Ep. #92 – Jeff Molina

Jeff Molina is a mixed martial artist who competes in the Flyweight division of the UFC. He has an 8-2 record as a professional which includes seven finishes and a win on Dana White’s Contender Series which earned him a UFC contract.


Jeff Molina: All right man, so how are you doing? How does it feel to be a ufc fighter? It feels good man. It feels good, um, honestly uh. I was just talking to the teammate about this the other day, but it doesn’t feel like anything different like it feels just like another win on the regional scene. I don’t know it’s weird and i’m happy to be here. Don’T get me wrong. This is like, where i dreamt of being, but it just feels like another fight, but i’m glad to be here uh, you know going to be able to fight the best people in the world and i think i belong here. Did it take a little while for it to sink in, like did you like, go back and start drinking with your fruit with your teammate, or was it just like? I’M gon na go back to the hotel, get let this sink in? What was sort of uh what’d you do after the fight yeah i just kind of hung out with some friends and family. We went out to eat and uh yeah. I think it’s sunken man, i’m not really sure dude like uh, like i don’t know, maybe because i picture myself being here so many times it just kind of feels like normal. I don’t know and then so, like with my teammates uh. I was talking to grant dawson he’s in the ufc and he kind of had a similar path to getting there as far as like going through contender series, so i was like maybe uh. Maybe it feels this way because of the way i earned the contract right kind of with the the interview in front of dana white through the contender series path and uh. So i asked him i’m, like: did you kind of feel like the same way he’s a dude absolutely like? I felt the same way and he’s like i thought after my first ufc fight like as i was walking out, i could feel like. Okay, i’m in the ufc he’s like didn’t manage to like another fight, so uh, i’m like okay, cool, i’m just never gon na be happy. No i’m joking, but uh yeah. I guess that’s kind of the mindset you have to have. I guess, but i don’t know it feels great being here man and it has a nice ring to it, saying i’m in the ufc, so uh i’ll take it. So i want to talk a little bit about the contender series. How did you get the the the news that you were going to compete on it? Obviously, there’s like a pandemic going on everything’s kind of going nuts. What was your reaction to getting it, and how did you get the how’d? You get the news. Yes, it was just a couple days after uh my fight in february, i fought a tough uh vet. You know he’s kind of thought who’s who, especially around the midwest spot, ufc vets. So i thought i beat him in the second round with an arm triangle and then a couple days later i get the facetime call from my manager and coach, like hey man, uh contender series uh, let’s do it and i was just stoked you know i was On cloud nine, you know it’s the opportunity. I’Ve been working for for a pretty long time. So when i got the news it was, it was just get get to work. It was uh at the end of february when i got the news um. The fight was supposed to mean july, because the fight island got pushed back to august with uh, with everything that was going on the pandemic. You know the inability to train in it and all that stuff was there any hesitation like you know, i’m not getting the proper training or i’m not. I can’t get the proper camp. I can’t get in the right mindset. Was there any hesitation to take it, or was it just this opportunity comes around once a lifetime, i’m grabbing it, no matter what yeah both it was. It was actually pre-coded that i got news so uh. It was at the end of february and then everything went to [, __ ], but uh yeah. There was never a question of like whether to take it or not. I got a little longer camp, i think in total it was like 14 weeks because the the fight got pushed back, um and and then training with covet. It was just like man you’re going to find a way to make it happen. There’S no excuses like when you want something that bad you’re going to find a way to train so for everybody making excuses with kova. You can find a way to train. I was uh. I was talking to greg hopkins who fights on uh valor uh a couple weeks now actually and uh. He was saying he’s like i blew up man i put on so much. Ladies. I don’t know how i’m gon na get back down. Did you have any issues with your weight cut, or did you manage to kind of keep it relatively low? Yeah yeah? I did get pretty heavy man. I got like uh in the high 50s um, while getting ready for the fight it was just. I was dealing with an injury, so i got pretty heavy, but man again you find a way to make it happen. Uh you find a way to make sure you get the training you need. You know, especially with an opportunity like that. I want to talk a little bit about the fight now um. How did i mean he looked unbelievable jacob silva? He was incredibly tough. Did anything about him. Surprise you, no man, i felt like uh. We had him down to like a t like pretty much. That was the exact thing we thought he was going to do. We knew he was tough, we knew he was durable. My coach uh james krauss was actually not able to be there. He tested positive for covid, but the day of the fight. He facetimed me just to kind of go over the game plan again uh the morning of the fight and uh. Exactly what he said was gon na happen happen right. We uh, he told me, there’s gon na be a point in the fight where he says: [ __ ] it i’m getting picked apart on the feet, uh from a distance. You know this. Kid has too many weapons and he’s going to bite down the mouthpiece and start fighting him, blitzes kind of just say, bite down on his mouthpiece and swing for the fences and that’s kind of what he did in the third round. So i felt like we did a pretty good job. The game plan was to meet him bone on bone when he came in with his blitzes, meaning with knees and elbows. I felt like i did a pretty good job of doing that so dana and the team tend to like uh like finishes. They like submissions and like knockouts, you’ve finished every