Ep. #125 – Jordan Leavitt

Jordan Leavitt is a mixed martial artist who competes in the Lightweight division of the UFC. The Dana White Contender Series’ alum recently picked up his first UFC victory with an emphatic 22-second knockout of UFC veteran Matt Wiman.

Jordan Leavitt: All right, we are back with the 125th edition of the quarantine cast. I’M actually really really excited for this one. I will be joined by jordan levitt, who had a incredible debut 22. Second ko uh slam, which we don’t see very often anymore. So without further ado, i’m gon na invite them on hey how’s it going going well. How are you doing not too bad uh? First things. First, man uh. How are you doing? How are uh how’s your holiday uh going so far, um the holidays have been really cool. It’S been nice to have the first month of this. The first part of like december was super exhilarating. A lot of different emotions excitement it’s nice to have a very low-key. You know holiday back home with my wife and just got to get in yeah just getting the chill any any big plans for tonight. Uh, it’s new year’s eve. Do you have anything crazy going on? Are you just gon na stay home? I’M just gon na stay home um, my wife and one of her friends, probably gon na watch the bachelor and i’ll, probably grudgingly, be there i’ll, probably have some hot chocolate and just relax nice. Just relaxing i’m done with the excitement for the year. I just want to have a nice little snooze festival last day of 2020.. I like that uh, especially with the way 2020 has been for a lot of people. I think that’s uh how most of us are going to spend it, i’m in very much the same boat, i’m going to sit down, watch a hockey game and just hopefully uh call it an early night. Yeah that’d be nice. How does it uh? How does it feel to be a ufc fighter? Man, i’m sure you’ve been asked that a lot um, but now you actually have a win um. A lot of people say it doesn’t really feel like i’m part of the ufc. Until i have that win, you have a win. How does it feel to be part of the roster? Honestly i was i’m on the same boat. I was like i’m not really a fighter until i go there and i win my debut. So the my fight was quite anticlimactic. Actually i trained super hard as my first real fight camp, i lifted weights. For the first time i was picking my sparring partners very carefully put all this meticulous work into my camp and then i win by slam. So with a little anticlimactic, so i’m not sure if i still, if i feel like a ufc fighter yet i mean i had to check mark by my name and got the paycheck and everything, but it still hasn’t really settled in yet that i’m a ufc fighter. I guess i have to really be in a fight but um, but yeah. It’S it’s weird, to have like your it’s surreal to have your dream kind of come true and for it to happen in a very like perfect picture-perfect way. So a lot of good emotions. Do you feel, like part of the reason why it doesn’t feel like that is the lack of the audience? I mean when you think about the ufc. You think about sold out venues, 55 000 people in arenas, and you go out there in your debut and there’s no one. There do you feel like that, might be part of the reason as well, that that definitely that, for sure, can be part of the reason um i’m used to fighting hometown kids like traveling and i’m used to the crowd. Booing me every fight i’ve had, except for maybe my first amateur fight cause. All my friends went. I just been booed had like cussed out and i was the bad guy. So when i walk into that quiet room – and it’s just literally because hear my coach – you got this bubba. You know like it’s really hard to really feel like. I feel like i’m performing for all those people when, in reality, i probably still have a world like worldwide audience still have thousands, perhaps millions of people watching at that time. So i definitely think the lack of a crowd, though, is good for me, because no one boosts me. It definitely makes it hard for me to like feel like oh yeah. This is the ufc fighting experience yeah for sure uh. I do want to talk about that. Debut because when you get matched up with a guy like matt wyman, who has you know his legacy in the ufc he’s one of the he’s been around for forever? I know he took some time off and i think a lot of people uh rule him out when they consider you know a true pioneer lightweight. I think he’s been around forever when you get matched up with a guy like that. Someone you’ve watched on tv, someone you’ve almost looked up to what was your initial reaction. I had some mixed emotions. I used. I was a really big. I was a big fan of matt wyman when i was like a freshman in a sophomore in high school. The way he drive for leglocks is like the way he would close distance with superman punches and right hooks and leg kicks. He had like his tactics were met were probably about like 10 years ahead of where the sport is now. Of course it wasn’t as