UFC London: In the gym with Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

FanSided MMA goes inside the gym with UFC London’s Jordan Leavitt ahead of his bout with Paddy Pimblett.

Las Vegas, NV — The parking lot outside of Syndicate MMA is crowded even 30 minutes before pro practice is set to begin. Fighters and high-level amateurs circle the building looking for a prime spot, eager to not arrive late.

But UFC lightweight Jordan Leavitt is already there.

Leavitt is preparing to face arguably the biggest name in his blooming career – Paddy Pimblett. But for the fighter known for his post-fight celebration antics (much like his opponent), it’s just another day in the Octagon.

“I try to train the same for every fight. Focused on me not focused on the opponent,” Leavitt told FanSided. “For this camp, like for 10 weeks, I was training with Arman Tsarukyan he was my main sparring partner. So six rounds a week for 10 weeks, got plenty of rounds with Arman and he is much better than Paddy and he is a much better wrestler, better grappler, better striker. So things are prepared.”

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

When class is in full swing there are close to 30 fighters lining the sweat-soaked mats. Along with Leavitt, there are other UFC fighters honing their skills and staying ready like Daniel Rodriguez and Merab Dvalishvili.

Leavitt is ushered to a makeshift Octagon, off to the side of the large mat where sparring is happening. He’s the next on the docket for a fight so opponents are brought to him with the knowledge that Leavitt’s to be the star today.

I asked him what he worked on while I was there and he says without hesitation, “Pressure, pressure, pressure. Like pressure makes diamonds and I just think especially for this fight with this opponent, I think I really need to push the pace and I think I have to really emulate that in my training, so I’m just trying to keep the pressure really high volumes that way if I have to slow it down the fight I’ll definitely not get tired.”

While he’s sparring, I’m shooting.

I’m eager to catch Leavitt in something cool, something special that the fans don’t get to see easily. But he always had a smile, unwilling to let me capture a moment of exhaustion, though I’m sure that’s what he felt.

Jordan Leavitt on fighting Paddy Pimblett at UFC London: ‘I think I’m gonna surprise a lot of people’

After the session, we sit in the bleachers meant for onlookers but are really just lined with gym bags, water bottles, and discarded training gear.

We talk about Paddy because, of course, that’s the man in front of him. And he details the way the fight unfolded.

“I was surprised, because at first, they were kind of like teasing, like, do you want to fight in July?” he said laughing. “I said, No. Do you want to fight in London? And I’m like, no, not at all. I hate traveling, and they were like it’s Paddy, and I was like, well, we could fight in July in London, you know, for Paddy. So initially surprised. And then like, I thought about it and mulled it over in my mind and I was like, I think I looked bad in my last fight and that’s why he chose this fight. Then I was thinking about it from like a business and a promotion standpoint. I was like, dang, I should look better. I shouldn’t look bad enough to get a Paddy Pimblett fight. But now me, my wife, and my family think it’s funny that I got it. I think I’m gonna surprise a lot of people.”

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

While the rest of the class headed over to hit heavy bags in another room to end the training session, Leavitt and I continued talking. There’s silence in the training room for the first time all day.

“You know, so like, for me, this is a very low risk, high reward type of fight,” he said. “Like this is the easiest fight for the most amount of attention with like, that will give me the most advantages to my career. So for me, it’s like I’d fight Paddy in a phone booth if I had to you know, it’s a big name, an upcoming star and I’m an upcoming star and you know, when two stars collide, one absorbs the other and I think it’s gonna be me.”

Not many fighters will reveal their game plan before a fight for obvious reasons, so when I asked Leavitt about it, I wasn’t surprised he didn’t give me one.

I wasn’t prepared for this answer though.

“I don’t do game plans. Game plans give me anxiety,” he said. “I feel like when you’re focusing on specific things, you kind of will have tunnel vision. So I’ll do some reactive mitt work where my pad man will throw things that Paddy would throw. Besides that, I don’t really do a specific game plan because I definitely am a fighter that fights on instinct. And I just need to go out there and kind of get a feel for it.”

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt photographed by Amy Kaplan/FanSided

Despite having no game plan, Leavitt does see a path to victory over Pimblett, who has yet to lose inside the UFC Octagon.

“I think he’s on his back foot a lot and I think in the third round, we’re gonna finish him,” he said. “I really think my pressure is going to kind of show that. I think I’m a little bit braver than him out there. I think you’re gonna see the coward come out.”

My final question for Leavitt is if he has a message for his opponent ahead of their meeting on July 23. And it’s simple.

“Good luck.”

Published at Mon, 11 Jul 2022 21:41:11 +0000

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