Today, top kickboxing organization Glory presents Glory 20, featuring a stacked card from Dubai to air on Spike this evening, plus the Glory Superfight Series to air in a live stream this morning. Featured on that Superfight Series is Bellator and Glory fighter Dustin Jacoby. Jacoby takes on the accomplished veteran Mourad Bouzidi.
Jacoby has a fascinating kickboxing career, as he has fought his entire professional kickboxing career under the bright lights of Glory. I caught up with Jacoby as he trained in Dubai to hear his thoughts on Bouzidi, his trial by fire in Glory, and his response to the negative comments many fans send his way. Here's what he had to say:
On getting the call to replace Pat Barry against Mourad Bouzidi
About 3-4 weeks ago Glory got a hold of me and said are you available and I said of course I'm always training. They asked if I wanted to fight on the Glory 20 Dubai card and I said absolutely no questions asked and it was done. My last fight was an MMA fight back in January. I took one week off then was right back in the gym helping my training partners prepare for their fights... I was getting prepared, helping those guys, keeping my strength and conditioning up. I got the call and had 3 and a half weeks to focus on just kickboxing, no MMA. So I'm coming in here ready and in good shape. I never got out of shape, it's not like I was at home sitting on the couch. I was at the gym just waiting for the next opportunity to come knocking, so when it came I was ready.
On the experience gap between him and Bouzidi:
Bouzidi's experience is not a concern for me one bit. My very first Glory fight was in that Road to Glory tournament against Randy Blake who was 27-1 at the time and was coming in off a decision loss to Cro Cop. I fought him, then I fought in the finals against Brian Collette who was 19-0. Then I fought Michael Duut who was 37-3. Then Danyo Ilunga who was 52-4. So that's pretty much been the story of my Glory career. I walked into the tournament, I won it, I didn't realize what I had accomplished and then I got thrown to the wolves. I've always had that mentality of throw me to the wolves and I'll lead the pack.
In Glory, I had to learn quick. Fight or Flight, you know? I had to step up and rise to that level, and I'm grateful for that. I'd rather face these guys that have all this experience than face guys I'm just walking through. I'm always someone who likes a challenge, and that makes me excited for this Bouzidi fight.
On his growth and evolution as a kickboxer:
Going to Holland to train with the Hemmers Gym really opened my eyes and helped my career tremendously. It helped my MMA standup and my overall kickboxing game. You watch my first Glory fights, I was your typical MMA fighter. I left my hands down because in MMA you can get away with leaving your hands down. In kickboxing you can't leave your hands down for one second because these guys are absolute savages and you leave your hands down you're wide open. From my first Glory fight to where I am now I've improved tremendously. I've had my ups at the beginning and my downs lately, but I don't get discouraged because I know that I'm facing the best in the world and I'm competing against them. I lost a split decision to Danyo Ilunga who was the #1 in the world at the time so that's more encouraging than discouraging to me.
On his controversial decision losses to Makoto Uehara and Mike Lemaire:
The Lemaire fight was a terrible decision. It was tough to get up and keep going after that. But that's what I do, I'm an optimist so I don't get discouraged and I keep fighting.
My buddy Chris Camozzi always says he hates the "don't leave it in the hands of the judges" saying because then why do we even have judges? Why not just fight until one person loses? That's the biggest problem in the sport of MMA and kickboxing because the judges interfere and it's our livelihood, it's our careers.
I'm in such a limbo between Middleweight and Light Heavyweight because I've had success at both. When I first started competing professionally in MMA I looked at the Light Heavyweights there and thought "man those are some big guys, I need to move down to Middleweight!" So I did and I had some success, but when I entered the Road to Glory tournament that was at Light Heavyweight, so I didn't have to cut any weight. I generally walk around anywhere from 205-210 pounds so I feel really good at Light Heavyweight. Part of me wants to continue at Middleweight, part of me wants to stay at Light Heavyweight, so we'll see how this fight goes. I know at Light Heavyweight I don't have to cut any weight so I can come in there relaxed. When you're traveling to a country like Dubai cutting can be a real challenge, so having this at Light Heavyweight I can come in more comfortable.
When I went to Holland and trained, I showed them I could move down in weight. A couple of the guys I trained with including Filip Verlinden recently moved down because of what I showed them. But kickboxers usually don't worry about cutting weight. And I wish more fighters would not worry about it in MMA. I wish everyone would cut maybe 4, 5, 6 pounds and that would be it. But instead you get guys cutting 20 pounds, guys walking around at 230 pounds and fighting at Middleweight. Its pretty unhealthy. I would be a fan of same day weigh ins where you weigh in the night before then weigh in the next day and can only gain back a certain percentage. I would support that. Or if they just made a 195 pound weight class - that would be great for me!
On negative comments from fans online:
I don't go searching for what people are saying about me online. Because I don't know who's behind that, either good or bad. I don't know who's saying what so if I come across it fine, but it's all just whatever for me. It's just people's opinions, it doesn't bother me at all. I don't know who those people are I don't know anything about them. What I know is that Glory believes in me. It's not like they're calling anybody else to fight Bouzidi, they're calling me. Because they know it's going to be a good fight and that I'm going to show up to fight. At the end of the day I can't focus on those guys, I just focus on myself, my coaches, my team, and focus on the positives.
On his future:
I plan on doing both kickboxing and MMA for at least a few more years. Whenever the opportunity arrises, I'm ready. I enjoy competing, I enjoy MMA and kickboxing, so as long as Glory and Bellator will have me, I'll continue fighting.
See Dustin Jacoby in action today on the Glory Superfight Series for Glory 20. Live stream is available right here.