refined as we have now, but he was doing a lot of things that some fighters still struggle with. So as a fan, it was very difficult to like fight matt wyman, because i was a big fan of him and maybe kind of nervous, because i’ve never fought in someone like you have people with way less fights than matt wyman be like he’s, nev they’re, not Going to show me anything i haven’t seen before and i’m like will i really be able to show matt wyman anything he hasn’t seen before um, so i had i was. It was humbling and exhilarating and exciting and kind of intimidating to fight someone that you look up to that you, like so lots of mixed emotions. That’S for sure, does it make the win a little bit bittersweet, because i could only imagine if i were to uh in the way you did it too. I mean you knocked out someone that you you looked up to someone. You were a fan of. Was it a little bit bittersweet like you almost feel bad celebrating yeah, it was very bitter. It was mostly just bitter um i’ve never knocked out anybody before. I never removed someone from their consciousness and i’m very lucky that the ufc went to vic once a commercial break. I started to cry because i’m a boob, you know – and so it looks all silly because i’m not the one that’s hurt, but my corner’s all comforting me and i’m crying. So it was kind of a convoluted kind of emotional mess for me but yeah. It was a little bitter, i mean it was sweet to get my ufc win, but better because i had to defeat someone. I respect in that type of way in that fashion. Yeah for sure i could i mean i can only imagine, i’m like i’m a huge fan of joe lauzon, joe lauzon’s, ultimately the guy who who got me into the sport. So i could only imagine if i were to finish a guy like that who i looked up to how how that would feel um when people were talking about candidates for knockout of the year. I feel like yours was left out. I mean i left it out of my my ballots as well, and i i don’t know why, like you, do you feel like it was overlooked because i mean 22 second ko slam. You know if anybody else did that if that was a rampage, jackson knockout, you know people would be talking about it. Do you feel like yours was overlooked? Um some part of me feels like i was a little overlooked, but i’m happy to be in the running for debut of the year, which i believe jerry deserves um, undoubtedly, but i think it’s overlooked, but and there’s already some people who think like the ufc trying To create a hype train when i detest hype trade, so i’m like ah give me as little attention as you want, i feel like one nomination is plenty would have been nice to have two yeah for sure. I do think it’s a little overlooked, but you know there’s so many fighters. This year’s been a rough year for all of us, so i’m happy to share the attention the spotlight and i think it’s i think it’s totally fair. There are two type of people really going into 2020: those who kind of when the pandemic hit just kind of wrote the year off um and those who made an opportunity of it. I did that with myself. I started this podcast out of boredom, but to kind of blossom into something really really special. You were a great example of that i mean you, you went out there, you had four fights in 2020 and i think five in the calendar year, if you include the fight in december of last year, so so what was the mentality in 2020 or yeah right At the beginning of 2020 uh to stay busy, how did you, how did you kind of come up with the uh the idea of let’s get as many fights as uh as we can and uh? It obviously worked out for you. Well, that’s always been my attitude to try to be as active as possible. The problem was when i had so few fights. I had the hardest time finding opponents that wanted to sign to face me because they could see i had good grappling, they could see. I beat people that had seemingly a much more diverse skill set than me, so i think people a lot of opponents were waiting to see. Okay, let’s see where he is in these positions, so we can make a game plan. But as i got you know, three four five fights people really couldn’t say: well, there’s not enough info about this guy yeah. So this year i feel, like i finally passed that precipice, where it’s like. It is worth the risk of fighting me as opposed to when i was like one and two and three you know fighting an unknown wasn’t really worth the risk so 2020, just the year where it finally all started to mat 2020 finally fell into place for me, Because my opponents were like okay, this guy is like 5-0. Maybe we should it’s worth the risk. You know risk war, risk reward type of scenario, so i’ve always been ready. I’M always ready to hop right back into camp. I can make way on two weeks notice. Any time so 2020 was just the year of jumping on opportunities. I’Ve always been that type of fighter that was willing to jump into those opportunities. So a year later, now 2021 a lot’s changed. I mean