Just two years into his MMA career and featherweight prospect Damon “Leech” Jackson is on the verge of capturing his first major championship.
What has helped Jackson get to this point is a string of eight victories, all with finishes, including his most recent win over fellow up-and-comer Hunter Tucker at Legacy FC in February.
“That fight meant a lot just because I knew Hunter was one of the tougher guys out there,” said Jackson. “He’s a sneaky fighter on his feet, and on the ground I knew he had some decent grappling.
“Going into that fight there was a lot of pressure because I wanted that title shot. I knew a big win over an opponent like that would put me in position for a title shot, so it meant a lot getting that victory.”
Jackson has come a long way since his debut in September 2012, mostly because he went from being a primarily solo fighter to joining a full-fledged team.
“When I first started, I had no guidance and was pretty much doing things on my own,” he said. “I was basically taking fights as soon as I could get them and I feel like I kind of rushed into my first couple of fights.
“Since I made the moved down to Dallas and Octagon MMA, things have really turned around. I’m trying more to mix things up and do a little bit of everything.”
When Jackson (8-0) gets his 145-pound title shot on July 18 at Legacy FC 33 in Dallas, he’ll be facing not only his toughest opponent to date, but a fighter he’s looked up to for a long time in Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia (18-11-1).
“Leonard’s been in a lot of great fights and he’s fought a lot of great people, really high class opponents. So going into the fight I’m aware of what he’s done in the past,” Jackson told MMAWeekly.com.
“I see holes in his game and I see his strengths also. Going into the fight I’ve got to show what I’m capable of and open up a bit more. I’d like to do more striking than I did in my last fight and come out with a different mindset in this fight for sure.”
While he hasn’t been fighting that long, winning the Legacy featherweight title is something that’s motivated Jackson throughout much of his career.
“Before I fought in Legacy, I was calling Mick (Maynard, Legacy Promoter) and trying to get on their cards for a long, long time,” said Jackson. “He actually set me up with Octagon and after I had my Bellator debut, it was a goal that I had set to get the Legacy championship.
“Ever since then we’ve been putting together a game plan to get me to that title shot. It means a lot because I’ve had this goal for this last year and it’s finally coming true.”