Dustin Jacoby defeated Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC 272 on Saturday and is now 5-0-1 since his second stint in the UFC began.
Jacoby, now 17-5-1 as a professional, finds himself as the No. 15-ranked light heavyweight in the UFC following his unanimous decision victory over Oleksiejczuk. The “Hanyak” has turned his eyes to No. 13-ranked Ryan Spann as his desired next opponent.
“I think that’s a big jump getting past him and taking his spot,” Jacoby told MMASucka.
Jacoby said his goal is to be a top-10 light heavyweight by the end of the year. He hopes to return this summer for a big card in July against Spann, Jamahal Hill, or anyone else in front of him. Jacoby acknowledged Hill will likely want a top-10 opponent after he slept Johnny Walker in February. Spann is coming off a loss to Anthony Smith, who is Jacoby’s teammate.
Whoever Jacoby lands though, he know it will be a fan-friendly fight.
“That’s the cool thing about the top-15 in the light heavyweight division: There are a lot of guys that are willing to stand and trade with you,” Jacoby said. “They’re willing to go toe-to-toe and try to put each other out. That’s definitely my style of fight. There’s a lot of great match-ups with the 14 guys ahead of me, and I’m just looking to climb the ladder and get to the top-10.”
Dustin Jacoby Details Pre-Fight Injuries
While there are big cards in July each year for International Fight Week, Jacoby is also nursing injuries to a foot and both ankles. Jacoby admitted this past camp was brutal, as well as the reason he only got to throw two kicks the whole fight.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to completely use all of my weapons,” he said. “I also felt I was good enough everywhere else to get the job done. While my opponent was a very worthy opponent and very good, I did exactly what I thought I could do. And that was to edge out a victory against another tough opponent.”
Jacoby said his ankles were banged up following the John Allan fight from UFC 268 in November when he threw a lot of kicks. Then, about six weeks ago while he was training for Oleksiejczuk, he suffered a significant foot injury.
For the first time in his 12-year professional career, Jacoby contemplated pulling out of the fight. He could not walk well for at least five days. The thought weighed heavily on Jacoby, who could not run or jump rope during camp either, which he said are two of his keys to success.
“I had to dig deep. Like I told Joe Rogan, I had to nut up and get the job done.”
Jacoby tested a kick early on in the fight against Oleksiejczuk and said he caught his body at a weird angle. He did not throw another kick until the dying seconds of the bout.
“I definitely kind of banged my foot up [on the first kick]. I was like, ‘Man, this is why you can’t kick.’ I limited those kicks to what they were. At the end of the fight, I was like, ‘You know, here we are, it’s almost over. Just get one out there. Do what you’ve gotta do.’ That’s how it played out.”
As a kickboxer who spent a stint in Glory Kickboxing, kicking is a huge part of “The Hanyak’s” arsenal.
Digging Deep for the Win
Jacoby lost the first round of the Oleksiejczuk fight and went back to his corner. He told his coach he didn’t think the kicks were there. His coach told him to focus on his boxing and feints.
The advice worked as Jacoby stormed out of the gates early in the second and landed an uppercut hook on Oleksiejczuk that badly rocked him.
“I’m a finisher,” Jacoby said. “Killer instinct is one of my four horsemen. When I smell blood, I definitely go for it. I could tell I had him hurt. I dropped him, he went down and got up real quick. I told my coach, I could see it in [Oleksiejczuk’s] eye that he was ready to go. I just couldn’t find it. I didn’t give him that good reason to go. He was ready to go out.”
Jacoby got his foe against the cage and threw a couple of hard elbows, but Oleksiejczuk did not go down.
“I took a deep breath, and said, ‘Here we go man, this is exactly what we talked about. It’s time to settle in for the long haul and just nut up and do this,'” Jacoby said.
Jacoby took the second round handily after hurting Oleksiejczuk badly early in the frame. He was tired going back to the stool, though.
“I told my coach, ‘Man, I’m done. I don’t know how I’m going to fight this last round,’” Jacoby said. “He just reminded me, ‘You’re going to remember exactly what you just said, you’re going to remember this moment right here if you don’t go and get the job done. Look across from the cage and look at your opponent. Look at how tired he is. Get down there, find whatever it takes, and get the job done.’
“I was able to do that,” Jacoby continued. “I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I’m capable of winning a close fight, digging down, and doing what it takes. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Jacoby outboxed Oleksiejczuk in the third round and controlled him in the clinch late to take the third frame and the fight. The judges scored it 29-28 across the board for Jacoby.
Jacoby said he already physically feels better than he did before the Oleksiejczuk fight.
“I was so worried I would damage myself further and wouldn’t be able to take a fight for a while,” he said.
Now, he plans to focus on healing up and maybe get back to training sooner than expected. From there, he hopes a Dustin Jacoby vs. Ryan Spann bout is in his future.
He said being a newly-minted top-15 fighter is super exciting.
“I continue to climb that ladder, and I look forward to being even better my next time out.”
Featured Image credit:
Embed from Getty Images