In a division loaded with talent, Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen is a name to remember.
The WEC bantamweight has made a nomadic journey to the Zuffa-owned company; growing up in Alaska, wrestling in college at Boise State and cutting his teeth as a professional back home in the Alaska Fighting Championships before getting the call to join the top bantamweight class in the world.
Currently preparing for his WEC 43 fight with Noah Thomas, Jorgensen took time out of his training schedule to talk about The Smurf Turf at Boise State, the possibilities of a WEC / UFC merger and answer the always entertaining Keyboard Kimura Questionnaire.
This is the K2 Interview Series ... with Scott Jorgensen.
First things first—are you superstitious at all? I ask because every fighter who has ever done an interview with me or even said yes and then backed out has lost.
No, I’m not superstitious at all.
Now that that is out of the way, what’s the deal with the Smurf Turf at Boise State?
It’s a marketing scheme and it’s smart. They actually got grandfathered in; now all the turf has to be green like normal, what you see was actually grandfathered in, so it looks like they’ll be keeping it.
Was the football team tired of getting no attention, so they had to go out and get blue turf?
They’ve had it here for a while, I guess, long before I got here. It’s something; they’ve slowly worked their way up the ranks. When I was in college, we weren’t nearly as good as they are now.
I think it was purely to get some attention and pretty soon they started getting some tough guys and built a good team.
Well everyone knows who they are thanks to the blue turf.
Yeah, I either get one of two questions: it’s either the blue turf or “Do you guys eat a lot of French fries and potato skins?”
So how do you get from growing up in Alaska to wrestling in college in Idaho?
I actually grew up St. George, Utah. Born in Utah, raised there until I was fourteen; I lived in Utah longer than I lived anywhere else. And then because of my dad’s job we moved to Alaska in ’96.
I lived there for four years. I wrestled there in high school and I had my wrestling coach up there Lennie Zalesky, he’s the head coach now at UC-Davis, who coached me for two years up there. My senior year I had a chance to move down here to Boise to get recruited because Alaska doesn’t have huge exposure for wrestling, so my parents moved me down here to get into college.
I knew the Boise State program; I got accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy and into Nebraska on scholarships and decided to stay here in Boise. I’ve been here since 2000; I love this place. It’s a nice town to live in.
You were a three-time PAC 10 champ in college. Are there any guys you faced on the mats who have made the transition to MMA?
Nobody in my weight class that I’ve heard of outside of a guy named Matt Sanchez who wrestled at Cal State-Bakersfield. He’s the manager for Ultimate Fitness up at Urijah’s and he’s on the U.S. World Grappling Team.
He’s a really good grappler and really good submission-wise. He’s had a couple of fights; I think he’s 1-1, but Sanchez and I went back-and-forth. I think I wrestled him more than I wrestled anybody in college.
He was a three-time All-American or two-time All-American and we were 5-5 all through college. His senior year, we had to wrestle to be an All-American and he beat me by something like two points, the lowest scoring match we ever had.
He’s the only guy that I’ve seen jump in from my weight, but I’m sure there will be some more down the road.
In an interview with Fight! Magazine a while back you credited former WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber with pushing you to get into MMA.
Tell us about that relationship.
When I was wrestling in college, Urijah was like three years ahead of me. He was helping out at UC-Davis as an assistant coach. I knew him and he used to wrestle my main training partner Jesse Brock; they used to always compete against each other when Urijah was still in college.
I knew him, we had been talking and as I got closer to graduating, Urijah had started fighting and he started telling me, “You gotta fight, man. You’d be good at it and there’s money to be made.” I thought about it and by the time I was done with college I didn’t think an All-American like I wanted to; all three years I went to NCAA’s I was one round out. I think I missed out on being a three-time All-American by a total of like six points.
It was the worst feeling of my life, so I took Urijah’s word and I literally flew back from NCAA’s my senior year on a Sunday and went and started training MMA on the Monday. He told me to try it, so I tried it and I loved it.