before you were on the regional scene, just kind of hoping for an opportunity hoping for fights because, like you said, no one was willing to fight you now you’re in the ufc um. What’S your mentality going into this year, first things first and wait for my daughter to get here and after my daughter to get here, i’m gon na get that get situated because you never know how home life’s gon na be when an infant comes. So i’m gon na get situated there then, as soon as that situated, i feel comfortable. You know leaving home for a week or two. That’S when we’re all gon na try to schedule a fight, so hopefully i’ll be ready to go out there late march early to april, at the maybe like that’d, be like the golden zone, the goldilocks on my field, so i just want to get as many fights In as possible next year, maybe four or five four or five would be perfect. Then i have enough money to buy a house and just move on to the next stage. I wanted to ask about that. I mean fatherhood right around the right around the corner. Uh, that’s the end of january early february is when you’re uh expecting right. Yes, so you uh, what are the emotions? Are you excited? Are you nervous? What how are you feeling i’ve? I’Ve always wanted to be a dad, so i’m really excited not really nervous. I feel like i’ve always tried to live my life in a certain way that i have nothing to be ashamed of. When i met my children when i raised them, i’ve always tried to build like those fatherly qualities. So i feel like i’ve been preparing for this. For, like my whole life – and i feel like i’m really, i feel very ready for it. But of course a lot of people feel ready and then the baby gets here. But i’m just excited, i feel like a sense of purpose and belonging to the whole idea of being a father. I’M i can’t wait. I know this is probably a two three four years down the road but uh have you thought of maybe introducing them into the sport and getting them involved in mixed martial arts? Definitely grappling um, i teach i teach children’s jujitsu at syndicate and sometimes the four and five noodles they kind of melt. My heart, sometimes they’re, they’re heinous, because children at that age are heinous a lot of the times. But i you know sometimes when i see a little kid who can barely do a somersault can’t run in a straight line when i see them it kind of melts. My heart makes me excited to possibly see my kids out there, but this is a very you know. This can be a brutal sport depending on the type of fighter you try to be, and it would be really cool after i retire to maybe like mentor. My children into this sport, i want to turn them away from it, but i definitely don’t feel like this is a sport. You should push somebody into because there’s going to be a lot of heartbreak, there can be injuries and downs. It’S a roller coaster, but um. If they want to follow my footsteps, they will get no arguments from me. Um there’s a great example of a father-daughter bond right there in syndicate someone following in their father’s footsteps in bellamy: bellamir. What’S it like seeing her uh both grow and seeing her really blossom in 2020, she was one of the standout performers. I think i had her as uh number three or number four ranked uh breakout star of the year. Like rookie of the year i mean she’s. 17, she had, she went 2-0 um. She did very very well. So what’s it like seeing um seeing her uh development, it’s really. It’S been really special to see you. Our sport is so young that we don’t really have. We haven’t really gotten to seeing that dynamic. Very often between parent athlete and then child athlete, but like even just watching bella’s first fight – and you hear her dad look in the corner. He’S like this is what you love to do. This is what you’ve been waiting for. It kind of gets you all choked up. You know i can’t imagine how he felt you know or how she felt, but it’s very it’s really special to kind of see like the family affair thing coming into mma and to see her grow because she’s so young, when you’re that young you improve so quickly And so consistently, but yeah the sky’s the limit for her. It’S been super exciting to watch. Not only have one fight this year, but get two so 20 20’s been a really good year for her yeah, i mean even like the growth she had from the first fight to the second was, was so drastic. I mean she weathered an early storm in that. First fight, but she dominated that second fight, um, which i thought was really really impressive. Um. I think it’s just a testament to how great the coach there. John wood and cynic and mma is as a whole, and i kind of want to talk about syndicate because they kind of flew under the radar for a lot of people when they were ranking, gyms and and and whatnot. But i thought syndicate had a great year as well, so what’s the secret there at syndicate, i think the secret to sydney kit cannot really be reduced down to like one thing