by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this past Friday’s Strikeforce event in San Jose there were three champions crowned. Among them is longtime MMA veteran Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson, whose win over Ron “Machine Gun” Jhun might have just been the most impressive title victory of the evening.
Quickly into the first round of their fight, an exchange saw Jackson drop Jhun and after a quick mount, Eugene was able to secure a rear naked choke as Ron gave up his back in an effort to escape Jackson’s ground ‘n pound. Thus Eugene Jackson is now Strikeforce’s US Middleweight Champion.
Less than 24 hours after the fight, Jackson told MMAWeekly about the fight, “I felt good. I was expecting it because I know he’s scrappy, in good shape and he likes to bang and I like to bang, but I know he normally gets beat with submissions. I thought it was going to be more of a war, I just happened to land a better punch and it played into my hand.”
Even though Eugene knew Jhun had at times been susceptible to submissions, it wasn’t a specific gameplan of Jackson’s to go in and try to end the fight that way.
“No [that wasn't the gameplan], I’m not great with submissions,” admitted Eugene. “I’ve seen him escape out of some good ones and the guys that have submitted him are pretty decent submission guys. I’m probably okay with position, but I’m not a great submission guy at all. My submissions more set up my punches and him getting tired of punches…he turned into it and basically gave it to me.”
Jackson is on a tear, winning three in a row in Strikeforce, after having an up and down earlier career that saw him lose five of six at on point before taking a couple years off from competing.
As Eugene explains, he’s a much better fighter now due to his maturation and the support of his training partners and coaches.
“I think I’m not so hyped up,” explained Jackson. “Like before you always have to run, you’re a hundred miles an hour, and I think in getting older I’ve slowed down a little bit and said, ‘do it like this, take your time and do it the right way,’ it’s functioning right, right now.”
“It’s like me and Tim Lajcik being together, honestly that’s helped me a lot. Just having Bob Cook in my corner is great too; he’s a tactician in there. His demeanor is so calm that it relaxes you and he talks you through everything. He’s never nervous, even if you come back from taking a beating, he’ll talk you through it. Tim is like having a big brother right there where you know you can’t lose if you have big brother standing behind,” added Eugene.
Now that he has the Strikeforce US Title Jackson feels good to finally have gold around his waist, but he also knows that it comes with its own unique set of challenges that he’ll have to face.
“It’s a two-fold thing,” elucidated Eugene. “One thing is you have to defend it, you look ridiculous if you don’t defend it, and the other thing is, you want to defend it. It makes you want to go, ‘Okay now you’re going to come, so do you think you’re going to walk in and take it? Do you think you’re supposed to be better than I am, or that I got it on a fluke or whatever?’ It gives me a little more motivation to get busy.”
With the next Strikeforce event scheduled for April, the question was posed whether or not Jackson intends to fight before then or focus solely on defending his title in five months.
“Probably defending my title,” said Eugene of his plans. “I have my own little company, so that takes up so much of my time. Between that and training I don’t really have time to focus on anything else.”
Regardless of when he fights next, Jackson has earned his title and the opportunity to savor it. It’s an opportunity he’s thankful to the fans for, as he explains it, they are the reason he and other fighters are able to get in the cage in the first place and eventually succeed.
“More than anything I consider fans my friends,” wrapped up Eugene. “They give us the energy to want to come out; otherwise we’re just a bunch of dumb guys in a cage trying to see who’s tougher. The fans – or friends as I call them – when you come out they give you so much energy and give you something to want to be there for. So to me they’d be my biggest thanks.”