Optimism, Ambition Drive Jordan Mein into Woodley Fight

In a lot of ways, Jordan Mein sounds like your typical 22 year old Canadian. He is brimming with optimism, rarely going more than a few sentences without chuckling. He’s got a lot to smile about these days, riding a six fight winning streak that has seen him go from fighting in small Alberta towns to the bright lights of Strikeforce where he is set to fight the undefeated and self-proclaimed number-one welterweight contender Tyron Woodley. That fight will happen on the undercard of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine on January 7th.

The results he’s produced combined with his tender age have caused some to label him an “overnight sensation”. But to hear Mein tell it, his current run is based on a lifetime of work and a childhood passion for the sport that more and more youngsters are finding these days.

“I started really young, I had my first pro fight at 16 and was fighting amateur before that. I started with jiu-jitsu tournaments, kickboxing tournaments. We did a little bit of sport jiu-jitsu which was striking, standing and then takedowns with grappling on the ground. So that was like MMA for kids then. Then that evolved into me going for amateur MMA fights around Canada, travelling around Alberta and Saskatchewan. Now you’re starting to see much younger kids who are just strictly doing MMA, which is a real strong point. [Training] everything off the bat. Learning all the techniques and fighting rather than thinking just wrestling or just thinking boxing. An overall fight is a lot different than one specific area.”

 
When asked what his life would be like without MMA, he laughs openly. It is as if the thought had genuinely never occurred to him.

“I’d be a mess I think. I’d be sitting on the couch getting fat. Probably taking that to the extreme. I don’t really think about it that much, I just focus on what I’m doing. I don’t really know where I’d be at, I don’t really know what I’d be doing. I’m really thankful that I have MMA to keep me in line.”

“All my friends play hockey and they’re still trying to get me to strap on some skates and go play with them. I just stay on the bench and coach. But I think I just stuck with MMA because I started it so young. It was always my passion, I loved watching all the Bruce Lee movies, loved everything about fighting and I just kind of stuck with it and never got into anything else.”

His career didn’t start with Mein setting the world on fire. He went 3-4 in his first seven fights, hardly the mark of a can’t-miss prospect. But according to Mein, it was all part of the learning curve.

“I took a few fights short notice, I was just trying to get experience, get as many fights as I could and see what I could do. It sucks that it’s on your record as losses, but I definitely learned from all of them. They helped me to be where I am right now.”

Indeed it’s hard to argue with the path Mein finds himself on. After building his resume to an acceptable level, he was offered bigger name opponents such as Joe Riggs, Josh Burkman and Marius Zaromskis. With wins over all three, it was then that Strikeforce came calling.

“I think I just had to get some wins to get those [bigger name opponents]. I was still fighting some decent guys around Canada, my training was at where I needed it to be and finally I got the opportunity to fight bigger names and those names get you a little more recognition. Strikeforce got a hold of my Dad, they had a few offers for me. A few matches fell through, finally the Cyborg fight came up and we jumped on it.”

After his TKO victory over Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, Strikeforce opted to pit two fledgling prospects against each other and match up Mein against Woodley. Mein speaks with the wisdom of a veteran as he talks about modifying his training for Woodley’s attack.

“I’ve been thinking a lot differently [for the fight], working on being light on my feet and moving lots. He’s obviously a really strong wrestler so we’ve been working on a lot of things off of my back. Little tweaks here and there and obviously cardio is a big issue because he’s going to push it hard for three rounds and I hope to do the same. Fight him the whole time and try to get him as tired as possible, then get a finish.”

Talent and dedication have brought him this far, but it is ambition that drives him to go further. Whether it means his immediate future after the Woodley fight a long-term goal of fighting under the UFC banner.

“I think [beating Woodley] puts me right at the top. I’ve seen him run through lots of guys in Strikeforce so hopefully I can get a win out of him then I can get even more recognition and be at the top of the welterweight division. All I want is more hard fights coming my way. I think a win would give that to me.”

“I’d love to get on an even bigger stage, with even more fans watching. It’s definitely a goal I’ve had in mind for a long time. But I’m definitely very happy in Strikeforce right now and I’d love to keep fighting for them. If they offered me another contract, I’d like to stay with them. It doesn’t really matter to me as long as I’m getting tested with lost of fights and I’m staying active. I love fighting as much as I can and as long as I’m healthy I’d [keep going].”

Having too much success too soon is always a concern for professional athletes. Up until his victory over Machida, Dana White worried publicly about what would happen to Jon Jones for having so much, so early in his career. When asked if it’s difficult to remain humble, Mein laughs again.

“No, because I get my ass kicked in the gym. I just try to keep it cool and once I get my ass kicked in the gym I just think about that and say ‘alright, let’s keep going and get better’. It’s a little trippy but it’s progress, that’s the way it goes. If you’re getting better and getting wins, that’s the way it should be. You’re always moving towards a bigger, better show. The best goal is obviously UFC and Strikeforce and I’m achieving most of my goals right now.”

With his rapidly developing and evolving skill set, it’s hard to imagine a limit on Mein’s potential in the sport. When asked where he sees himself in a year from now, he gives a succint quip that belies not only his youthful exuberance but his inner ambitions as well.

“I’ll be 23 and hopefully five or six more W’s on my record.”

That journey starts on January 7th.

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