For light-heavyweight Dustin Jacoby, earning a UFC contract with a win over Ty Flores at Dana White’s Contender Series 2020 this past August, it was the culmination of years of hard work to return to the promotion following his release from the company in 2012.
While it may have taken a moment to sink in that he’d be returning to the UFC, following the fight itself, Jacoby knew he had put on a great performance against Flores and a contract offer was more than possible.
“It was a hard-earned win over a tough guy (in Flores),” Jacoby told MMAWeekly.com. “I felt like I completely dominated the fight from start to finish and proved that my takedown defense was right where it needs to be.
“I hadn’t thought about (being back in the UFC) too much until I was at the post-fight media (event) and I was on the stage and talking to all the media outlets. That’s when it kind of set in. I feel like all those experiences (the last several years) have brought me to where I am today and molded me into the fight that I am. I know I’m more than ready to make this second run in the UFC a good one.”
Though his turnaround for his UFC return was relatively quick, Jacoby does feel like he’s made enough progress in his game to be an improved fighter over the one he was when he won his contract.
“We always say one percent better every day,” said Jacoby. “Obviously I’m not going to be a completely different fighter in a couple months, but I am a better fighter than I was when I last stepped in there. That’s just through hard work. Every day, showing up and putting in the work, and doing what you’ve got to do to get better.”
On Saturday in Las Vegas, Jacoby (12-5) returns to the UFC for the first time in eight years when he takes on Justin Ledet (9-3) in a preliminary light heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Silva.
“I think Justin is a great fighter,” Jacoby said. “I think he’s very well-rounded, good everywhere, and is a good boxer, but if you watch his fights he definitely goes for takedowns and tries to get some work done on the ground. So I’ve got to be ready everywhere.
“He’s 0-3 in his last three fights, so it’s possible he’ll be fighting for his job, so I expect him to come out hard, come out fast, and be the best Justin Ledet that I will be facing. I see myself just getting the better of him in the stand-up game, defending his takedowns, and ultimately winning the fight. One way or another I plan on getting my hand raised.”
Now that he’s back in the UFC, Jacoby has a plan for the path he wants to take and where he will end up.
“I show up and work, and whoever they give me is who I’ll go for,” said Jacoby. “I might have a couple names I might toss out there. In today’s game you have to be strategic about that as well. I do have a couple of names in mind, but I am focused on Justin.
“Whatever it takes to get to the top; if I can get a few guys closer to the top of the rankings, that maybe will get me into the Top 10 and eventually fight for that world title.”
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