I was always a fan of the sport; my dad and my little brother and I used to watch the early UFC and I always thought it would be fun to do. Now I love the sport and there is nothing right now that is going to take me away from it.
You lost your WEC debut to Greg Jackson product and Top 10 ranked Damacio Page, though many observers felt you did enough to win that fight.
What are your feelings about that bout and is a second chance to fight Page something you’d like down the road?
I’ll fight anybody that I’ve lost to. I’ll fight anybody period, but especially those guys I’ve lost to. I want those fights back.
That particular fight, I remember everything about it. My opponent got switched like four or five days out, so all I heard was he had heavy hands. I had never stood and traded with anyone, so I relied on my wrestling a lot in that fight and I spent a lot of time on top of him, ground and pounding. I landed some good punches on my feet.
I do remember never being hurt. I know from watching the fight and hearing the announcers, they thought he was getting through, but he was never getting through with anything clean. I remember feeling like I was in total control of that fight, even when I got taken down. I either reversed him or stood back up with no damage until the third round.
At the end of the second round I felt like I had the fight won, granted I didn’t do anything stupid, which is my own mistake and something I never would have done in wrestling, just sit back and expect the win.
My corner all came in and we’re talking it up that we had it won and be smart, so I took him back down, ground and pounded him for a minute, took his back and he rolled and I lost my position. He ended up in my guard and I thought I had it won; I remember watching that clock tick down from three and a half minutes. I watched it tick down, thinking I had it won and that was the biggest mistake of my career right now.
That’s the only fight I regret. That’s the only time I would say I would change anything in a fight and I can’t believe I did it. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, that I thought I had something won. You haven’t won until you have your hand raised and I kind of kick myself in the ass every time I think about it.
I want that rematch. I know I beat Damacio. Everyone’s so scared of his power, but you got to hit me first and on top of that, if he doesn’t, he’s got to be able to defend a takedown. The way I fought him last time, I fought him very smart, I just didn’t finish the fight, so that’s how I feel.
Before getting around to some more insightful and investigative journalism-type questions, let’s run through the Keyboard Kimura Questionnaire:
All-time? Favorite fighter? That’s hard to say. I look at a lot of guys. I’m very particular. People ask me my favorite football team and I say, “I don’t have a favorite team, I have favorite players.”
My favorite fighter has gotta be... this is tough... Wanderlei Silva. That guy is just fearless, I love it. He’ll take that fight wherever it needs to go and it doesn’t matter how tired he is, he keeps fighting.
Wanderlei, [Clay] Guida, those fighters that carry those characteristics that are in your face, non-stop, I don’t care what you do I’m still coming type attitude; that’s how I train and that’s what I believe in.
Wanderlei is by far by my favorite fighter ever.
Best fight you’ve ever seen—live or otherwise?
My fight with Banuelos. (Laughs)
Nice—d’you know what’s funny is that you’re the first person I’ve interviewed who has said their own fight. I interviewed Sam Stout a couple weeks back and I full expected him to say one of his two wars with Spencer Fisher. Why wouldn’t it be your favorite fight?
Yeah, that was my favorite fight man. I had more fun in that fight than I had in all of my others.
Honestly, just after I signed with the WEC I was supposed to replace Marcos Galvao to fight Brian Bowles in case he had problems with his Visa, and they flew me out and everything. I ended up not fighting, but we got into The Ultimate Fighter finale that weekend.
I can’t remember what season it was, but it was the [Clay] Guida—Roger Huerta fight. I was sitting pretty much ringside, like two rows back, and that was probably the most memorable fight. I was just like, “Wow.” It was pretty sweet.
Most Underrated Fighter and Most Overrated Fighter?
Most overrated? It’s tough for me to say because everyone who steps in there I have respect for. Most overrated? That’s hard to say.
Most underrated? There’s a lot of guys that I think are underrated, at every division, guys like Martin Kampmann, who, short of his lost to Daley, I think should have been in line for a title shot.
Guida’s underrated. That guy is tough. He’s lost to top guys and keeps coming back.