opponent up until the contender series was there any bit of like. Were you nervous at all that you know? Maybe the the fact that it was a decision may play play a factor into his decision, or were you confident because that fight was an absolute war too? So i mean it was performance of the night worthy regardless, but were you nervous at all yeah? There was a little bit of nervousness man uh. You just never know. Um, however, like when i got the fight i was talking to my manager. This was like back end of february. It was like, like i have, to get a finish right, it’s kind of what i asked him and he was like dude. Your style is like so entertaining that, even if you go to a decision i think uh. I think you get the contract, so that was running through my mind, like those exact like that exact conversation we had after the fight and then it was also like. Well it’s a decision. You know you never know um so yeah i was nervous, but uh people were like texting me. James was uh. My coach was like texting me he’s like man, you got standing ovation, so it was trying to stay optimistic, but yeah. There was uh some nerves back there like [ __ ]. Am i gon na get it am i gon na have to like try out again, like you know, like i don’t know, i’m just glad i i did get the contract yeah. I guess the good thing there, too, is that you are uh in a flyweight division which doesn’t have you know 100 fighters on the roster like the welterweight or lightweight division um. That being said, where does that slide you? In there i mean, there’s probably what 20 25 fighters on the on the roster there at flyweight. Is there an idea of of what you want in there or where do you think you match up in the top 15 yeah man um? I said this in the post fight presser, but i want to take my time. I’M young, i turned 23 just a month or two ago, and i i kind of want to work my way through the rank. So i want to start from the bottom work. My way to the top uh i do think i will be the champ at the division and as of now, i think i match up great with anybody in the top 15. um. I can see myself putting on really good performances against all those guys um, but i’m in no hurry man, i’m not putting a timetable on when i want to be champ. It’S not like. I need to be the chain by the time i’m 25 there’s. I i think it’s going to happen uh. I know it’s going to happen and i’m in no rush. I i’m in the gym every day and i get better every day, so i’m just kind of kind of play it by ear and there’s no there’s no name in my mouth that i like someone. I want to fight um. I do have a fight lined up with an opponent and a date um, so maybe after that, after that debut, i might have a name in my mouth that uh or a person i want to fight. I want to focus on a fight that happened really early on in your career and it’s really kind of shaped you as a fighter. I want to talk about your loss to nate smith um. It was very, very close fight. What was the biggest lesson you learned from that fight that you’ve applied to your following fights yeah with the nate fight um? It was just uh i needed to treat the the professional mma scene like like a business. I took the same mindset i had as an amateur into the professional rankings uh, which was like i’ll fight anybody. Anyway, it doesn’t matter and that’s not how it works. Man, that’s not how it is. When you go pro, you can do that as an amateur kind of test yourself as an enemy, get that experience fight whoever, but as a pro you got ta treat it as a business and uh. I didn’t do that uh, my first fight. I took it away class above against a guy who was 4-0 and uh. You know the result kind of spoke for for me doing that like and then i took three pro fights in four months. I was in training camp for 10 months and again this is not making excuses man. This is just uh, you know realizing a mistake and that i learned from and kind of being smarter with my career uh that nate fight, i did think i won that fight. It was in his hometown a split decision. He won that night props to him, but i think overall it wasn’t even a fighting thing that i learned most from that fight. It was just uh to treat this like like a business and uh just be more professional right. There’S no reason i should be fighting three times in four months: uh, you know and being in camp for pretty much the whole year. It’S just hard of a body and uh. It’S something i learned from is it? Is it a little uh rewarding knowing that you got here and he didn’t like? Does that? Does that make you make it any sad any more satisfying like yeah? Maybe i lost that night controversially, but i lost, but you know what i made it to the show and i won when it mattered or does it you know that fights in the past? It doesn’t even really matter anymore yeah i mean i was hoping the kid would win, so he could have that trilogy fight in the ufc. I hope he gets another shot, he’s good man. I respect him as a fighter and then mixed martial artists as a person. I don’t like him um, but yeah yeah as a fighter. I respect him and i hope he gets another shot and he gets in the ufc. Uh he’s good man he’s obviously a skillful, but i think i’m better than him everywhere and i would love to get that one back. I i love how young you got into this sport like it’s unheard of when you hear about uh, you know fighters watching it on tv. At you know such a young age um. I can just imagine my parents would never let me even come near like watching a ufc event live um. How did that play a role into really like making? You follow your dreams into becoming a ufc uh fighter? Yeah um man uh, my parents. Support was like it was a weird one. It was like. We don’t want you doing this, but we want you doing this at the same time, so that was cool like i remember specifically my mom at my very first fight. It was a couple weeks after turning 16., like i still had braces on my face like i was still looking like a kid, and we were in some like hillbilly bar out in the in grand valley, missouri called the whiskey tango, and i just remember my mom, Like in between rounds, i looked over and she’s covering her face and she’s like looking through her hands uh. So, like you know, they weren’t