Off the back of his successful Bellator debut against Tim Bazer back in 2014, young Alliance MMA prospect Jordan Parsons was set to make his return to competition against rising Brazilian star Julio Cesar Neves. Largely expected to be fodder for the 29-0 Brazilian, ‘Pretty Boy’ pulled off a huge upset. With a dominating performance culminating in an arm triangle finish late in the third round. He spoke to us in the aftermath of his victory.
So I hear you’re back in Michigan at the moment, just enjoying some downtime before you get back to it?
Yeah, it’s been good. I haven’t been home in so long, it’s been close to a year so it’s been good to get back and have some time to relax and see my family and my friends.
Hopefully you’re not too sick of talking about your fight already, I’d like to ask a couple of things about it. Firstly, Julio Cesar Neves, 29-0, and though maybe not amongst the greatest company, 26 finishes, what were your thoughts heading into that fight?
Well, I got excited right away, I was just coming back off of my injury at that time and didn’t want to fight anybody that was a turd, so when they told me about Julio I was pretty excited.
Just typing his name into Sherdog and you’ll see the forum rats describing him as the next great prospect, the second coming of Tyson, asking why he’s not in the UFC. You actually managed to submit him, how did that make you feel?
Yeah, I was psyched man. Seeing him in the back he was just being a little cocky and you don’t want people like that around. I understand when you’re doing that with your family, but when you’re doing that just you and me then you’re starting to get personal, that’s why I really wanted to just put him down and make him quit. You know the best part about that is, they know they quit. They have to live with that for the rest of their life.
With that fight and the Bazer fight, you’re now 2-0 in Bellator. Both wins have been finishes and particularly with the last one, get your name out there. Have you heard anything about what’s next? And what do you want next?
No we haven’t really gotten to that yet. It’s taken me so long to get home, I just want to kind of relax for a while, it’s been so long. I think I’m gonna shoot for the next few months. I’m definitely gonna fight again within the next, I’d say, 4 months.
But after a fight I like to go back and watch the tapes, I’ve watched that fight several times already to see any problems I had dealing with anything. See what we can do about it and just try and get better for the next fight.
You had over a year between your two Bellator fights due to injury, how did it feel being on the shelf for so long?
Well, honestly it sucked. I don’t really do anything else other than train and then fight. I’m a pretty active guy, I love going out and doing things so when they told me I wasn’t really gonna be able to move for so long, it was hard to deal with that. The first couple of weeks were the worst. After that, it got a little easier. I just started going to the gym, watching the other guys train, doing my physical therapy, taking it slow. By the time it was over it didn’t even seem like it was that long anymore.
It slowed me down. I couldn’t rely on my athleticism anymore, I had to rely on the actual techniques. I feel like it helped me to become better to be honest.
So you’re training at Alliance MMA, how did that come about?
Well one of my teammates, his name’s Paul Bradley. I used to train with him at the academy in Minnesota. He ended up at Alliance and told me how good it was. I decided it was the way to go, and it’s turned out pretty well so far. A lot of tough guys there.
One of the leading camps in the sport at the moment, training with the likes of Myles Jury, Dominick Cruz on a daily basis. That must have improved your game massively?
Yeah absolutely. Being in there every day with those guys, it makes the fight easy when you’re practising really hard. Even if you’re just doing weights or something like that, you’re gonna have to work hard, you’re gonna have to focus all the time and then you’re gonna have to do it with some world-class individuals. And you know all that when you wake up.
You’re a wrestler by trade, but in your two fights in Bellator, your stand up and submission game have been very impressive. When you arrived at Alliance had you expanded your game much or were you still very much wrestling based?
Well, I’ve gotten a lot more confident with my stand up, that’s for sure. And working with (grappling coach) Neil Melanson on the ground, it’s improved my ground game tenfold. He’s a great coach and a great mentor. He’s shown me a lot, and just working on the simple techniques and the finer details of those, breaking that stuff down for me.
I feel like I’m much less wrestling based than I was before. I’ll always be a wrestler but now I have so many more tools in the box that I can use and continue to get better. I’m getting to that point where I can consider myself a true mixed martial artist and not just a wrestler.
Do you think you’ll stay at 145?
