Ep. #80 – Jacob Kilburn

Jacob Kilburn is a mixed martial artist who competes in the Feathweight in the UFC. The Tennessee native has picked up six stoppages in his eight victories en route to earning a UFC contract his past December.


Jacob Kilburn: So how are you doing how’s your day been doing good uh trained hard this morning, uh sparred super hard. I’Ve had to drain my ear twice today, so uh just a typical day, man, fun stuff. I want to talk a little bit about the the pandemic. I mean we can’t go through this without talking about how the world is pretty much in shambles right now, but uh how’s, your training been. How has your life been throughout the entire pandemic, and i did where i was in tennessee. It wasn’t that bad. Well, we moved like and then like a week later it got super crazy or some gym shut down for a couple weeks, and then they started letting in so like pros. You know who were in major shows or have contracts or something like that uh. So, as far as like living, it’s really weird everybody’s masked up here, you got ta, wait in lines, there’s capacities and like grocery stores and stuff we’re in broward county, which is like the third worst place to be in america. As far as you know, the pandemic goes, but it hasn’t affected training. I’Ve still been an american top team every day, twice a day um, you know, there’s a little less bodies in the gym. Just you know, people have families and some guys you know if you’re not in a major show, you don’t have a contract or something you can’t be in the gym right now, but uh i mean, as far as you know, everything goes. I really don’t have anything to complain about. I know some people have had it rough, but we’ve been okay, yeah, i’m up in canada, so we’re on the east coast, which is, i think, the safest place in north america, but we’re not allowed leaving. So i mean there’s, there’s pros and cons to both. You can’t really guys are probably more level headed there and you know like obey the rules and are responsible and and everybody down here is partying going to the beach and just being reckless, and you know so. Yeah yeah there’s the there’s that i mean we get fined and stuff at first so like if you were out out at times and they’d, find you if you were weren’t wearing a mask. They’D find you so it’s i don’t know they’re they’re they’re, forcing it down our throats here. So whether we like it or not, we have to obey obey by it, but uh, but yeah i mean training is limited. I haven’t been able to get back to jiu jitsu in a while. Obviously i don’t fight or anything, but i haven’t done jitsu in a little while so it sucks here but uh, but man, it’s good to hear that you’re back in the back in gym training. Um overall man, how have you uh? How are you feeling how’s the weight uh, i’m speaking for myself, i blowed it up. I put on extra pounds with the pandemic. No uh, i feel really good. I’M sitting at like 165 could make weight. I can make weight in a week if i needed to um we’re trying to get booked um. You know like no injuries or anything like that. I’Ve been able to stay active. Obviously, with you know, with the way this is going uh making the move out here. I’M completely on sponsor money back home. I was teaching martial arts, you know 40 plus hours a week and then i would train at the gym that i was a coach at in between and stuff um. So i could kind of make as much money as i wanted to if i needed to do extra lessons or we wanted to put together some kind of an event or a seminar, we could do that here, i’m completely on sponsor money. So it’s not like there’s a bunch of extra money to go out to eat and get fat anyways so uh. You know i there’s again there’s pros and cons to everything. I just try to look at it as a good thing. Instead of complaining about not having money hey at least, i can’t get too out of shape, so you know how: how important has that moved to a to a bigger camp bin and have you noticed it since you’ve started training down there? It’S uh, it’s it’s like essential. Um and everybody’s got the same story here, there’s a couple of homegrown guys, but most everybody um, just about whether my weight, class or or bigger or smaller, they were the hero of their hometown. You know they’re the best guy in their gym, the best guy in their region and then they got signed with ufc or bellator or one or you know a contender series match or something like that and they decided. You know i need to be somewhere where i’m not the best guy in the room every day, but i need to be getting beat up. We’Ve all got the same story. That’S why we’re here and uh. You know it’s. It’S been really helpful because uh, it’s you just you know you get to spend some time on on the bottom or in losing positions or or you know, sometimes you you go rounds where you get beat up pretty good. You know you’re we’ve got guys that are fighting for world titles in here every day, so you know it’s um and even just the atmosphere. You know back home there’s like 150 000 people in my city