by Mick Hammond
At the upcoming Sportfight 12 show on Friday, September 16th, the organization returns once again to the home of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, The Rose Garden. On the card in one of the feature bouts is the first ever Sportfight Heavyweight Championship match featuring one of Team Quest’s up and coming young fighters, Jay White.
Still relatively new to the sport of MMA, White comes from an impressive lineage of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that allowed him to segue into the sport. “I started in BJJ under Renzo Gracie and I competed in a lot of grappling tournaments like NAGA and Grappler’s Quest. I had won the Pan Ams twice, once as a blue belt and once as a purple belt, and the next logical step was MMA.”
Continuing the path of logical progression when he entered into MMA, White knew he needed a change if he was to become a more well-rounded fighter in today’s sport.
“I talked to Renzo and told him I wanted to go in a different direction,” said Jay. “I wanted to focus more on MMA and less grappling and work more on my takedowns and ground ‘n pound. Renzo is a great guy but his gym is more like a school and not a fight team.”
From there White got an invitation he couldn’t refuse from one of MMA’s living legends. “I talked to Randy (Couture) and he invited me out (to Oregon), so I went out for ten days and really enjoyed it so I decided to move here to train.”
When it comes to how training with Team Quest has improved his game, Jay emphatically stated, “It’s tremendous. It’s wonderful here, I’m not depending on my BJJ so much and my takedowns are getting better.”
White continued, “My game in general has changed. Before, coming from BJJ, I was comfortable on my back and I would stay there, I wouldn’t try to change position. My ability to get back up and use my takedowns has improved so I’m more active. My conditioning has also improved greatly.”
Originally White was slated to face off against Fabiano Scherner at Sportfight 12, but with Fabiano heading to the UFC, White will now face reigning Abu Dhabi Champion and MMA veteran Jeff Monson in his place.
“I fought Jeff before and hurt my knee in that fight,” commented White. “My game plan is pretty much the same for Jeff that it was for Fabiano. My gameplan is to stay on my feet as much as possible and try to get back up if it goes to the ground.”
When asked if he’s concerned about Monson’s accolades as one of the best grapplers in the world, White responded, “Jeff has better takedowns but Fabiano has better BJJ. I know Jeff is a good grappler but he mostly just out-points guys and doesn’t finish. I was able to take him down in our first fight so I’m prepared (to go to the ground).”
If all goes according to plan and White is successful in defeating Monson, the plan is to fight at least one more time before the year is out and possibly defend the Sportfight belt if an opportunity arises.
“After Sportfight I’m going to be fighting on November 5th at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City,” said Jay. “I’m supposed to fight Alex Roberts who is like the 4th ranked Pancrase super heavyweight. After that I will definitely defend the Sportfight title if Matt (Lindland) wants me to, it all depends on him. Next year I would love to be in the UFC and I plan to get there by mid 2006.”
Jay White is one of the next generation of Team Quest fighters that is beginning to make his mark on MMA and according to him, this Friday will see the end of one of the longest undefeated streaks currently in MMA.
“I want to thank my sponsors Ruckus Fightwear, DirectStrike.tv, and Xyience. People should definitely come out and watch the fights and get there early and watch the great prelims. You know Jeff’s undefeated since 2002 and I’m looking to end that streak and become the champion.”