Yeah for as long as I can. I’ll keep doing it until my body tells me no more. At 145lbs I have to do everything right, my diet has to be right, I have to do the proper conditioning work. I have to make sure I’m running on a regular basis. I can’t have lots of the cheat meals. I’m pretty much dieting 24/7 while I get ready for my next fight. That’s the reason I like 145. I have to be on point, I have to be prepared and I have to do everything right.
Featherweight is very much one of Bellator’s flagship divisions, the Pat Curran and Pitbull rivalry has been one to garner much attention. Are you someone who has long term plans? Are you looking to go all the way in Bellator? or are you looking at the UFC at all?
Really I’m just looking to keep winning fights man. I really like Bellator, just trying to go all the way. See what we can do, collect the belt. We’re not here to play games. I want to fight the best people and beat the best people. It’s the only reason I do this is to do that. Wherever they’re at, that’s where I’m at.
Your first fight in Bellator was under the previous regime when Bjorn Rebney was in charge, have you noticed anything different since Scott Coker has taken over?
Yeah, it seemed a little different this time. There are some new people that are involved and just the way it’s run. For the most part, I like it, it really did seem pretty good.
I think he’s doing a really good job in getting the shows together too. I went to watch one of the bigger shows they did in San Diego last year, it had awesome production values. It’s way better to go and watch now than before in my opinion. Talking to some of the fighters that have worked for him before, they say he treats them pretty fair too.
How do you feel about the change in structure away from tournaments?
Well, I would have liked the opportunity to compete in one. Three fights and then a guaranteed shot at the title. But at the same time, I think it now gives them the opportunity to make some name fights. Before they couldn’t really do the name fights because they’d have to go back through the tournaments to get a shot at the champ.
But now they can bring guys in like Georgi (Karakhanyan) who has already won a couple of belts can come straight in and fight for the title. He doesn’t have to wait for the tournament.
So you live in California now? You don’t just travel in for camps?
Yeah, I live there. I’ve been living there for over a year. It’s amazing man. Every day it’s sunny when you wake up, you go to bed it’s the same. Not dealing with the weather is definitely worth it. I lived in North Dakota and Minnesota too where it’s so cold. Just glad to be away from it to be honest.
One of the things I did want to ask you about, Ed Ruth the three-time national wrestling champion that just turned over. One of the reasons he cited for Bellator over the UFC was the chance to seek out his own sponsors. Do you have any opinions on that?
I’ve never been in the UFC so I don’t know how it works over there, but I think it’s good for Bellator. Especially now the UFC is getting rid of everybody, a lot of companies that are known for MMA are gonna be looking for somewhere else to go, and I’m thinking Bellator is gonna be their next stop.
With Bellator, World Series of Fighting and even ONE FC now with Ben Askren over there, the competition for the UFC can only be good for the fighters?
Yeah definitely. When we have more options it gives us a little more power. Fighters aren’t really in control. Once you sign that contract, you’re under contract and you kind of have to live with it at that point.
I think that sponsorships are gonna work out pretty well. It sucks for the guys that are losing everything. I know a lot of guys in the UFC that 80% of their income was sponsorship money so that’s gonna make a big problem for a lot of people. But if it works out for us in Bellator.
Obviously a lot of the guys in the lower tier of the Reebok deal, or not in it at all as the case may be are certainly going to struggle now.
Yeah, they’re gonna have to work regular jobs and still somehow get in training time. You can’t consider yourself like an NFL if you’re gonna ask guys to work a regular job too. They don’t get time to get better. NFL athletes and guys in the MLB, they’re not working other jobs. They’re just 100% athletes, that’s what they do every day when they get up.
Looking you up online, there’s not too much about you. You have your own website but not a great deal of coverage away from that. Have you noticed more attention since your victory?
Yeah, I feel that more people have been paying attention, definitely. Before I knocked out Tim Bazer but people don’t really know who Tim Bazer is. But this guy, undefeated, in Bellator. It was pretty exciting for me to beat that dude. Everybody is like ‘oh wow’ but I didn’t think it was anything surprising or amazing. But to win after everybody thought I was gonna lose is a pretty good feeling.
I was the underdog but I didn’t really see it that way and I didn’t realise how many people did until afterwards. Until I saw how surprised a lot of people were when I won. And that’s a pretty good feeling too. I like to prove people wrong.
Images courtesy of bellator.com, tapology.com & teamacademynews.com