we do or one coach or one athlete. I think the atmosphere syndicate is something that a lot of athletes when they visit comment on and john wood is definitely a really big part of that he’s. A coach that he’ll never try to fit you into a mold, he kind of says. This is what i like to do and then, if that’s something that can apply it to you, he’ll help you with that, but he never tries to force you to grow a certain way and that’s very special to someone like me who i’m very unorthodox, but would Just basically feel like okay, so we’re gon na learn these basic things. So you have these in your toolbox, but you never tried to change me into a different type of fighter. He never tries to change anybody if you’re awkward. Let you stay awkward if you’re like a muscle, head type of fighter, let’s just say a muscle head, he just tries to help. You grow the way you’re supposed to grow and a lot of coaches lack that ability. So, john wood. Definitely you know i can’t. I can’t reduce it down to like one thing: he does, but he’s done a very good job at building an atmosphere at a gym which feels welcoming and fosters growth among the fighters. I want to talk a little bit about that about um, not just your fighting style but but your character, and i feel like one thing you and and some of the other people at syndicate, especially roxanne um. The thing that stands out most is positivity and i think right now in the sport of mma, people are like people gravitate towards negativity or people who are angry, like the diaz brothers or colby, or so on and so forth. How do you stay positive, and how do you like keep that that attitude of just just being positive all the time? I think it’s it’s rare, especially in this sport and uh? What is it about uh people there at syndicate that really keep them positive in a negative sport? Almost i think, it’s very easy to keep a positive um attitude at sydney, especially because roxanne is one of only two people there that have been there longer than i than i have, and i’ve been there for eight years so and that in the fight game, a Lot of fighters are moving in and out traveling the world you miss out on family moments. You get to really traumatic support for a lot of people. You make a lot of sacrifices and i feel like that pain can make someone bitter um and just like it causes a lot of anger and negativity to grow in you, because things definitely don’t go your way, 100 of the time, but at syndicate you know, we’ve Been very lucky that we have a bunch of people who have a positive outlook on things, and we just we’re very aware of that, and wood will constantly every every time after practice like this force, full of downs, downs, downs, downs and then one up and then Downs, you know and we have roxy who’s very positive she’s, a really big light at our gym, a very great role model for younger fighters like myself, especially when i was 18 19 just starting there. I, when i first started watching mma, i thought i would have to play a character that wasn’t like genuine to who i was. I thought i have to be like this tough alpha male type person and maybe some a millennial and our generation’s a little bit more forgiving of ins of being eccentric and everything. But when i saw roxanne wayne and cosplay and how she’ll never cuss in interviews now she doesn’t do trash talk. It gave me a lot of hope and that i could stay this positive um. I guess i could continue to be this positive person and not try to act like this tough jerk, because i’m not, i find i believe i have a really good attitude about life, i’m very positive. I don’t bring in a monster sheet into this sport. It’S just a fist fight, we don’t have to hate each other to get in the fist fight. If you have brothers or best friends, you haven’t, beat them even beat each other up inside the lawn. I mean that’s how i grew up. Fist fights don’t have to be this hateful thing and indicate we’re very positive yeah. I like that uh and i mean i think, a lot of people overlook it. Uh roxanne, i mean she’s done so much for the sport she’s a true pioneer and uh i mean i, i really like her. I think she’s um, her personality is really really special in this sport. There’S not a lot of people like her john dodson’s. Another great example um people who just themselves doesn’t really matter what people think and it’s nice to see. It really is um i’d like to ask about the celebration afterwards. I mean, i think a lot of people were talking about that. There’S pictures everywhere, there’s memes um. How long did you plan that is that something you’ve been planning for a while, like i want to do the dirty dancing scene when i win, or was that just spontaneous? So i’m one of those people that like when you have friends you like shoot the crap and like it’ll, be funny. If you did this and then like people usually move on from that and like as like a joke, i’m like what, if i just did, the