I look at the sport and try to stay away from who is ranked and who is not ranked. I think there are a lot of guys that are underrated and a lot of guys who get inflated more than they’re really worth.
Obviously Kimbo is overrated. I’m not talking smack or anything; the guy has got a skill set, but he needs to improve before he’s getting the pay days he’s getting. It’s tough for a guy like myself or guys on their way up who have had ten, twelve, twenty fights that are ranked and finally getting a chance to make something and be on TV, and there you have this guy who is a street fighter that goes out there and gets paid an ass-load of money and we’re sitting here wondering, “Where’s our share?”
We’ll talk about something a little later that will work in with the “where’s our share?” so I’m glad you mentioned it. And the underrated / overrated thing often gets that response.
Everyone has respect for anyone who steps in the ring, myself included. I look at overrated as the guys that are getting too much hype. Like a guy like Dan Hardy; while he’s had some success, is he really one win away from a title shot?
That’s who is getting publicity too. These guys that are getting talked up, you know, I thought Brock [Lesnar] was overrated until he went out and toasted Frank Mir.
My belief is that you’re always overrated and underrated until you fight your test and win. Every fight, that’s where you’re at. That’s how you get better and how you make your mark in this sport.
You don’t make your mark by how many magazine covers you’re on or how many interviews you do or how much you get paid. You make your mark by your quality wins. For the people that really love this sport and the people that compete in it, that’s how ... those are luxuries to me.
When it comes down to it, I do this sport because I love to compete; I wrestled for seventeen, eighteen years never making a dime and now I get paid. It’s a luxury. I just do this because I love it.
I love that. That is easily the most honest and most complete answer I’ve gotten from anyone to this point, so I really appreciate that.
Not a problem.
I’ve got a training partner that I think could be one of the top guys in the WEC, right up there, right alongside me or over in DREAM. His name is Jesse Brock.
He fought in EliteXC one time and then was scheduled to fight again right before they went bankrupt. Since then he’s just been training and picking up fights where he can. His record, he’s got some losses but he’ll fight anybody at any weight.
He’s a 135 pounder and he fought Donald Cerrone at 155 and lost. He lost to Doug Evans his very, very first fight ever; I mean he’d been training for a month and took a fight against a UFC veteran like Doug Evans and lost a decision, which a lot of people thought Jesse won.
He’s lost to some tough guys along the road, but he’s my main training partner for a reason and that’s because he’s right up there alongside the guys I’m fighting, so obviously him and another good friend of mine, Joe Warren.
He’s not as unknown, but he’s still not on the mainstream but come [Tuesday] everyone is going to know his name.
I was just going to say he’s done a pretty good job putting himself on the map already, beating Chase Beebe in his debut and then beating Kid Yamamoto...
You know him and the people that know him right now are the people that follow the sport pretty closely, but if he wins that title and brings that belt back, he’s going to blow up and be as mainstream as anyone.
That’s a pretty big fight or potentially fights [tomorrow] for him.
Yeah, I’m stoked for that.
Non-fight related, what’s your favorite movie?
Dude, I got so many. Probably Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Every single food you put in front of me, I enjoy. I love the buffet.
Best Place You’ve Ever Been?
Spring Break in college, Lake Havasu. There weren’t that many place I’ve ever wrestled, so my choices are limited, but I loved going to Lake Havasu. It was a good time.
We’re just about a week away from your fight at WEC 43 in San Antonio. How has training camp been going, where have you been training and how do you feel heading into this fight?
I feel great for this fight. I’ve been in an eleven week training camp and thank God I wrestled for seventeen years and wrestled nine months out of the year, otherwise I probably wouldn’t feel the way I do right now.
I trained some with Rani Yahya, he was nice enough to let me in even though we’re the same division. Then I came right back to Boise and finished up with all the guys in my gym, my boys here in Boise.
It was a good training camp, I feel ready. I’m anxious but I’m trying to be patient, so things are good.