and just about everybody knows me uh. I can’t go to the mall or pump gas or go get groceries or whatever without somebody saying hi or wanting a picture or whatever. But but here you know in coconut creek, nobody knows me. I walk into the gym uh back home and i get a standing ovation here, just one of the guys. In fact, i’m at the bottom of the totem pole. You know you’ve got guys that are fighting for world titles. You got boy mozart, all with guys like that. You know i’m i’m still uh, i’m still working my way up. So uh, it’s really good. It’S! It’S allowed me to shrink my head a little bit and uh. You know just go back to kind of getting beat up again, which is uh what i need, because no matter who they match me up with next they’re, not going to be the guys, i’m training with it’s going to be it’s going to seem like an easy Day as crazy as that is you know, in the ufc, against the toughest people in the world, i just know the rounds i put in with training uh everybody i went with this morning was either a world champion or more already signed with ufc. So i mean it’s been important for sure yeah i spoke with uh odie delaney, who had a very similar sort of observation. He was like, i got down here and started training with andre and greg hardy, and i was like, oh my god, i’m getting my ass handed to me day in day. It is important that you you seek that higher level competition, it’s humbling it and uh. You know it’s hard to progress if the guys you’re learning from are quite at the level you need no doubt i i want to talk a little bit about your debut. Obviously i can’t we can’t go without talking about your uh, your debut performance um. I watched uh, your you uh, i guess the announcement of you getting the fight on fight bananas and uh man. The emotion was there. I could see that you wanted it so bad, i’m sure the fight didn’t go the way you wanted to. But what sorts of lessons can you learn from that fight, uh that you can apply to your uh next, so um, even even the phone call there’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that you just can’t know. I know i’m i’m being recorded uh. You know i’m because we’re doing a podcast. It was a surprise. So now that i know we’re being recorded, i have to act excited, but what people don’t know is i’d been on the couch for six weeks, uh with some bulging disc issues, um wasn’t able to train been over a month since i had done anything athletic um And me and my chiropractor back home, just decided, you know we were going to wait till the beginning of the year and and then we would start training again in 2020, but i was coming off with two good knockouts. My back was was really pretty bad. It was affecting me at work. I was really limited in what i was able to teach and all that so i just hadn’t trained um, you know and then, when i got the text the day before that surprise phone call on five bananas, i s. Of course, i said yes and i lied, and i said of course, i’m in shape or whatever, because that may have been the only opportunity you know you’re ever going to get you just never know so. You’Re acting excited and all that, but i know crap. Of course, this would happen and i’ve got nine days, i’m not in shape the weight cuts gon na suck. My back is so tight. I can’t really even do much to get ready. It’S basically just starve yourself and then go do your best, and so we all talked about it backstage before the fight like hey, we got about 60 to 90 seconds of good gas. We’Re gon na go, give it our best and then, after that you know i i had known because i had you know been training the couple days i had leading up to that and i was getting so tired so fast i hadn’t done anything and uh. So i wish i would have been able to make it to the third round. We almost did you know i’m happy with what i did on short notice. I escaped seven submissions. I took 140 shots and i was really exhausted. There were several moments in there. I just thought i’m gon na quit moving and just lay here and just let it be over, but i thought no he’s gon na get tired in a second i’m gon na get up, and you know i i know anybody in my division. I just have to touch them one time and i can put him asleep. We just didn’t get that opportunity. That was without a doubt, the the shortest note notice, fight i’ve had the worst preparation and the worst performance. You know on the biggest stage. So all the cards were stacked against me, but i there’s a lot of people with that story. Um, so there’s been a lot of people that you know call me out and whatever that, but that’s not representative at all of who i am as a as a fighter um, particularly not now, but uh so yeah. It was a bad debut, but it’s just gon na make the story that much cooler when i get a big win, the next fight and uh. So you know sean shelby told me: he appreciated me taking it and uh. You know, and the guy that beat me he’s, he hasn’t lost in the ufc since so um he’s fighting soon again. He he’s a good fighter, you know um, so it is what it is is it