Dustin Jacoby (18-6-1 MMA, 6-3-1 UFC) will look to rebound from the first UFC loss of his second stint with the promotion and look to snatch the ‘0’ of Amazat Murzakanov (12-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at UFC Kansas City on Saturday, April 15.
Jacoby said Murzakanov is a “very tough opponent,” pointing to his undefeated record and 10 finishes, 9 of which are via T/KO.
“He’s just a really explosive, aggressive fighter,” Jacoby told MMASucka. “The advantages I believe are pretty evident are my height and reach advantages over him. I think I can keep him at the end of my punches and really dictate the pace and the range of the fight by utilizing what I’m good at. I’m a pretty good striker myself. It’s going to be a good little battle, man. I think he’s a very tough opponent. He has my full attention. I’m looking forward to going in there, beating him and continuing to climb the ladder toward the top of the division.”
Murzakanov is known for his explosive actions, as evident by his flying knee KO over Tafon Nchukwi in a fight he appeared to be slowing down in before the third-round finish. Murzakanov also defeated Devin Clark via Round 3 ground and pound in his subsequent UFC foray.
Jacoby said he has to remain aware of the danger that Murzakanov brings to the table.
“He’s really quick, he has a lot of power, especially early on,” he said. “His best chance to catch me is early in the fight. Round 1 and a little bit through Round 2. But the one disadvantage he does have also, I believe, is the cardio. I think my cardio is really good. I’m in great, terrific shape right now. And I think he tends to gas a little bit and fade a little bit as the fight goes on, and I’ll really take that into consideration and use my cardio advantage to put it on him in the later rounds.”
Jacoby feels he “absolutely” has the edge in technical striking. He had a kickboxing career in the midst of his MMA career, sandwiching several Glory Kickboxing bouts between his UFC stints. There, Jacoby went up against the likes of former UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira, Michael Duut, Simon Marcus, Karl Roberson, Tony Lopez and Casey Greene.
“I think I’m one of the cleanest strikers in the UFC,” Jacoby said. “But I’ll tell you what: Amazat is a dog. He fights hard, he fights down, and that technicality can go out the window real quick with somebody who just wants to take your head off. While I believe I’ll be a cleaner striker, I have to be ready to get into a little bit of a dogfight and ready for war.”
Jacoby holds a 5-inch height advantage and a 7-inch reach edge over Murzakanov, and he is the more experienced of the two. “The Hanyak” said his cardio will be the big X-factor should the fight go past the halfway point.
“He comes hard, he comes fast, and he’s certainly a threat in the first couple of rounds,” Jacoby said. “I’ve just got to use that to my advantage and fight a little bit smarter. I can’t just go in there guns blazing, because you have to respect the power he possesses and take this fight into deep waters. I’m expecting the worst, and if I catch him early, I’m hoping for the best. It’s going to be a hard fight and I’m looking forward to it.”
Jacoby was riding a seven-fight undefeated streak since his October 2020 return to the UFC, going 6-0-1 with wins over the likes of Da Un Jung, Michal Oleksiejczuk, Darren Stewart and Maxim Grishin. He fought Khalil Rountree in October and lost a split decision where many thought Jacoby had done enough to win – “The Hanyak” included.
“I think a lot of people had thought I won that fight except the three judges sitting ringside that night,” he said. “The most frustrating part about that fight is Round 2 was my best round. I clearly won that, and one of the judges gave it to Rountree, which ultimately was the deciding factor in that fight. It was very unfortunate, but I am hungry to get back in the win column, man. I had to put that one behind me, just because you can’t dwell on things you can’t control. It’s already happened and over with. In order for me to continue climbing to the top of the division and keep pushing toward the top, I need to let that one go. And I have. It’s super frustrating, but I’ve fully moved on, and I’m looking forward to the match-up with Azamat next Saturday.”
Jacoby and Rountree share an official No. 13 ranking in the light heavyweight division as of Tuesday.
“That tells you right there they don’t believe I lost that fight. Unfortunately, I got paid like I lost that fight that night, but I was able to sign a new contract with the UFC. I think they rewarded me as if I had won that fight. I still had a nice bump up on pay. So this will be the first fight on my new deal. I’ve got to go out there and prove they aren’t wrong. Prove they invested wisely. Soon, hopefully, the chips begin to play out, I get into the top-10, and I work my way toward, ultimately, that title fight.”
Jacoby ultimately gleaned some lessons from the loss to Rountree. He said he didn’t overlook Rountree, but he did not give him his full respect.
“I think a couple of comments I made prior to the fight, that, ‘I think he quits,’ and ‘he tends to fade,’ and ‘mentally he isn’t that strong,’ I think he really took that to heart,” Jacoby said. “I felt him fading away in that second round and me completely taking over. In the third round, he came out pretty strong. He had this extra little bit of motivation I think he got from me. I gave him some ammo. That’s something I learned moving forward. Just be a little bit quieter and not so much open about how I feel. And don’t overlook him. Again, I didn’t necessarily overlook him, I just didn’t quite give him the full respect he deserves. Someone like Amazat has my full attention, man. It’s just a learning curve, that, even this late in my career, it’s something that’s never really happened before as far as talking a little bit beforehand and making the best come out of that guy. I’ve just got to watch that moving forward. I’ve learned from that. Amazat has my full attention.”
Jacoby said he “100%” sees his hands getting raised after his fight with Murzakanov, but he doesn’t know if it will come by finish or by decision.
“As I always say, you get toward the top of the division, you get in the top-15, and every single person is extremely tough. It’s really hard to win in any way. I think it’s even harder to get a finish at the highest level … With the DraftKings and betting platforms out there, everyone’s like, ‘Man, we need a second-round knockout!’ or ‘What are you thinking? First round TKO?’ Dude, just bet the win. Just bet on me to win, because you know how many times in that little six, seven-fight run I had where my boys came up like, ‘Dude, I lost money! It wasn’t a first-round knockout!’ I was like, ‘Dude, just bet the win and collect the paycheck.'”
UFC Kansas City is set to go down from the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Jacoby and Murzakanov are penciled in for the main card in a slate being headlined by a featherweight match-up between Max Holloway and Arnold Allen.
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