By his own admission, featherweight Jake Heffernan went into his March bout with Derek Brenon at Paramount MMA not as physically prepared as he could have been.
Early in the bout, Heffernan’s conditioning became an issue, forcing him to take the fight away from where he would have wanted it to be to where it had to be in order for him to pick up the win.
“We did know that the cardio was going to be an issue,” Heffernan told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m not going to lie, once I threw the second strike of the fight I knew that Jiu-Jitsu was going to win the fight.
“It was definitely an awakening in the step up in competition and the realization of how hard the fights can get. After winning it put me in such a confident spot mentally. I’m ready to step up to the next level.”
Though his ground game to pick up the win over Brenon, it’s his stand-up game that Heffernan has allotted the maximum amount of time he can towards developing it.
“This last year I’ve been really focusing on my striking,” said Heffernan. “Granted, in my fight with Brenan, I lost my cardio, so I couldn’t really strike with him, so I used my ground game to win that fight.
“I’m a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve been doing it for 10 years. So there’s never a point where I feel like I need to work on my Jiu-Jitsu as much as my striking, clinch, and wrestling.”
Heffernan (6-0) faces Peter Stanonik (6-3) in a 145-pound co-main event clash of styles at LFA 43 on Friday in Beaumont, Texas.
“Peter is a great striker, but when you’re going into an MMA fight with one tool, you’re holding yourself back,” Heffernan said. “This guy as much as his striking is good, he has zero Jiu-Jitsu.
“Once I get my hands on him, I’m not going to let go. I plan to hit him a few times, get him against the cage, take him down and choke him. I’m not going to give him an inch.”
In the position of co-main eventing on national television, Heffernan is going to do all he can to make the most of the situation and use it to make his case to move up to the next level in MMA.
“I’m one of those guys who see opportunities, and I don’t want to welsh them,” said Heffernan. “I’m making the right steps and moves to get myself to the big show. This TV is the next step before I get bigger fights and having the UFC notice me more.”