Former LSU fullback savours second career in MMA
UFC fighters Cheick Kongo (right) and Shawn (The Savage) Jordan do battle during UFC 149 in Calgary, Alta., Sat., July 21, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:41PM EST
Shawn (The Savage) Jordan can't wait to erase the memory of his last fight.
The former LSU fullback was an injury replacement for Brazilian Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira against French heavyweight Cheick Kongo last July at UFC 149 in Calgary. The fight was contested mainly in the clinch at the fence, drawing boos from the crowd and criticism later from UFC president Dana White.
"This isn't the Ultimate Clinching Championship, it's the (Ultimate) Fighting Championship," said White, who also pointed the finger at Canadian referee Yves Lavigne for letting the fighters hang onto each other at the fence.
Savage, who lost by decision, didn't much like the fight either.
"I've had a dirty taste in my mouth since July," he said. "Facing Cheick Kongo, it was -- I guess -- a technical clinch match. But it was very boring and very frustrating for me as a fighter -- and for I'm sure the fans."
Kongo later pointed to shoulder dislocations during his training camp.
"If it makes him feel any better, I fought him eight weeks after shoulder surgery, so I don't want to hear it," the 28-year-old Jordan said with a laugh.
"When (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva called my manager and offered the fight to me, it's one of those situations where you can't say no. We're here to fight, we're here to compete. ... It's kind of hard to say no, regardless what condition you're in.
"I thought I was in good shape before the fight, in terms of cardio and all that. Physically I figured I could hold up long enough to finish the fight."
Jordan (13-4) takes on Chicago police officer Mike Russow (15-2 with one no contest) on Saturday on a televised card at Chicago's United Center. Demetrious (Mighty Mouse) Johnson defends his flyweight title against John (The Magician) Dodson in the main event.
On the undercard, T.J. Grant of Cole Harbour, N.S., meets lightweight (Handsome) Matt Wiman.
A former blocking fullback and special teams player at LSU, Jordan has made a career out of hitting people.
"That's what I do. That's my job," he said. "I enjoyed running through the hole and blasting holes for running backs and letting them get all the glory and I get all the gruntwork."
At LSU, he cleared the way for the likes of Joseph Addai, Justin Vincent, Alley Broussard, Charles Scott and Jacob Hester. He set several school weight-lifting records including a bench press of 610 pounds.
The five-foot-11 250-pounder graduated after helping the Tigers win the national championship in January 2008.
"Great memories and a lot of great friendships," he said of his time at LSU.
He also left with degrees in kinesiology and chemistry.
Jordan was a state wrestling champion at high school but, along with brothers Joshua, Jamie and Jeremy, had always been a fan of MMA growing up. "It was fun to watch. We'd always re-enact what we were seeing."
The boys come big in the Jordan family. Jamie is the lightest at 230.
"I may be the widest," said Shawn.
He was 180 pounds in Grade 4 and 240 pounds in Grade 8.
The roughhousing continued at college, this time with linemen -- some of whom suggested he should take up fighting after football.
"When got done, I just tried it and fell in love with it."
Jordan has come a long way in a short time. He made his pro MMA debut in Bellator in May 2009 and went on to fight five times that year and six times in 2010.
He won nine of those 11 fights, with only eight making it past the first round.
He made the move to Strikeforce in 2012, losing to Devin Cole on two days notice before defeating Lavar Johnson, and the UFC in 2012, celebrating his Octagon debut by knocking out Britain's Oli Thompson.
Jordan says he still have a long way to go.
"I feel like I've just cracked the surface of what I'm going to learn and how much I'm going to be able to improve," he said.
Jordan prepared for the Russow fight for more than eight weeks at American Top Team in Florida. He normally trains at Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque but Travis Browne, his main training partner, was injured so there were no heavyweights in action at the gym.
He had been planning to go to ATT to do some grappling work and decided to do his whole camp there after learning he was up against Russow, a former junior college All-American wrestler.
"I'm having a good time and learning a lot," Jordan said. "They're very, very welcoming so I've enjoyed my time here."
While in Florida, he got to train with Steve Mocco, a former NCAA champion and Olympic wrestler who has just launched an MMA career.
Mocco and his coaches from Jackson's will corner him for the Russow fight.
Jordan started working with noted trainer Greg Jackson prior to the Johnson bout, putting some of his side jobs on hold to focus on fighting. But he still works with a cattle company every now and then, to make a little money on the side.
"Just work," he laughed. "Some man work."
He's not making much money as cage-fighter but says he likes what he does and doesn't have many expenses at this stage in his life.
"Times get rough sometimes between fights. You're trying to manage your money until your next fight. But the more you do it, the further you get along. it becomes a little easier and you make more money doing it."
Home is Baton Rouge these days for the Texas native. "But I seem to be living in gyms more than home," he said.
Jordan will be the outsider Saturday, fighting Russow on his home turf. But he says his football background has prepared him well.
"Playing in the SEC ... We used to run onto the field and have people booing you -- and throwing oranges at you in Florida. I'm pretty used to being the villain, the underdog."
He will be the only person in the Windy City with a licence to go after a Chicago cop.
"I have no ill will towards police officers," he noted. "I'm glad that they're there to protect us. But he's a competitor and we're here to compete against each other."
Russow, 36, is coming off a first-round TKO loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 147 in Brazil.