There is a four letter word prevalent in every conversation with Scott Jorgensen, one that has led him through his 29 years on this earth, from his time as a three-time Pac-10 champion wrestler at Boise State to his current status as one of the best bantamweight mixed martial artists in the world.
The way life is for “Young Guns,” nothing good happens without that word, and nothing worth having comes without it. So when he went through a flawless training camp for the biggest fight of his career last December against Dominick Cruz, he assumed that all the work was done. All he needed to do was show up on fight night and the first 135-pound championship belt in UFC history was his.
He was wrong. The work wasn’t done yet.
“If you want to be successful, you work for it,” said Jorgensen, who lost a lackluster five round decision to Cruz on the final WEC card in Arizona. “You want to win, you work for it. For some reason, through the security of a training camp that went fantastically great, which never happens for me, (Laughs) I honestly felt like nothing could go wrong for me that day. I had the fight, it didn’t matter what I did, I’d catch him. I honestly felt like I was gonna knock him out, and with a guy like Dominick I should have known better. I should have pulled my head out of my butt and thought back to all those days in wrestling when I thought ‘oh, I’ll go out there and walk through this guy,’ and it didn’t happen. I made the mistake of counting on one thing, and Dominick’s a guy you can’t count on luck with. You gotta put the work in, and the hardest part about that was I was embarrassed about my performance because it didn’t look great, it wasn’t a good performance, and it wasn’t a close fight.”
He pauses, letting his only loss of the last two years sink in once again. Then he reveals his current status update.
“It will never happen again.”
And when it comes to the hard-nosed Jorgensen, that’s a statement you would feel pretty secure taking to the bank, because if you looked at his five fights before the Cruz bout and his first round knockout of Ken Stone in his lone post-Cruz match, it’s a different fighter than the one fighting for the title against the admittedly tough to decipher champion. But part of this game is making everything come together when it matters, and Jorgensen wasn’t able to do that. It was a lesson learned, and as he prepares for his Saturday bout against returning veteran Jeff Curran, he doesn’t dread taking the long road back to a title shot.
“I’m gonna put my nose to the grindstone and do what I gotta do,” said Jorgensen, 12-4. “I did it before in the WEC to get to that shot with Cruz. I’ll do it again, I’m comfortable with it, and I one hundred percent know that I’m one of the best in the world. So it doesn’t matter who you put in front of me, I’m gonna knock ‘em down, beat ‘em up, and keep moving closer to that title, whether it’s three fights or five fights. And the more fights that I get, the better I become. I learn every single fight and I figure out a little bit more between the fights, and that just builds my game and builds my confidence and makes it that much harder to stop me.”
“One of the best in the world.” It’s an accurate statement when it comes to Jorgensen’s place in the bantamweight pecking order, and you’ve got to wonder whether he ever sits back and lets that thought soak in, if only for a moment. Want to guess the answer?
“I learned in college that if you get caught up in the rankings and all that, it’s a false sense of security because that could get taken away in a moment,” he said. “A ranking’s an opinion. The only spot that’s guaranteed is the guy that’s holding that belt. There’s only one number one, and everything else is arbitrary. So it’s just work. If I want to be recognized as one of the best, yeah, I do what I’ve been doing, but that’s not what I’m settling for, and that’s not why I started competing in sports. I’m definitely not in the UFC to fight for second place. I’m fighting in the UFC to be the world champion. It’s been work, work, work, and not paying attention to the talk and the recognition that I get. I appreciate it, but I’ll appreciate it a lot more if I’ve got a big gold belt.”
There’s that “w” word again. Four times in the last paragraph to be exact. When you point it out to him, he laughs, but then explains.
“That’s a wrestler’s mentality,” he said. “You look at guys like Clay Guida, Urijah (Faber), Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Phil Davis, every one of us that came up through the Division I ranks in college wrestling, we knew one thing. We didn’t get the recognition, we didn’t get the interviews or the autographs, we just got that self-satisfaction of being the best, winning a tournament, or winning an NCAA title, which some of those guys did. It’s that wrestler’s work ethic, that grind, that mentality that we never started this because of the recognition or because we thought we were gonna get famous; we started wrestling because we loved the sport, the spirit of competition and just being able to go out there and beat another person at something they’ve been training for as hard as you had.”
“I learned with the coaches and training partners that I’ve had that there was only one way to get better, and that was by outworking your opponent,” he continues. “And whether that comes by way of knockout or submission or a decision, you’ve got to outwork them. You’ve got to be prepared for anything and that’s a wrestler’s mentality and this is a wrestler’s sport.”
With comments like that, it doesn’t sound like Scott Jorgensen is the kind of guy you want to fight, because win or lose, you’ll know you’ve been in a grueling, punishing scrap. But over 13 years into his career, Curran has seen it all in rings and cages around the world, and if the “Big Frog” knows anything, it’s that if you want to make an impression, why not take on the baddest guy you possibly could? And that’s what he’s doing with Jorgensen.
“A lot of people said ‘why would he take you as a first fight,’ and there have been interviews where he said he picked me to fight over Mike Easton,” said Jorgensen. “But I’m a bigger name, and if he does get a win, great, it builds his career again. If he loses, he just lost to one of the top guys in the world again, so chalk it up to the game.”
“I know after his last fight, he said ‘I’m retiring if I don’t get back in the UFC,’ and I think it was really hard to find a lot of guys that were willing to fight me,” he continues. “I’m in a position where it’s a tough fight for a lot of guys. So with Curran wanting to be back in the UFC, and from what I may have heard through the grapevine and through different avenues, it was hard to find a fight for me and he was willing to step up and take it. This was the risk he was willing to take, and if this was his way back into the UFC and back into that spotlight, he was gonna do whatever it took. But it doesn’t matter to me. I’ve got to go back in there with the same mentality as I had before.”
Yeah, you guessed it – work, work, work.
Hard Hat in Hand, Scott Jorgensen gets ready to clock in
"It doesn’t matter who you put in front of me, I’m gonna knock ‘em down, beat ‘em up, and keep moving closer to that title." - Scott Jorgensen
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