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Dustin Jacoby celebrates after his TKO victory over Justin Ledet in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 31, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Dustin Jacoby Is Pumped To Face Ion Cutelaba

Dustin Jacoby Sees His Light Heavyweight Showdown With Ion Cutelaba As A Fight Of The Night Caliber Match-Up

Dustin Jacoby was just minding his own business, putting in his time in the gym while giving his Factory X teammates his Book of the Month pick (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell) when the call came in. Devin Clark was out of his bout against Ion Cutelaba.

Was “The Hanyak” interested? Of course he was.

“To be honest, I feel like I almost manifested this fight,” said Jacoby, who faces Cutelaba in Las Vegas this Saturday. “For some reason, and it's not because I was a big fan of Cutelaba, but the past couple of years, I always seem to watch his fights and I always picture him like this crazy guy, probably because he sticks out. He's an emotional guy, he's 'The Hulk,' he's crazy in the Octagon, crazy at weigh-ins, so he's a guy that's always kind of stood out to me and I always thought to myself, 'Man, I feel like I'd do really well with this guy. I know I can beat this guy.' And here we are.”

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On paper, this one has Fight of the Night written all over it if it doesn’t end in a minute with the victor taking home a Performance of the Night bonus. Think about it – Cutelaba is the berserker who specializes in aggressively pursuing the finish as long as he’s in the Octagon. Jacoby is the sharpshooter, a former Glory kickboxer who is among the best strikers in the light heavyweight division. That’s the recipe, but that recipe also favors the Coloradan, who can catch an aggressive Cutelaba on the way in with something or can pick his shots from the outside should the Moldova native decide to fight a more tactical bout. Either way, Jacoby likes his chances.

Dustin Jacoby prepares to fight Maxim Grishin in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Dustin Jacoby prepares to fight Maxim Grishin in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“He's gonna come out real aggressive and I think my precision and my accuracy is gonna catch him,” he said. “I think it's a bonus-type fight one way or the other, and I'm looking forward to this opportunity. I'm pumped for this fight.”

You can hear it in his voice, even if some on social media believes this is a tough assignment for Jacoby to take on short notice after going three rounds with Maxim Grishin in February.

“On Twitter, I keep seeing a lot of people saying it's a step-up in competition for me, and honestly, I think it's the other way around,” Jacoby said. “This guy's had nine UFC fights but I stood toe-to-toe with some of the best strikers in the world in Glory Kickboxing and, to me, there's nothing about this guy that stands out. Yeah, he's aggressive and he throws bombs; if he catches you with one, you could go down. But I need to go out there and just fight my fight, be smart, stay tight and go straight down the middle. I feel like he fades as the fight goes on. He's got three good minutes in him where he comes out like a wildman, and then he really slows down. Either way, I'm looking forward to meeting that guy in the middle.”

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As for the whole short notice thing, the 33-year-old simply says, “I've been training a decade for this fight.”

Those are the words of a veteran, one who didn’t have that confidence back in 2011, when he 6-0 as a pro and making his UFC debut against Clifford Starks. He had the swagger, but he didn’t have the experience to go with it, and after going 0-2 in the Octagon and moving through various MMA promotions over the next three years, he entered the world of kickboxing and continued to build his combat sports resume, even getting in a pro boxing bout in 2019. So when he returned to mixed martial arts in 2019, he wasn’t the same fighter. He was better, smarter and more experienced.

UFC Vegas 12: Dustin Jacoby marks his return to the UFC with a first round TKO
UFC Vegas 12: Dustin Jacoby marks his return to the UFC with a first round TKO

Jacoby went on to earn himself another UFC contract through Dana White’s Contender Series last summer, and with wins over Justin Ledet and Grishin, he’s where he’s always wanted to be. And at 33, he may just be in his physical prime as well. Needless to say, he wasn’t going to turn down the Cutelaba fight.


“It's funny because coach (Marc Montoya) and I were talking and he said, ‘This isn't a full camp, we know that. It's not like we need to train anything specific. The fight's here - you just gotta go out and be you. You're in shape, you know how to fight, you're a veteran of the sport, you know how to perform when the lights come on. You just gotta be you.’ And he's exactly right. That's how I feel and that's why I love this matchup, too. When I'm fighting a real technical wrestler or a real technical ground guy that wants to try to get me down and use certain moves, then we'll really train technique. But when I'm fighting a guy like Cutelaba, there's no real technical things we're doing. We're just being me and doing what we do. This is gonna be my 40th professional fight and I'm looking forward to it.”

About all Jacoby has to worry about is Cutelaba’s usual weigh-in day antics. But if you think something like that concerns a guy nicknamed “The Hanyak,” think again. 

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“Of course, all my teammates, all my buddies, they're like, 'Man, you gotta be prepared at weigh-ins; this guy's gonna get in your face, he's gonna scream,'” Jacoby laughs. “And I was like, I'm cool with all that; he can do whatever he wants, just don't touch me. If you want to get in my face and yell, if that's what you gotta do to get yourself ready, by all means, go right ahead. Just do not touch me.”