is a little uh bittersweet seeing his success. Obviously, he’s he’s done like he said, he’s undefeated in the ufc he’s doing well, or is it like motivating to be like look, i lost to a guy who’s actually doing really really well and given everything that’s going on, it’s it’s a little bit reassuring. Knowing that he’s doing well right, nobody wants to lose to the guy that then turn around and and can’t win. You don’t want to be the only person that that guy can beat his last fight. He he fought up in weight. Uh took a fight out of his weight class against a big, strong guy that really comes and pushes the pace and uh. You know he he looked good. It was a tough fight uh. He got the win and um. I forget who he’s fighting next? I i’ve tried been trying to follow him. We’Ve been, you know, friendly with each other, but kyle nelson kyle nelson right. It’S good to see him doing well, i hope he keeps doing well and maybe with a full camp. Let me get a couple wins. We can run that one back. We were uh, he was ranked number one in florida and i was ranked number two and it was that way for a long time in the pros um. Somehow we just never fought each other. So you know um, i’m happy to see him doing well as for for what’s next, for you um is there a timeline? Are you had you have any knacking injuries from the fight? Are you good to go or, and and if so, what sort of timeline are you looking at uh i had like after the fight i had a mandatory six weeks, i had some like orbital and nose and like some fractures in my face it just uh, it Took a little over a month um, the ufc called me with an offer, like two weeks after my fight uh to fight um. What’S his tall guy sean woodson and uh, i was like man, i i can’t even spar for another month. You know, according to the doctor, now i i would have said yes, but you know i wanted to just give myself a fair shot and have you know at least a month to train or whatever. So i was like. No, you know that the doctor says i can’t so. You know we had a legitimate medical excuse. I’Ve tried to get that mad, since you know just because i i liked it and they had already pushed for it, usually the ufc. If they try to match you as somebody and you can’t do it they’re going to keep trying to match you that person um, so i really wanted the nate landlord fight like really really bad um. I just saw today that he’s booked for later in september, so you know, i know we push for it. I know my management asked the ufc and i know the ufc reached out to his management and they turned it down for whatever reason um, but i told my manager last week, i’m ready to go anytime in september. You know three weeks, four weeks, five weeks it doesn’t matter my friend, brock weaver has a fight. I think the 12th against frank camacho, i’d like to get on that card with him. We have the same manager. We train together, we’re good buddies. It would make sense for us to travel together and have fight week together. So you know i i could have a phone call in a day or two saying: hey. You got a month get ready, so um, i’m just training twice a day like i have a fight coming up and keeping my weight in that low 160s range. Hopefully soon, though, because i need money, you know i’m making just enough in sponsors to pay the rent and then in between training sessions like delivering for uber and stuff, like that, so i’m just ready to get paid. So i can relax a little bit. You know yeah absolutely one thing i noticed about your career. I may be wrong when i say this, but you’ve competed primarily in the united states. White island has been pretty much. The only thing people talk about for a month there when there was no fights is that something that you’d be open to traveling abroad for a fight or because you know because of the way your debut went. Are you looking to fight more locally uh? No, it doesn’t matter to me, i mean it wouldn’t have mattered where the debut was uh, i it was in dc. It was really cool. What soaked it up when saw all the sights beforehand. Uh, i’m not a guy that gets like nervous or nothing bothers me or whatever um i mean heck. I was living in in tennessee and i i fought uh my amateur career. I was fighting tennessee kentucky, mississippi, alabama, indiana uh and then in my pro career i fought tennessee kentucky florida, georgia and, and most of my fights at least before cracking into the ufc, were we’re in florida and georgia. So i don’t need to stay home or feel comfortable or whatever there’s only two options right now you got vegas and you got fight island. That’S pretty much! That’S pretty much all they’re doing either you’re, either fighting at the apex or you’re fighting on the island. So um either one of those would be fine. