fought in more than 10 countries, fought so many times that some battles are just hazy memories. But not his first. You always remember your first.
"It was just a private guy who wanted to hold some fights," Horn told Bloody Elbow in an exclusive interview available in its entirety tomorrow on Ring Psychology. "He rented a warehouse, put some mats on the floor and we fought. There were like 20 people watching. That's all there was to it. We didn't make any money. I just wanted to fight. The sport was still really, really new and they paid for our plane ticket down there. They bought us lunch. At the time we just wanted to fight and that was the only place we knew we could fight."
At just 20, Horn submitted veteran Rick Graveson with an armbar. The win, even though it went down in a warehouse, brought him to the attention of manager Monte Cox and a career in the martial arts was born. Horn has fought all comers for 14 years, locale, rule sets, and promotional companies be damned. While fighting in the UFC was special, and Horn even fought for a world championship twice, it's his experience in Japan that stands out when he looks back at a long career:
The Japanese crowd, and the promotions for sure - the way they treat fighters is just unbelievable. You are held in the highest regard whether you win or lose. You can be a guy with ten fights and ten losses and after your fight you're going to have as big a line to sign autographs as the guy who won the fight. Because in Japan, they appreciate that you are getting in the ring and taking a beating to entertain them. And they don't care if you win or lose...you're an entertainer, there doing your job to entertain them, and they love you...It really is nice to fight over there and feel that appreciation, no matter how your fight goes.
After the break, more from Horn on his fight this Thursday against Bryan Baker in Bellator and video of his first fight.
Being on television doesn't really matter to me, but this fight is very important to me. I've spent a large portion of my career just fighting wherever and whoever. Not to say that I didn't care about it, but I enjoyed fighting so much that I didn't really care much beyond that. With the sport's progression now, I want to make my mark and prove that I belong where I think I belong. I see this as my first opportunity to do so. Bryan Baker is a very tough guy, Bellator is a very reputable organization, and I can go in there and put my mark down and let people know I am still here and I'm not going anywhere.
Look for the complete interview with Horn tomorrow covering everything from his fight with Frank Shamrock to the legendary temper of RINGS founder Akira Maeda. Join us at Bloodyelbow.com for Bellator 30 - Thursday, Sept. 23rd, live on Fox Sports Net at 8:00 PM EST