Injuries create opportunity for bantamweight contender
Scott Jorgensen is getting his wish. Well, one of them, at least.
When the former bantamweight title challenger stands across the Octagon from Jeff Curran on Saturday night at UFC 137, he’ll be doing so as the first fight on the main card of the event. It’s been a circuitous journey into the final five fights for the 29-year-old, but now that he’s there, don’t expect him to give up the spot very easily in the future.
“That’s the biggest insult for me being in the UFC is that I can’t get put on the goddamn main card,” Jorgensen said when we spoke prior to the news of his bout with Curran being bumped onto the pay-per-view portion of Saturday night’s event.
“I think I’m one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. I’ve put on some great fights in the past, I’ve never laid-and-prayed or fought safe. C’mon man — George Roop and Hatsu Hioki? I’ll put on a better fight than them. Like those guys on the TUF 13 Finale — I delivered when I fought on (that card), and I’ll deliver this time.”
His personal frustrations aside, Jorgensen sees change on the horizon.
The lighter weight classes have stolen the show in recent months. Coupled with some less-than-stellar outings in the heavyweight ranks, and the emergence of the featherweights and bantamweights on TUF this year, it looks like a changing of the guard could be in the offing.
“I think in time, we will be the marquee match-ups; get those big, sluggish heavyweights out of the way. It’s good to see; I haven’t watched too much of TUF, but I think it’s going to help expand the division, and it’s definitely going to make a goddamn better case for me to be on a main card.
“I think TUF 14 is going to help, but I think a lot of it is going to be trying to get the UFC fans introduced to the lighter weight divisions, but I don’t think it’s going to take long. The thing is that people want to see dynamic fights. They do want to see knockouts, but I tell you what — watch me, I’ll put someone to sleep.”
Jorgensen did just that last time out, finishing Ken Stone four minutes and ten seconds into the opening round of their fight in June.
“When’s the last time you saw a heavyweight do that from both knees in someone’s guard?” Jorgensen inquired about his finish. “That stuff comes with from the lighter weights. We’re more dynamic, we are better looking, we’re faster, we are in better shape. To me it’s just `Give us the time, we’ll take over the airwaves,’ and it’s going to be fun.
“It’s going to be like Pacquiao and Mayweather. Nobody wants to see the Klitschkos. Everybody wants to see Mayweather get after it because he can go out there for 12 rounds. We can get after it for five rounds, at a high pace. Look at the DJ-Dominick fight or Urijah’s fight with Dominick? We go out there and put on exciting fights for five rounds, never slowing down.”
After putting together an impressive five-fight winning streak from October 2009 and August 2010, Jorgensen earned the chance to challenge Dominick Cruz for the WEC bantamweight title at WEC 53, the final event in the company’s history.
Things didn’t go as planned, causing the Idaho native to slip a few spots in the bantamweight rankings, and turning the need to start another impressive winning streak into his prime objective.
“My performance against Dominick was not a performance that I’m proud of,” admitted Jorgensen. “Not because I got beat — I can accept loss and being bested on a given night — but I didn’t go out there and fight like I fight, compete like I compete.
“It didn’t make a great case for an immediate rematch, and that’s on me. That has nothing to do with matchmakers. I knew as soon as that fight was over that that performance does not bode well for me to request a rematch any time soon. So go back, get a couple wins, and I’ll be back in it, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
“I got rid of Ken Stone as quick as possible, and I’m going to be trying to do the same thing with Jeff Curran, and see where it leaves me. In my mind, the winner of the Brian Bowles–Urijah Faber fight will get the next title shot — and rightfully so. DJ (Demetrious Johnson) was a good choice; he’d been on a tear and beat some good guys — Kid Yamamoto, Miguel (Torres) — and so I don’t feel like I got shuffled to the bottom. I just feel like I’ve got to get my feet back under me and get running again.”
The hard thing about getting up and running again is that you need opportunities, something that haven’t been plentiful for Jorgensen yet this year. He fought four times in both 2009 and 2010, but has just one appearance so far in 2011.
“It’s hard to think that we’re getting close to the end of 2011 and I’ve fought twice. It is what it is, though. All good things comes with a little bit of — nothing will be as perfect as you’d like in life. I’d like to fight more, but it doesn’t happen, so I deal with it. I make the most of the opportunities when I get them.
“I’ll get this fight, hopefully get out of there completely healthy, and maybe get another fight by the end of the year; that’s my goal. I’m going to fight this fight, stand across that cage from Sean Shelby, and say, `Hey, let’s do this again next month,” just like I did in the WEC.”
With Cruz’s dominance and the lack of depth at the top end of the division, a fighter can climb into contention quicker in the bantamweight ranks than they can in most divisions, and that’s the journey Jorgensen aims to continue Saturday night in Las Vegas.
More than anything, he’s just happy to be getting back into the Octagon again.
“I don’t care who it is; I just want to fight. We’ve done interviews before and nothing has ever changed. I got in this sport to spend time in that cage. I love competition and I love the one-on-one battles, and this is a dream come true to get paid to do what I do, and do this — speak with media and fans, do autograph signings — but I would do it all for free if you let me crawl in that cage regularly.
“It feels good to get back into training camp, and to know that I’m getting back into that cage to beat the hell out of somebody.”
If he does, in fact, beat the hell out of Curran on Saturday night, don’t expect him to go back to competing on the preliminary card without putting up a serious fight.