Bellator 137’s Jordan Parsons: “[Neves Jr.] is going to see what hard work really looks like”

61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565One of the best kept secrets in Bellator’s featherweight division, Jordan “Pretty Boy” Parsons looks to replicate his successful promotional debut last year, as he faces off with undefeated Brazilian Julio Cesar Neves Jr at Bellator 137 next Friday. Parsons (10-1) got involved in MMA after his wrestling aspirations came to a halt in his senior year of highschool. “I had a disappointing state run in wrestling.” Parsons told MMAOddsBreaker. “I got kind of frustrated with it. I still planned on [wrestling] in college. But I found this little gym that was close to the town that I lived in. I just decided to check that out. I’m not going to say this in the greatest way, but I was also getting into street fights and stuff. I just loved fighting, I was like ‘I might as well try this out’. I always watched the WEC fights on Versus every night, they were on all the time back when that channel was around. [After] the first day I fell in love with it.” At the beginning of his MMA career, Parsons earned his nickname “Pretty Boy” when one of the coaches decided to poke fun at his attire heading into practice. “I was still in high school at the time, about 17 years old. I would always dress up for school and I would wear that outfit to the gym. I had just gotten my ears pierced so I just during the warmup I wouldn’t take them out. Eventually the coach just started calling me that, giving me flack for it and it stuck.” Parsons grew up in North Dakota and moved to Michigan when he was 8 years old. While he was getting antiquate MMA training, he knew that if he wanted to progress his career, he’d need to find training elsewhere. It was then he decided to move to Minnesota, his grandmother lived there so the move wouldn’t make him feel like a complete stranger. Being in Minnesota ended up proving to be a crucial point in his development, as he ended up working with Greg Nelson – Brock Lesnars old MMA coach – at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. “He was huge to be honest. I met Greg and we kind of clicked. He started showing me that there was more than what I was doing. I always worked hard, I was in the weight room, running and doing all the cardio stuff. Doing what I can, kind of learning from the people that were around me. Watching Youtube videos, back in the day. It was kind of hard [to learn new things], especially around the area where I was, you really didn’t find too much. So Greg just showed me about jiu-jitsu, striking and showed me that there’s a whole other level. He showed me a lot of the aspects outside of the game, just a different thought process.  He was my first real mentor I’d say.” It was there at The Minnesota Martial Arts Academy he had a chance to train with Bellator welterweight fighter Paul Bradley. Once again, Parsons felt like he wanted to take his training to the next level. Bradley convinced Parsons to move out to California with him and train at  the prestigious Alliance MMA gym in San Diego. While he was thankful for the time he had in Minnesota, Alliance allowed him to elevate his skillset even more. “The biggest difference [between the two gyms] was really just having a whole plethora of guys to work with. Having [speciality] coaches, striking, grappling and having a strength and conditioning coach, having a whole well-rounded system. Greg was an amazing coach, but it was less guys in there. Not everybody felt the same as to be in the room all the time. Some days the room would be really small and you don’t really run into that here.” So far his career choices have paid off. The 24-year old has amassed an impressive 10-1 record and he’s currently on a three fight win streak. Unfortunately his momentum was halted after he tore his meniscus during Bellator debut last year and he hasn’t competed inside the cage since April 2014. For most fighters, being on the sidelines for that long can be detrimental to a young fighter. However having a mentor in his camp like former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz – who has endured his own share of injuries throughout his career -proved to be a big help during that period. “Nobody likes to be injured, especially when I thought I was only going to be out for a couple of weeks, then they woke me up and told me it was going to be closer to a year . That was kind of hard to take at the beginning, sitting around on the coach. I’m a really active guy I like to do stuff all the time. Not being able to move very much, being immobilized, was kind of rough. And being far away from my family, that was kind of tough. But having people like [Cruz] around, to always keep you up and to show you that it’s not the end of the world. I’m a young guy, I’m only 24 years old now. And realistically I got to learn a lot in the time off. It doesn’t even feel like there was that time off at this point, it’s kind of like a benefit I’d say. Gave me a chance to slow things down and learn, and not have to rely on my athleticism so much. Picking up skills.” Financially the time off was also a major burden. Parsons couldn’t make a living in the cage, so he needed to find a second job to keep his finances a float. However as he explains, it made him appreciate his fighting career that much more. “I just ended up getting a job at a bar just working at nights then training during the day. Nobody really likes doing that, you kind of run yourself down. You have to do those types of things when it comes down to it. You have to make payments for your rent, you have to provide for yourself. I just take it as a life lesson.  Take it as part of the grind on the way up. If you have everything right away, it’s not really a challenge. I’ve grown up learning the hard way, so I kind of enjoyed it.” As he makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday night, Parsons faces off with a fellow prospect in featheweight Neves Jr. who boasts an impressive 30-0 record.  Parsons can relate to the mindset of his Brazilian foe, as he amassed an impressive 7-0 record early in his career before losing to Lazar Stojadinovic in 2012. “I was undefeated at a certain point too.” Parsons explained “I thought nothing could touch me, he seems to kind of been feeling like that at this point. I mean when you get your hand raised 30 times in a row that’ll build your confidence up. You got to give a respect to a person like that because in MMA anything can happen and he’s managed to go without him having that happen throughout his career. I’m pretty excited that I can – take something from him. I really like hurting people and – he’s  been getting on my Twitter and my Instagram and stuff, saying things here and there that basically he’s going to beat me. I can’t  have that.” Stylistically fans should be in store for a very exciting match up. Between the two fighters they have a combined 22 career knockouts. However a big difference in their careers as Parsons explains has been the level of competition. The American believes Neves Jr. will be in for a rude awakening. “He doesn’t really have many high level fights. He’s 30-0 but I think like 15 of them were in Brazil in one year. You not going to fight 15 tough opponents in a year. What I’ve really seen he likes get kind of fancy on the feet.  All I’ve really [saw is that] he landed against his last opponent Poppies Martinez like a spinning back kick to the body. After that Poppies kind of gave up. I never really seen anyone give him any kind of pressure or going forward. He kind of thrives on just being the man and people being worried about him. Versus having to worrying about an opponent. I’m just going to say that he’s going to realize a whole other level. He’s going to see there are other levels to competition and he hasn’t even reached midway yet. He’s going to see what hard work really looks like, I’m going to assume he’s training even hard as I am, but at the same time I don’t think there are many people who work as hard as I do. ” Despite both these fighters being two of the younger combatants on the Bellator roster, this matchup could have potential title implications. With Bellator’s decision to cut back events, release fighters and the promotion currently going an influx with their roster, this match up is a huge opportunity for both fighters. Should Parsons emerge victorious on Friday night, he’s unsure of what’s next for him but he is certain he’ll earn a top flight opponent in his next time out. “I’d say [after defeating a 30-0 fighter] you can’t go back down from that. I let my management pick my fights, I’m never been one really to pick a fight. I’m just looking to get in there and get into some real scraps.  To me it’s like the higher the competition, the better I preform. I don’t really try not to look past anyone at this point as far as looking at a title shot, that’s obviously that’s the goal. I’m looking within the next year or so that I can get at least in that position to think about getting a shot at the title. Before my fights I don’t ever try to look past an opponent, I did that one time and I got knocked out and I’ll never do that again.” You can follow Jordan on Twitter @PrettyBoyMMA_JP 

Written by James Lynch

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