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s flight island um, you know that would be cool to see. Abu dhabi, i couldn’t uh, you know if it was in vegas. That’S me and my wife’s favorite place. We got married there, we celebrated a one-year anniversary there. So right after the fight, i would fly her in and we’d spend a couple days there. So that would be ideal, but if fly island is what they have for me, then that’s fine too. It’S a matter. How do you feel the empty arena would affect you? I mean you’ve seen a lot of guys talk about it, specifically um anthony smith, who you know hearing his corner the entire time i feel like played a factor into his performance. But how do you feel like as someone who’s competed like with an audience? How do you feel like how do you think it would impact your performance having to hear the cornermen of both teams and no fans, as well as a commentary right um? You know there’s pros and cons to everything some people uh it uh they like it. For me, i thrive off the crowd. The the big walk out, the smoke, the loud music, the lasers and all the you know, and i like just the more pressure’s on me. The the better i i you know i i’ve always felt like i do um, but one problem. I’Ve had traditionally is not being able to hear my corner over the crowd so uh, where i would miss the energy of the crowd and i wouldn’t feel the pressure because it would kind of feel like another day in practice with it being so quiet um. I would like the idea of because the guy that would be in my corner would be steve bruno from american top team and when he’s coaching me everything he says, i just do it instantly and it works perfect um and he he has a loud voice that I can pick out through a crown because he’s he’s coaching me and sparring every day, so i think it would work in my favor um. You know – and i definitely i want to fight during the pandemic before the crowds come out um, because i want a chance to for the first time in a long time since fighting amateur to hear a coach’s voice. Um, i’ve always had trouble picking that out and i think it’d be cool to hear what his corner saying too. So you know it’s a free giveaway you, you know what to do before. He does it because you heard him coach it so um. I think it would help me i would miss the crowd and i missed the energy. That was a struggle i had on contender series. I was really open about that that it was hard for me to get hyped up just because it was so quiet and i could hear people having conversations in the crowd during the fight. It was weird but uh yeah. I definitely want to fight with no crowd. So that i can say i did it, you know big fight this weekend with no with no crowd, which is really unusual, they’re having, in my opinion, the biggest heavyweight fight of all time in front of an empty arena. What’S your thoughts on that fight, who do you think has it you know um, i really like daniel cormier um. His only losses have been title fight losses. I think he’s done some cool stuff. I just ufc just posted. I think the other day of, like all of steepest, wins and uh. It changed my opinion of him. I i didn’t think he was as good as everybody. He said he was but then looking at all the people he’s beat and uh going back and watching some of his fights again, it’s a lot better fighter than i realized um. I wanted dc to win that fight can go any direction. The first fight was closed. Right up until daniel caught him and the second fight was back and forth until stipe found those body shots, um daniel’s made it really open that he’s going to wrestle. So you know, maybe that’s a lie to to get steve they’re watching for the takedown. So boxing works better or maybe he’s really going to go out there and do it um. I think dc has more tools and i think stife is a little bit of a slow starter. So if, if daniel is going to get it done with a finish, it needs to be in the first two rounds. Um i’m pulling for dc, though you know i’ll, ask you a couple more questions and then i’ll uh and then i’ll. Let you go the the little platform i built before, starting this podcast. I built it by making up matchups. So after every fight i’d be like you know what so and so who law should fight so-and-so as uh? Is there anybody in the ufc who you one day, regardless of their current status, whether they’re a contender champion, um or even a former fighter? Is there anybody that you wish that one day you can test your skills against um? Well, the way you phrased it test. My skills, you always want to test your skills against everybody. I would really like there’s probably everybody’s answer, but i want to fight conor mcgregor uh, if you just google, jacob kilburn, conor mcgregor you’ll find like four different articles throughout the years and when i was fighting regionally as a pro where you know, i would call them Out on the microphone or if someone did an article, i would do and it’s obviously just uh, you know, get my name and get some buzz, but at the same time you know like, as a person ethnically you know, he’s not the. I got kids in my gym that looked up to him and it frustrates me because he’s a knucklehead and he just does really stupid things and uh. You know i would, i would, you know, hit old guys, man, that’s so i’d like to invite connor, but also because