dirty dancing lift after after i went like that, would be hilarious man, but, like i was thinking about it like. I was up at night and i’m like what, if i do that so like one day, i practice i’m like look at my teammate gerard, i’m like hey, you seen dirty dancing. He’S like i mean yeah. I guess i’m like you know the lift yeah. So we tried that a few times if you look back on instagram, maybe two months ago, there’s me and sarah trying to do it, and then we were backstage for my fight and i was there for like four hours early, because i was on the preliminary car. But then i moved up to the first fight in the main card last minute, so we are there forever and we’re getting bored and i’m like yo chris. Let’S practice this dirty dancing lifts, and i can’t imagine what the security guy that was like assigned to our corner was thinking. It was all jokes, we practiced the lift for like 25 minutes and then i stretched we warmed up. We didn’t mention like five. Five minutes tops and then i went out there and fought, but yeah. We were practicing that you know. We practiced that for like 20 minutes before the fight – and i still was not sure if i wanted to do it after the slam. But then after matt started to wake up and they announced it, i’m, like you know what screw it. Let’S do it and wait. You know, and i don’t regret it. It was. I definitely one of the highlights of my year. That was that was pretty funny. For me, do you plan on mixing it up next time, maybe doing like a scene of the from the titanic or something else, or are you just going to stick with that one ooh that’d be a good one. I’M flying, i could do something like i wan na. The split will always be there, but you know one time i twerked you know i just you know when you do the splits, like i’m kind of i got that thick dad bod type of build. So i kind of jiggle when i get out of the splits, i’m not sure if it’s really a twerk, but you know i’ve done a bow. I’Ve done the splits yeah. I try to the split and then i’ll do something different, maybe i’ll, maybe i’ll copy valentina’s victory, dance i’ll show her up. Who knows i like that? I, like that um you could do the gsp roll too, like the the um break, dancing role? Oh, i could do that. I’Ve done that before yeah i’ll, just like mimic, i’m like ditto, you know i’ll like mimic all these other fighters things i like that um i’ll, ask you one last question and then i’ll, let you go. There’S a big fight, title fight! Coming up in january, it is in your weight class, so i couldn’t go without asking one of the uh. I think the most famous uh mixed martial artist to ever compete inside the octagon conor mcgregor is returning facing dustin poirier um. Do you have a prediction for that fight um if it makes it out of the first round? I think dustin poirier all day. I believe i believe the diamond he’s just gritty. Tough, well-rounded, there’s no quit in him, especially at 155.. Um conor can knock him out. I feel, like that’s very easy, to see. Connor’S been working on his boxing a lot preparing for the pacquiao fight, so i think conor might be coming into this fight. Maybe a little overconfident because of the way he easily dispatched poirier but poirier is definitely a different animal when he’s not sucked up to make 45, and i think it was a bad move on his part to make the fight at 170., so i’m pulling for poirier. But you know never can count out mcgregor. He you know he’s a star and stars find ways to pull things out. So i love it um. Do you have any sponsors or uh anybody you’d like to plug, or even your social media, before we uh before we end this, the main sponsor like the vegas, so right because still writes awesome. It helps keep me like loose and not like. I feel like crap. All the time still right definitely helps me feel loose and healthy. During this sport, i want to thank iridium, my management team. There they’re the best in the world and then syndicate mma, like i can’t do it without them, and you want to follow me out on social media. You can follow me at monkeykingufc on instagram and mr jojo monkeyking on twitter. Alright. Thank you very much for the time man. I appreciate it. I uh especially new year’s eve. I mean there’s so many other things you could be doing and you’re sitting here talking to me so yeah. I appreciate it all the best all the best next month, with uh with the newborn and uh can’t wait to see you back out there all right. Thank you very much. It was nice talking to you all right man happy new year, happy new year. There you go: jordan levitt, i’ve been a fan of his for a very long time: um breakout star of 2020, if you haven’t yet be sure to like all my stuff and yeah check out fighterpath.com brand new up and running now got everything on there. So like comment and subscribe and i’ll see you guys

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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