Myles Jury has embraced the Californian state of mind.
The surging 24-year-old prospect may have developed his work ethic in the blue-collar haven of the greater Detroit area, but these days the laid-back locale of San Diego is where he's taking his mixed martial arts game to the next level. And much like Jury's performances inside the cage, the fit has been nothing short of perfect.
The undefeated lightweight has found a home sharpening his craft at Alliance MMA. Alongside bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and current No. 1 light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson, "Fury" is putting in the work to keep his skills in constant evolution. Thus far, that particular investment has been paying off in spades.
Since his time on The Ultimate Fighter (he actually participated in both the 13th and 15th seasons), Jury has been lights-out under the UFC banner. He's picked up victories in all three of his showings inside the Octagon, which have included a dominant, lopsided decision over Michael Johnson at UFC 155 last December and a starching knockout over Ramsey Nijem at UFC on Fox 7 back in April.
"Anyone who has been following my career knows I've been working hard since I was a kid," Jury told Bleacher Report. "Ramsey [Nijem] was on a three-fight winning streak, and it's awesome to stop somebody with momentum. It just proves I'm getting better, deserve to be in the UFC and deserve to be facing top competition.
"I pride myself on being well rounded. The couple of opponents I've had before, I had to showcase a lot of my grappling, wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Ramsey was the perfect fight for me to showcase my striking. Getting a big knockout like that was awesome."
To date, each of his three victories in the UFC have come against TUF alumni, and he will be looking to add another notch in that particular category when he squares off with Season 16 finalist Mike Ricci at UFC 165.
The matchup will feature a collision of two highly touted prospects looking to make the next step, and while that scenario creates a unique sense of pressure, any signs of expectation weighing on Jury are nonexistent.
He is, as they say, "California cool" heading into Toronto and ready to make a statement against the Tristar fighter.
"I feel like this fight is just another opportunity to test my skill against the best fighters in the world," Jury said. "That is why I'm here. Mike Ricci is tough, he's a good fighter and I believe a win over him keeps propelling me up that 155-pound ladder in the UFC.
"Mike Ricci is a generalist where he's good at everything, but I feel like I'm better all around. I think I put things together a lot better, and that is where I feel I'm going to beat him. I think I'm a better striker, wrestler and my ground game is better. I think I can beat him anywhere. Fans can expect to see me put all my chips in, rolling the dice and going for it."
When Jury and Ricci square off inside the Octagon in Toronto, it will be a moment for which the California transplant has been waiting. While facing the Firas Zahabi-trained fighter has its appeal, the "dream come true" moment for Jury will come with being able to fight in Canada.
Growing up just outside of "The Motor City" meant the "Great White North" was just a short trip away. With Windsor being Detroit's sister city, Jury and his family spent a good amount of time across the border, and he's elated to finally get the opportunity to showcase his skills for the Canadian fans.
He's well aware Ricci will be the fan favorite, but Jury intends to turn some heads on Saturday night at UFC 165.
"I feel honored to be fighting there," Jury said. "I grew up in the Detroit area and Windsor was only like a 10-minute route for me. I have a lot of family there and I've been familiar with Canada since I was a kid. I've been going over for years and I've been doing seminars there as well.
"The fans are very respectful and really class over there. I'm excited to fight in Canada, and I know Ricci is going to have the majority of the fans. I'm expecting to hear some boos, but it's cool. It gives me the underdog role and lets me go out there have fun and do my job."
While the bout with Ricci will only be his fourth official showing under the UFC banner, Jury has absolutely made the most of his previous opportunities. The talent he's displayed inside the cage has earned him the well-deserved "prospect" label which guarantees that every fight going forward will take place under the watchful eye of MMA critics, and his ability to continue his success will dictate the amount of expectation that falls on his shoulders.
That being said, Jury refuses to change his approach to be something he's not. The Michigan native is working hard to ensure he enjoys the ride and fruits of his hard work, making an honest effort to keep things honest with himself in the process.
"I feel like there are a lot of fighters out there right now who are trying too hard to make something out of nothing," Jury said. "For me, I'm just being real. I pride myself on keeping it real, just being myself and not changing to what people think. I enjoy my life and the things that come along with it."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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