Bucking the Naysayers, Bubba Jenkins Gunning for Bellator Title in 2016

When looking back on 2015, Bellator featherweight Bubba “Highlight Kid” Jenkins felt he had a strong year in terms of development.

In particular, Jenkins feels he learned a lot from his first bout of 2015, a first-round submission loss to Georgi Karakhanyan in January.

“Last year was a year of preparation to prepare me for what I’m going to go through this year,” Jenkins told MMAWeekly.com. “It started off rough with the loss to Georgi. My lack of experience and not knowing to stick to a game plan, fighting emotionally, were things I needed to work on after that fight.”

Jenkins was able to rebound off the loss to Karakhanyan and won two straight to close out the year. It was in his most recent victory against Jordan Parsons in November he feels he learned the most from.

“I think in my last fight you started to see my comfort level kick in,” said Jenkins. “I was calm, maybe too calm, because when I got the head kick I didn’t go in to finish (Parsons) right away. But I felt calm. I felt like the fight was going my way. I was doing what I felt I needed to do to get it to go my way.

“It helped me with developing, because when you have an opportunity, you truly have to grasp it and not take it for granted.”

Jenkins (10-2) will be gunning for his third straight win when he has his first Bellator fight of the year on Friday in Thackerville, Okla., against fellow top prospect Goiti Yamauchi (19-2) in a featherweight main card bout.

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“I’ve got to hit him hard and fight with a vengeance,” said Jenkins of facing Yamauchi. “Basically, I’ve got to go out there and achieve a level of pressure that he’s not really used to.

“I’m excited about the opposition that he brings, but I believe this fight will be smooth sailing. Whether he pulls guard and wants me to beat him up on top, or whether I take him down, or whether we’re on the feet and I knock him out or I hit him harder than he hits me, I’m comfortable.”

With eight wins in Bellator heading into the March 4 bout, another victory could put Jenkins in the midst of title contention, which is exactly where he wants to be in 2016.

“I think everyone whose questioned me, asking me, talking to me can see my development as a mixed martial artist understand that I should be due or be coming around to being due to get after of the belt,” said Jenkins. “The faces they see around the belt are becoming repetitive, so some new flavor, new action and new personality are needed.”

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