In the world of mixed martial arts, many fighters become consumed with the busy lifestyle that comes along with the sport. They become so attached to the sport that they rarely get time away from their everyday training.
Not UFC welterweight, Jake Hecht.
Instead, Hecht is rarely seen as he thoroughly enjoys traveling the world, checking off bucket-list goals, one country at a time. While fighting certainly comes first for the 28-year-old Missouri native, traveling comes in at a close second.
Hecht recently sat down with Bleacher Report to discuss his love for traveling and much more.
Garrett Derr: Jake, I understand you began boxing when you were in your teens. What sparked this interest and why did you eventually choose MMA over boxing?
Jake Hecht: What sparked my interest in the combat sports in general was my older brother. I guess older brothers are supposed to pick on their young brothers, but mine took it to a whole new level. He broke my collarbone, broke my rib, and knocked my teeth out.
It got to the point where I had to come back with something to defend myself. So, I started wrestling, but that only lasted three months at a time. I started taking up boxing and started defending myself. I won the golden gloves award and was pretty good at it.
I chose MMA over boxing because I had the wrestling background and I could blend the two pretty easily. When I had a boxing match, all I wanted to do was put the guy on his back. That's why I chose to chase after MMA.
GD: If you come from a background in boxing, what's your opinion on the MMA vs. boxing duel? Will MMA be the death to boxing? And, if so, why?
JH: I don't even think it's a competition to be honest. I understand boxing has been around for so long, and it's old money. The sport has such a history, I just don't understand how it's even a competition though. I watched the Mayweather fight the other night, and I could get up, and get a glass of water, and miss absolutely nothing.
If you get up and leave an MMA fight, you miss half the fight and tons of entertainment. MMA is much more entertaining and at a much faster pace. I'm not saying it will be a death to boxing, but I think our society is moving towards a faster pace where people want more entertainment. This is what MMA gives you over boxing.
GD: The last time I talked with you, you mentioned that you'd like to fight in every continent, minus Antarctica of course. So, what has it meant to you to have the opportunity to fight where most guys have never even been before?
JH: It's amazing, it really is. My second passion besides fighting is traveling. So, for me to be able to go somewhere like the places I've been is just awesome. After my fight in Australia, I got to spent 10 days out there. We went mountain climbing, cliff-diving, and a ton of other things. It was awesome. I can't wait to continue traveling and do as much as I can possibly do.
GD: I know you've been to Jordan, England, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and of course the US. Outside of fighting, have you been anywhere else?
JH: This past year my girlfriend and I went to Spain and ran with the bulls. That was pretty crazy. I also went to a jiu-jitsu camp in Portugal. Most people will ask why Portugal, but it was one of the sickest camps I've ever been to. The gym was on the beach. You step out of the back door and you are literally on the sand. The set up was amazing.
Australia has been my favorite trip so far. The crazy stuff we were able to do. I said I wanted to go cliff-diving and my buddy knew of a place. I said I wanted to go deep sea fishing and catch a marlin, my buddy knew a place. It was so crazy and we has such a good time.
GD: So, the last time we talked you were getting ready to take on TJ Waldburger and things didn't go as expected. You got caught like a lot of guys do, so where do you think you really went wrong in that fight?
JH: TJ is a slick guy and I think we underestimated his submission skills and scrambles. I hope everyone knows now that he is one of the best in the business in turning the scramble into a submission. I would have went for the winner again, because that's in my mind every time I take the Octagon.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the move I went for will work. But, I got caught and I wouldn't have changed anything. I've been trained to go for the finish. He was the better man that night. But, I came out of that fight flat. From the first second of the fight, I need to set my pace and keep that pace for 15 minutes.
GD: You'll now meet Sean Pierson in your upcoming bout at UFC on FX 3. What have you done differently this time around training for a well-rounded opponent like Sean?
JH: I felt like my last game plan was perfect. I never felt better going into a fight. I heard that I had another opponent right away, so I was able to continue this camp into the next one. We were able to spread this camp out for a while. I've known about this fight for 14 weeks now. I need to keep working on my standup, my shots, and my ground game. I don't think this fight is any different in preparation.
He is an older guy, so let's be honest, I think he is at the twilight years of his career. If I come out, push the pace, and get in his face, I think he's going to break. I think he's going to break quickly. So, that's the plan, to get in his face, put my hands on him, and look for damage. That's what we're going to do.
GD: Out of curiosity, how bad do you believe referring and the judging has been in MMA? Recently you have Mario Yamasaki and the strikes to the back of the head in the Erick Silva bout, Kim Winslow stopping John Albert's fight, and of course you have Steve Mazzagatti. What's your opinion?
JH: I mean, let's be honest, it's a hard job. You got to give the guys credit for what they do. But, a lot of times they mess up, and make outrageous calls that you can't believe. It's human error and they are going to make mistakes. But, on the other hand, there have been some pretty retarded calls and just things that shouldn't happen.
I don't know how much more training they can get or how much more tape they can watch. The only solution I could think of, is having a set range of things that score higher on a judge's score cards. For example, damage, if a guy is cut or damaged, that's weighed more in the scorecards. Just having a set criteria will help. You have judges who favor the ground, judges who favor the standup, and so on.
GD: In your opinion, who is the best referee in the sport?
JH: Herb Dean, without a doubt.
GD: Who is the worst referee?
JH: I mean the popular vote to go with is Mazzagatti, because he has a history of mistakes.
GD: Thanks for the time Jake. I wish you the best of luck in Florida.
Garrett Derr is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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