Welcome! Let me take you on a journey, an experience that you won’t forget! I recently had the opportunity to talk to one of MMA’s most unique personalities, a guy that is so different from the average guy; that by the end of the conversation, I was simply blown away. I’m talking about the man, the myth, the barefoot running legend; “The Monkey King” Jordan Leavitt!
Now now, I’m not calling him a legend just yet. Not at all! I’m just trying to do such a one of a kind type of guy justice, with a fantastic intro. “The Monkey King” is really as humble, and down to earth as they come, with interests as diverse as New York City. Let’s jump right in!
So how has life been for you, living amidst this global pandemic? Describe how it’s changed your life, and training, if it has at all. What’s been the biggest challenge that the pandemic has presented in your life? Has anything good, come out of the bad?
Jordan Leavitt: “Interesting enough, 2020 has been the best year of my life. My wife got pregnant, I won two fights, and then I won a UFC contract. It’s amazing considering that we all lost at least 3 months due to the lockdowns.
The down time was actually extremely helpful. It helped me fix my diet and heal up some nagging injuries. I was still drilling (illegally) at the park with various people to get some work in. The whole convert training thing was/is pretty strange.”
Wow, So cool! Do you want to elaborate on the whole “park training”, because that’s such an awesome story.. also, “The Monkey King” is a unique nickname, fit for such a unique guy. Fans might not know that you lead an extremely active life; reading a 100 books a year, being a political campaigner and even an avid barefoot runner. what made you get into running barefoot, and how often do you do this? Also, how do you balance the many responsibilities of your life?
Jordan Leavitt: “After about a month of eating and relaxing, several others and myself decided to do crossfit circuits, mitt work, and sparring at the park. Sometimes people would give us dirty looks because we weren’t social distancing but a man’s gotta train.
Yeah, I love my nickname. My friends gave it to me in middle school after watching “The Forbidden Kingdom”. The Monkey King’s playful manner and unassuming deadliness was a big part of the nickname sticking.
I’ve always been pretty active in my community, I’ve volunteered in a few political campaigns from my senior year until about last year. My friends were always involved and their interest was contagious.
The barefoot running thing all started when one day I decided I wanted to run a marathon. One of my friends parents told me that if I could run 11 miles that upcoming Saturday that I’d be able to jump into a program to prepare for one.
So I tried to run 11 miles… which is hard if you don’t have a running background. I got about 6 miles in and took off my shoes to walk around a bit. I started jogging and realized I liked it and I never looked back. If I can run barefoot, I do.”
Let’s flashback to your fight with Luke Flores on DWCS 27, What were your feelings leading into that fight? Were you nervous? Excited? Elaborate on the emotions you had run-up to that fight, and tell us how it felt when you learned that you secured that contract! Was your gameplan to get the fight to the ground and get the sub? Or did the fight just lead you there?
Jordan Leavitt: “I felt like I had a mantle of peace over me before my fight with Luke Flores. Just getting the call to be on the contender series was enough validation. I always knew I could hang with the big boys, I just had to wait for my reality to catch up with my potential. Everything went exactly according to plan. We drilled the low single, to the back take, to the arm triangle. It’s a rare occurrence, having everything go according to plan. When I won the contract I felt a decade of emotion hit me. I had attained my goal. Everything I had experienced in this journey was worth it. Everyone that doubted me would have to find another thing to fixate on. I felt like the world heaviest barbell was lifted off my shoulders.”
So, coming into this fight against Matt Wiman, how are you expecting him to approach this fight? Have you been working on things in a camp specifically for him? Or do you take the “he should be worried about me” approach; and focus on polishing your skills where you and your coaches see fit?
Jordan Leavitt: “I’m not gonna lie. I was a fan of Matt Wiman when I first started watching MMA. I watched his fight with Cole Miller on repeat. That being said, I feel like my opponents are in a bit of a quagmire. I haven’t had to show my striking. I didn’t land a punch until my 5th pro fight. I imagine that Matt will be planning to either keep it on the feet and beat me up or hold me against the cage and grind me out. I doubt he will be able to stop my takedowns, but part of me hopes he does. I’d love to show off my striking a little bit… or be the first person to submit Mr. Handsome Matt.”
The first guy to submit Matt Wiman, that’s got a ring to it! As far as your striking goes, we really haven’t seen much of it! Tell me, do you think it’s on par with your grappling? Because we already know that you’re a complete monster on the mat! Also, Between the 100 books a year reading, barefoot running, and political campaigning; which hobby do you love the most, and why? Also, if you’d like; describe how you see the fight with Wiman playing out if you could have it go 100% your way.
Jordan Leavitt: “My striking is incredibly awkward. My teammates often comment on my defense and my shot selection. My dirty boxing is high class and I feel comfortable anywhere. I enjoy nothing more than reading a nice Stephen King novel while cuddling my wife as she’s watching her YouTube videos. It’s the closest to Heaven I’ve been. My fight would be perfect if I can go out there; push him back to the cage, land some kung fu kicks, and make him try to take me down. Everyone panics once they realize just how hard I am to hit.”
So! There you have it folks! There was more said behind the scenes, but it essentially consisted of me fan-boying out over how awesome of a guy Jordan Leavitt is! He also said something in response that really struck me: “…I’m happy to be competing in a sport where people can be unique, and not have to become carbon copies of each other.”
Such a one of a kind, and true sentiment. The world of Mixed Martial Arts really is home to some of the most colorful personalities. Good, and bad. I’m just grateful that Jordan Leavitt gave me the time of day! I messaged him from an account with not even 40 followers, and not only did he read my message; he accepted my pleas for an interview, and even THANKED ME for it! Words really can’t describe the type of humble and generosity that this man possesses! So, join me this Saturday in rooting for Jordan Leavitt; when he fights Matt Wiman at UFC Vegas 16!
Also, make sure to give Jordan Leavitt a follow on his social media accounts!
Featured Photo Credits to Jordan Leavitt’s Instagram
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