You were originally slated to face American Top Team’s Rafael Rebello, but now you’re taking on former Ultimate Fighter cast member Noah Thomas.
Does the late replacement change anything in your training or do you still approach this fight the same way?
You know, I say this and I don’t know if people really believe me or not, but I train for everything. I’ve literally been training since my college coaches ingrained into me to be ready for everything.
We’d go to a wrestling practice until 4:00 and be told to go eat, shower and come back in an hour and half and wrestle for another hour and a half, so that’s how I train. I’m always ready for anything.
As far as for this fight, I know Noah is better on the ground that he is standing, which is what we expected from Rebello. So I didn’t have to change too much, just change for the body types. Noah is quite a bit taller than myself or Rafael, so we’ve just carried on as planned.
We’ve made some adjustments as far as body size and body type, but other than that we trained our asses off for this and we’re ready to rock.
You’ve both fought Frank Gomez. While you came away with a win, he was submitted in the second round. Are you able to draw confidence from a situation like that, knowing you’ve beaten a guy he’s lost to in the past?
I don’t get overconfident. I’m confident, but I never get to a point where I’m like I know I have everything. I gotta be ready to fight.
Noah is in the WEC for a reason; we’re not just pulling bums off the street to fight for us, so the only thing it does is, on one hand, I fought Gomez and dominated him. I imposed my will on him and won very quickly.
On the other hand, Noah couldn’t get anything going against Frank. Frank dominated him, imposed his will there, so it makes me look at it from two different ways. Either Noah’s not willing to fight as hard as Frank and as hard as I do, or Frank is actually that much better than him and I put it to Frank in a minute nine.
They’re both tough guys; I don’t look at it any other way than he got beat up and I didn’t. When I go into this fight, it’s just going to be my gameplan: face paced, in his face, on the feet, I’m sure it will hit the ground, I’m sure we’ll be back up and I’m going to finish him before the third round.
That’s my plan from now on, to finish guys. No more decisions; I can go the distance, but I want to finish.
Last time out you lost a split decision to Antonio Banuelos. Looking back on the fight, what are some things you could have done differently to maybe sway the decision in your favor or do judges sometimes just not see things the same way as you do inside the cage?
I think it’s partly that, but like I said, I wouldn’t change anything. The only thing that I think kind of changed that fight was the first round.
He looked really good that first round and I didn’t and unfortunately it was because I couldn’t see. The first punch he landed landed on my eyeball; it wasn’t an illegal blow or anything like that, it’s just those small gloves fit right in my eye socket.
Rather than call a timeout, have the doctors come in and look at it because I didn’t think they’d let me fight. So I faked as much as I could and tried to keep moving and use my advantage. That’s why I kept clinching. I was just trying to hang out, let my vision come back. I knew I was safe and I’d probably lose that first round, but I couldn’t see.
That’s the only thing that sucked, dude. I think that first round made him look good enough that the first part of the second round, when I really couldn’t see perfect yet, he looked good and that’s what kind of won the fight.
I would have fought the same way, just been able to see.
Yeah, being able to see usually helps.
I just wish they would let us go one ten minute, one five minute like they do in Japan, because you put me in a ten minute fight, a ten minute first round and I’m going to hurt some people. I’m going to make them quit, so that’s the only thing.
It slowed me down in terms of how fast I started, but if I can fight a full fifteen minute fight at my pace, people can’t really hang with me and that’s when I’ll beat people.
It is what it is and all I keep saying is that I’ll fight whoever you want and I’ll fight him again as soon as you give me that chance.
Well I’ll give you that chance now in a way. Without looking past Thomas next Saturday, if you could book your next fight yourself, who is someone you’d like to get into the cage with?
If I could have any fight, I wanna fight for the title. My next fight, I either wanna fight for that #1 contender or the title and I don’t care who it is.
I literally don’t. A lot of people say that, but I literally don’t. When the WEC calls and says, “We’ve got so-and-so,” I don’t ask to find someone else, I say, “Okay.”