happy yet at first with my uh, my decision, but now they’re, like my number one fans, man, they’re they’re, super supportive uh. They understand the sport that they watch every ufc car every weekend, like uh just the other week. My mom was like: oh man, that’s a deep arm and guillotine i kind of looked over at her like dang mom, like you know, uh yeah, so they’re like they understand the sport and they support me a ton, and that was cool from from a young age. To to kind of get that support from them – and you know uh, i kind of got to watch the sport grow from when i started watching it. When i was 14 to now, it’s it’s completely different sport and that’s pretty cool. One of the things i noticed is you did get a tattoo uh with a colombian flag. You are a proud colombian um. That being said, you fought your entire career here in in the united states. Is it a dream of yours to maybe compete in a ufc columbia, car dude that would be uh, sick man? That’S that’d, be that’d, be crazy, uh yeah! That’S that’s! Definitely uh on the bucket list, uh to bring the ufc to columbia um. I i think it’s a goal that that we can’t accomplish, and who knows, maybe uh, maybe that’s where a title fight would be in the future. Is that uh? Is that something that you want to do? I heard a lot of guys talk about. You know. I want to travel with this. I want to go out and explore the world guys, like um, ed herman, that every fight seems to be in a different country, but then there’s guys who just are like you know what i just. I don’t really want to leave the united states, i think robbie lawler has like 100 professional fights, he’s only ever fought outside of the u.s once and that was in canada. So if you could, you know project your career. Where would you rather be? You know fight in the united states or explore the world. While you can yeah, i would love to explore the world man. I feel like that’s that’s part of one of the uh. The perks of having this as a profession is getting to uh to travel with your friends, your coaches, your homies and uh. Getting to experience different cultures uh try different food. Obviously, it’s hard doing that, while you’re cutting weight in a different country – but i mean afterwards like the ufc lets, you choose your return flight. So why not make it an experience? I think uh, that’s part of life is getting to experience different parts of the world and i’ve always thought traveling super cool. I haven’t gotten to do a ton of it. I think i’ve only left the country twice, but it’s awesome man. I love it and i definitely want to do more of it. We talked a little bit about your latino background. Another latino is fighting for the light heavyweights strap and dominic reyes, who arguably won against jon jones uh being a jon jones fan thought he lost, but i think there’s a lot of bias in that uh he’s fighting jan blehovich. What’S your prediction for that fight? It’S a good fight man, uh ray’s is good man and i think he showed that against john. That he’s. Definitely you know top three in the world um i’ll, take rey. Isn’T that probably uh, probably by tko uh, you can’t sleep on uh. How do you say his last name, blah [, __ ]? I butchered that yeah can’t sleep on him and he’s good uh, but i think dominic ray is better everywhere. I think uh, the other guy might have better jiu jitsu. But you know that’s just one facet of the game and it’s hard to get someone there so i’ll. Take rey. Isn’T that fine i’ll ask you one last question and then i’ll uh i’ll? Let you get going so you’ve got a date november. You’Ve got an opponent. How excited are you to get back in there super excited man. I i love this matchup. I couldn’t ask for better match up stylistically, it’s perfect and it’s, i think the ufc matched up for a reason. They knew it was going to be fireworks and uh. I’M not i’m not in here to get more fight of the nights. Dana told me after my fight that was fight of the night. I want this performance tonight, so i’m excited to be able to go out here and show more uh, more facets of my game and just show i’m a well-rounded next martial artist. So for people who may not have watched your contender series fight, what can they expect from you? What’S your fight style like and what can they expect in november yeah? My fighting style is just uh just violent. It’S uh i’m constantly looking to to do damage and i’m trying to rearrange your face and trying to move your eyebrows around i’m trying to play mr potato head uh. You know i’m not one of these people that are going to take you down and just hold you down. If i take you down, i’m looking to do damage, i’m looking for you to make a mistake to either leave your neck out or or just keep keep punching. You keep elbowing you until you give up when people are violent, they tend to feed off the energy of the crowd as someone who’s kind of competed in an empty arena, do you notice it at all, or are you someone who just manages to drown all that Out yeah, it was noticeable just of how quiet it was, and there were certain circumstances going into the fight. Like me, not having my coaches there, that kind of made it more obvious um, especially in a place, that’s just like where you can hear a pin, drop and uh so yeah. It was different, but at the same time it’s a fight. You know whether it’s in an empty arena in front of dana or in front of 10 000 people or or in your backyard, a fight to fight. So there was like no added pressure, just felt like another another fist fight all right man i’ll give you this uh this opportunity to kind of like plug your instagram and your twitter handles um. If anyone wants to follow you sweet uh instagram is j molina underscore 125. twitter’s the same thing. I think facebook is j. S m, o l, i a underscore one, two: five and uh yeah. That’S it man. Thank you for having me brother, no man thanks for coming on. I appreciate it. Uh i’ve been a fan for a while. You really impressed me on the contender series and i’m rooting for you next time out thanks brother. I appreciate it all right man, all the best

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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