we have really similar like backgrounds and stances and and uh. You know he has that kind of wider, more linear, karate stance and uh. He fades away and pulls back and throws the two, and i like to do that stuff too, and i just feel like i would be able to play his style with him and uh. You know, i think people break a little bit too before and he wouldn’t you know, break me so conor mcgregor would be the guy. You know if i could fight anybody, so i i kind of i like that point that you made like there’s kids that really look up to him um it’s it’s almost bad that negative attention in the ufc becomes good attention right, like guys, like mike perry, they’re Out there starting fights with random people, but you know they’re getting noticed um and if you get noticed you get bigger paydays. The ufc is more likely to sign you. How do you like? What’S the message for for kids or people up and coming um like? How do you tell them like hey, look, stay, grounded, be yourself and don’t let any of that get to you. So what would your message to them be? Well, it is tough uh, and you know i i would just say that uh get there with your hard work because uh at the end of the day, when you’re alone and the quiet of your room or you know early morning shower or whatever uh, you know How you got to where you’re at and why um and some people can say it’s because i put in some really good work and i beat some good guys and all that and some guys can say it’s because you know i had a a rainbow afro or Whatever you know like, and i and i you know said a bunch of mean things on twitter and you know through drinks on or whatever like um, let your skills do all the you know, and you can have fun and say silly things on a microphone and All that, but let it be no doubt um for you, your coaches, your family, your fans and any of your haters that whether people like you or don’t like you, let them all agree on the fact that well, these worries out be because of the work he’s Done and his skills um that’s the way you want to do it because that’s the lasting legacy uh. You know that the greatest boxers or or mma fighters of all time, regardless of their personalities, will always be recognized because of their performances. So just let your work! You know be what gets you there and even if throwing a dog through might get more paper device, don’t do it. You know um one last question and then i’ll, let you uh, let you get out of here, but um for people who have only watched your debut ufc fight, who maybe haven’t seen. You haven’t seen your fights before that. What would be the message to them like what? What is your fighting style and which fight? Would you point them out and be like? That’S the fight that best describes me as a fighter uh, any other fights in that one um like it’s kind of been known secret in the past uh. My my debut pro fight was a a one punch walk away knockout. My next one was a was a guillotine choke finish. My next one was an armbar finish and my next one, the guy, took me down and held me down the whole time, so i stepped up the light weight and fought him uh. After that, i came back and we had a really exciting fight ended up rematching the guy went back to back. I had a contender fight um. You know he held me down the whole time and caught me in the one joke that he’s good at and then we came back and we had a bunch of knockouts um. You know, but i’m always a finisher unless the guy is able to to you, know out position me uh, i’m fixing those holes every day with really high level guys so that that’s no longer him in the past. It’S just been the route to be jacob is to get him down and out position him for a while and tell you he gives you a choke. Look at my record i’ll be lost by a close decision or i lost by a choke later in the fight uh. When you watch any of my other fights and i’m knocking people out dead, so um, you know, if that’s the only fight you’ve seen i get it. You’Re gon na write me off uh, i’m gon na be an underdog. I will just change your mind with my future performances um, but you know we can look in the past. I’Ve. I’Ve fought glory veterans, i’ve fought, you know, i fought tough guys and you know in different parts of the country, and i beat them impressively and uh. You know so that wasn’t really that representative of who i am as a fighter, but the the best thing i can do is just go, get away in the next fight and show people. So i usually i’m working as hard as i can and doing everything i can to make sure that uh what happened last time doesn’t happen again, even if it’s a nine-day notice fight, it won’t look like that. So all right man, i appreciate you taking the time. Looking forward to your next one, whatever you do, man stay safe. I know florida’s crazy right now with cases so uh so stay safe man, and hopefully we get to see you sooner rather than later. Yes, sir, all right man, all the best thanks bro

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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