When they called and told us my opponent had been changed and they had to find me one, I didn’t say who or what or where, I just said, “Okay.” Then they called and told my manager that it was Noah Thomas and that was the end of it.
I’ll fight whoever, man. I just wanna get to the top and I don’t care who I have to go through to get there. Hopefully it doesn’t have to be a friend.
Funny you mention that because that’s a topic that comes up a lot. What are your thoughts on that?
I don’t want to fight my friends unless it means something. If I’m going to fight a friend, I want it to be for big money and for it to mean something. I don’t want it to be an undercard fight.
I want it to be main card, title, No. 1 contender, let’s do this type fight. I don’t want to fight a friend for an undercard fight. They can find someone else for me to fight on the undercard.
There has been a lot of talk around the online MMA community about a potential merger between the WEC and the UFC, as both are owned by Zuffa LLC.
What do you think about such a move? Would it be beneficial for the WEC and their roster or do you risk getting lost in the shuffle by joining forces with a larger organization?
That’s my big concern, losing the number of fights I can get in a year, but at the same time, if I’m winning and I’m exciting, they’re going to put me on no matter what as much as they can and I have a tendency to put on very exciting fights.
I think it’s a good thing. For smaller guys like myself and lighter weights, my paycheck’s not shabby looking at the other guys in my weight class and guys in the WEC’s contracts, I don’t have too bad a contract.
It’s middle of the road; it’s not a headliner contract and that UFC tag brings a lot more. It brings a lot more sponsorship and a lot more opportunities and what not.
I think it would be a great thing and I trust in Zuffa and myself that as long as I’m putting on great fights, the number of cards they’d have to put on and they keep hinting at network deals, that opens the opportunity for more shows. And if they add more shows, they gotta fill those shows and I think it’s a good thing. I think it means more money for us lighter weights, which makes Japan less and less appealing.
But right now, I love the WEC; they’ve given me a home, they’re the greatest organization to fight for and they’ve been great to me. They treat me well, they’ve been keeping me as active as possible and like I said, as long as I keep putting on exciting fights and the fans keep following me, I’ll get more and more fights and that helps the pump up the WEC.
Another topic that has come up sporadically is a Fighters Union. In fact, Urijah has been one of the only WEC fighters to voice an opinion on the issue, basically saying he feels the idea makes sense.
Do you think there is merit to the idea of a Fighters Union or would it do more harm than good?
I think it has merit, but I don’t know where to even start with it. I haven’t been involved in the sport long enough to know what it would take to set something like that up. I think it would help with our fighter contracts, but I don’t know, man.
I’ll just sit back and wait. I can’t complain right now. I’m not at Urijah’s level where he deserves to be getting paid so much, I’m just happy to be fighting.
Alright, last two...
If you could fight anyone—past or present—who would it be and why?
Let’s see... past or present... I would honestly like to fight... man, that’s a good one... I’m trying to think...
Present, I want to fight the champion at my weight class. I want to fight Brian Bowles. But past, I would like to throwdown with Achilles, somebody like that.
If you could play matchmaker for one day, regardless of organizational ties or anything like that, what three fights would you make and why?
Brock—Fedor; I want to see that and that’s probably the most common one.
Everyone has said that one.
I want to see Machida—Silva, and I loved to see a GSP—Anderson.
I want to see all the big fights they talk of, but I’d have to sit down and think. I try to keep everything else out of my mind when I’m training, so…
No worries; it’s easy for me to sit here behind a keyboard and play matchmaker, so I understand.
Any shout-outs you need to give? We do reach a guaranteed audience of 47 people…
Good luck to Joe Warren out there in DREAM; I know he’s going to win and bring those belts back and then we’re going to do it up and have a good time after my win.
Thanks everybody that helped me train, Combat Fitness, my sponsors Clinch Gear, Arrogant Apparel and thanks to my family for being there.
I appreciate it. Check out www.combatfitness.net to see what we do here in Boise.
Thanks for doing this.
Sweet man—thank you.
In a division loaded with talent, Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen is a name to remember.