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The Jordan Mein Shuffle

"I'm just here to put on the best performance I possibly can with all the skills I have." - Jordan Mein

24-year-old Jordan Mein has had quite the fight camp for his UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs Dos Anjos bout at Oklahoma City’s BOK Center this weekend.

He set out at first to train for hard-hitting Thiago Alves. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is dangerous wherever the fight goes, and his chin has been tested by the best in the business, time and time again. But the injury-prone welterweight suffered yet another, and Brandon Thatch stepped in as replacement.

“I’ve seen Alves fight so many times, so I didn’t really need to watch any video, I knew what to expect,” Mein said. “But then he pulls out and Thatch steps in, but I didn’t watch any video on him at all. I don’t really get too invested in anyone I’m fighting. I just focus on what I do and train to get better at those things, but then Thatch pulls out, and now Mike Pyle steps in, and of course, I’ve been watching Pyle for so many years I know what to expect with him too, but I’m just glad we both got a fight.”

One man’s crisis is another man’s opportunity, and with Thatch’s injury, Mike Pyle does get to fight after his original opponent, Demian Maia, also pulled out due to injury.

So while the infamous “injury bug” did its best to wreak havoc on this card, fans end up with a co-main event that is sure to deliver fireworks inside the Octagon.

Stylistically, this is a great matchup. While Mein could be seen as the better striker, Pyle, normally a grappler, has KO victories of late, and both men are adamant about going for the finish each and every time out.

“I'm there to win,” Mein says. “I’m there to show the fans and everybody at the UFC my skills and what I've been working on for the past two months, and go in there and give it my all and leave it all in there, not hold anything back. I'm going in there to push myself and my goal is to get so tired that by the end of my fight I won't even be able to walk.”

They say “you fight like you train,” and training to failure - when you can’t do one more rep, one more round – is something Mein has been conditioned to do since a very young age. That happens when your father is your head trainer.

“My father is never complacent,” he says. “Even just hitting pads, he’s always correcting my technique or stance. But it's fun to train all the time, to be around the guys and to go home and watch training videos and to talk about training outside the gym. It's what I live for. There's obviously days when it's not fun to get up and train, but that's just a part of it.

Everyone in every industry goes through that, but I'm just trying to take my passion and make a living out of it.”

In Pyle, Jordan faces a crafty veteran who has seen it all in his long fight career, something Mein is acutely aware of.

“He's a great fighter and he's been doing this a while,” Mein says. “I have to respect that going into this fight. I can't be reckless with Pyle, because there's probably nothing he hasn't seen in there. I've got to be wise and also react to everything and put the pressure on him and really go for the win, and not hold back. I've held back before in some of my fights, and there's a time and place for that, but there's also a time to go all out. I plan to go all out this time. I go in with the belief and the faith that the skills and timing will overcome my opponent, to let the training happen and let all those repetitions over the years come out.”

“Over the years” might be a quote you would think would be from his 38-year-old opponent, however don’t let Mein’s relative young age fool you. He’s had as many fights as Pyle, having started his professional career at age 16.

So when he talks of repetitions, he’s talking about the ten thousand reps Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in “Blink.”

“I don't have the ten thousand reps in every position,” Mein says. “But my jab I definitely do, and my kimura on the right side, maybe, but not my kimura on the left side. Obviously, training and fighting in the UFC will help me get there in all positions, but I believe I have the experience and the reps, and it helps to know you have them. It keeps you calm in certain situations, and I am sure Pyle knows that too. We both have that confidence.”

For Mein, Saturday will represent his fourth fight in the UFC, having come from the Strikeforce ranks when the UFC absorbed its brother promotion. He’s coming off a split decision victory over Hernani Perpetuo last April, and he’s eager to put on a Performance of the Night type fight in front of a FOX Sports 1 audience.

“I'm just here to put on the best performance I possibly can with all the skills I have. I am also glad I'm fighting; I didn't want to sit out any longer, and I'm glad Pyle got a fight too, so it's good for both of us.”