Jason Norwood will get a chance to earn another belt to his collection. He’s set to fight Jeremiah Wells for the vacant CES welterweight title at CES 52.
Norwood (18-5), a former middleweight champion of American Heroes and welterweight champion of Freestyle Cage Fighting, wants to add CES to the list.
“CES would definitely be the most important and notable for my career,” Norwood, 34, told MMASucka.
The chance for CES gold actually happens to be Norwood’s second in a row. He lost his last bout to Chris Curtis via unanimous decision for the welterweight strap. Curtis went on to win a fight on the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series via highlight reel finish, but surprisingly did not earn a contract.
The loss was Norwood’s CES debut and snapped a three-fight winning streak. His body of work appears enough to have earned him another crack at the strap, much to Norwood’s delight.
“I was so happy about that. I figured I’d have to go back from the ground up and fight my way back,” he said. “To have another opportunity is such a great blessing for me and I’m thankful CES is giving it to me.”
His opportunity will come against Wells (5-1), who’s entering the bout on a two-fight winning streak. Norwood said he’s trying to approach the bout with the same mindset he always does: know what he can do, know what his opponent can do and prepare for the random variable. But Wells comes with a twist.
“[Wells] is the personification of the random variable,” Norwood said. “I like the match-up. It makes me have to think. Simultaneously, he’s not prepared to do with what I bring to the table. His randomness won’t provide him what he wants.”
We Leave No One Behind
Norwood is an active member of the United States military and is currently stationed at Fort Hood, TX. He was commissioned from West Point in 2006 and served in Iraq from 2008-2010.
Norwood’s status as a military member is near and dear to him, and is part of his motivation as a mixed martial artist. One of his reasons for fighting is to draw eyeballs to his nonprofit We Leave No One Behind. The organization works with the Killeen Police Department and their first responders to provide options for active military members or veterans experiencing duress.
Per the organization’s “about us” page,
“We have teamed up and coordinated with our local law enforcement to be another resource for them to assist Veterans in crisis they respond to on calls. When the officer has assessed the situation for safety and to determine if the Veteran is in need of immediate care, the officer calls our hotline if the Veteran is willing to talk to someone. We are briefed and respond to the location. After we arrive, the officer is released from the call and can continue to respond to the long list of calls across the city.”
Essentially, if Killeen police respond to a call regarding a veteran and an arrest is not a necessity, they’ll call Norwood’s hotline. The organization will send Norwood or a counselor who can relate to the veteran. They’ll try to talk to them and deescalate the situation. The organization has gotten 17 calls since October 2016, and 14 of those have been cases where the military member has been suicidal.
“We haven’t lost a person yet,” Norwood said. “I know at some point in time I’m going to lose one of these guys, I won’t be able to do anything about it, and I’ll die a little inside. More often than not, the calls are distress and distraught. The spouse, sometimes it’s the mom, is seeing a spiraling happen to the veteran or service member that they can’t connect with. It’s not that they don’t want to be connected: they can’t. We can talk to them about those things and we can connect on that level.”
Norwood’s nonprofit and the fact he enjoys fighting are two reasons why he competes. But the third is for his two daughters. They witness the hard work he does as evidenced by him waking up early in the morning and returning home late and exhausted on their behalf; the money he earns fighting goes directly to them.
“That ingratiates me as a good father and there’s nothing I want to be more than a good dad,” he said.
Norwood is hoping a CES title win will mark the start of bigger and better things for him in his MMA career. He’s fought in Bellator a couple of times years back–under the Bjorn Rebney era–but that hasn’t stuck. He’s since compiled an impressive record under solid regional promotions. But he wants to make it to a national organization and win a world title there.
“Everyone wants more,” he said. “A bigger promotion means a bigger platform to talk about what I want to talk about.”
Whether that’s the UFC, Bellator, or ONE Championship doesn’t matter to “Righteous.” As long as the organization pays him well and puts a great opponent in front of him, he’s satisfied.
“Give me an international platform to showcase what it is I do and pay me money for it,” Norwood said. “The money I make, I’m doing good things with it anyway. A check signed by Zuffa is just the same to me as a check signed by Bellator.”
A win against Wells for the CES welterweight title would be a giant step in that direction. Norwood predicts that he’ll finish Wells via knockout in the third or fourth round.
CES 52 goes down on Friday, August 17 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA. The card can be viewed on AXS TV.
Norwood asked to give a shoutout to his sponsors, Go Earn It, Headblade and Doc Steve.