Justin Jaynes has never been one to let the world come to him. Instead, the Richmond, Michigan native has always been in attack mode, willing to do whatever it takes to be a success in a job that he’s wanted since he was a teenager.
“If you ever talk to my mom and my dad, I think the biggest thing they could tell you is, don't tell me I can't,” said Jaynes. “When I was in a senior in high school, 17 years old, I told my mom that I wanted to become an MMA fighter.”
The reaction was an expected one, complete with pleas for her son to go to college, get a steady job, and live as normal a life as he could. Jaynes agreed to go to college, ultimately earning his degree in Sport and Fitness Management from Olivet, College. And he got a job, as a prizefighter. As for the normal life, well, where’s the fun in that?
UFC Vegas 3: Justin Jaynes def Camacho by TKO
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UFC Vegas 3: Justin Jaynes def Camacho by TKO
“I'm stubborn,” he said. “If I say I'm gonna do something, I do it, and I don't care what it takes. If it takes me moving all the way to the other side of the country, joining Xtreme Couture (in Las Vegas) and getting my ass beat day in and day out by guys like Tyson Griffin, Mike Pyle, Even Dunham, Gray Maynard back in 2008, 2009, 2010, so be it. I work my ass off and I just keep trying to move forward as a fighter.”
Counting amateur and professional fights, Jaynes estimates that he’s made the walk 71 times already. On Saturday, it’s number 72 against Charles Rosa. And while he may be in his physical prime at 31, he knows there’s more fights behind him than in front of him. He’s fine with that, because he feels like now is the time to make his run.
“I feel like I'm a seasoned vet, I fought some of the best in the world and I don't think my body will be able to carry me over until I'm 40 doing this, so I need to make the next couple of years the best I can do,” said Jaynes, who has lived quite the interesting life thus far, but doesn’t spend too much time dwelling on the stories he’ll tell his grandkids one day.
“I don't see things like that. I just want to do whatever's best for me and my family, and whatever happens, one day I'll probably look back and think some of the things I did were kind of crazy, but at the end of the day, I'm just trying to make a better life for myself and my family, and if it's book-worthy in the long run, that's great, but for now, I just want to keep taking fights and get back on the winning track.”
That’s the looming question over this weekend’s matchup in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas: can Jaynes right his ship and break a three-fight losing streak when he meets Rosa? “The Guitar Hero” is confident that he will, and he has good reason to be, considering that the new king of short-notice fights got a full eight-week training camp for this one.
“I'm so excited,” he said. “I have more time to prepare in this camp than I have my other four fights combined, so everything is going really well right now.”
That doesn’t mean Jaynes wasn’t chomping at the bit to return earlier, even throwing his hat into the ring for a shot at facing Donald Cerrone in May – at welterweight, no less – before Alex Morono got the shot at “Cowboy.” That’s just who Jaynes is, but after a blistering 41-second knockout of Frank Camacho in his UFC debut a year ago was followed by losses to Gavin Tucker, Gabriel Benitez and Devonte Smith, his team at Xtreme Couture pulled him back and suggested that he take advantage of the full camp for Rosa.
“That's why I'm thankful for my coaches,” said James. “They always tell me to chill out and slow down, but here's the thing: I'm not getting any younger and I only have a limited opportunity in my foreseeable future, whether it's because of age or because of injury. Everyone keeps saying this word 'chance.' 'Oh, you're taking a chance.' Yeah, but I feel I'm taking a chance to be great, though. Nobody remembers the guy that sits on the sidelines for a year or two at a time unless you're Conor McGregor or someone like that. I want to get in there, I want my face to be seen, and all these guys, I can compete with. It's not like I'm being outclassed. But yes, my coaches are telling me to chill out. (Laughs) And now that we have a full camp, getting down to 145, weight's gonna be good, cardio's gonna be good, and Charles Rosa has his hands full come June 26th.”
The confident glow around Jaynes has not dimmed in the slightest despite his recent cold stretch, but he’s not delusional, either. He is well aware that getting a win by any means necessary is the most important thing when he enters the UFC APEX in a few days.
“I think if I lose this fight, I'm gonna have to go get some wins in some other organization to be brought back,” Jaynes admits. “We're fighting in the UFC, the biggest and best organization in the world, and if you need to put together wins, no matter how likable you are, no matter how tough you are. But I don't plan on losing. I'm betting everything I have - figuratively and literally - on this fight. I'm all-in. My whole life I've been all-in and it's no different for this fight.”