"I’m not gonna switch it up. It’s a little late now to be changing my style." - Jacob Volkmann
For a relatively quiet chiropractor from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Jacob Volkmann sure knows how to get a reaction. But whether you’ve criticized his fighting style, his call out of United States President Barack Obama, or any other reason, one thing is not open for debate:
He’s proved to be a winner.
Unbeaten in five UFC fights at lightweight after going 0-2 in the Octagon at 170 pounds (his only two pro losses), Volkmann may not be spectacular, he may not pile up post-fight bonus checks, but he knows how to find a way to win. And the way he sees it, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I’m not gonna switch it up,” he said. “It’s a little late now to be changing my style. If I change it now and I lose, I think it’s gonna be too late and I’ll get cut. And there’s no way I’m gonna change it now because it’s winning. I gotta pay the bills first.”
A married father of three who balances his fight career with work as a chiropractor and a high school wrestling coach, the 31-year old knows that whether the fans stand and cheer at the end of the night or not, getting the ‘W’ is the best form of job security. And it’s not like he’s fighting stiffs to put together his winning streak. Ronys Torres, Paul Kelly, Antonio McKee, Danny Castillo, and Efrain Escudero are all quality lightweights, yet none of them could figure out the riddle of “Christmas.”
“I don’t know what it is, but for some reason they’re not working on their takedown defense,” said the three-time Division I All-American from the University of Minnesota. “It’s pretty obvious that my standup is probably the weakest point in my game, and if someone practices their takedown defense and I’m stuck with staying standing, they actually have a shot. But if I get it to the ground, I’m gonna control it pretty easily.”
It’s almost as if Volkmann can hand his opponents his gameplan but it will still work because his execution is so good. In fact, the closest Volkmann came to a defeat recently was in the last round of his bout with Escudero, when he got caught in a choke that he managed to escape after some dicey moments. Other than that he’s had fairly smooth sailing at 155 pounds. Then again, his opponent at UFC 146 this Saturday, Unbeaten Brit Paul Sass, specializes in locking in submissions and finishing them, having done in 11 of his 12 opponents via tapout. Volkmann is well aware of who he’s dealing with this weekend.
“He’s got about three moves – he does a triangle, an omoplata, and a heel hook when he gets space, so I’ve been working on stuff to avoid getting into scrambles and giving him an opportunity at any one of those,” said Volkmann. “So it is pretty easy to see what he does. He does pretty much the same thing any other fighter does, but he’s pretty good at getting the space to get an ankle or get a triangle or omoplata.”
So with a wrestler fighting a submission ace, is it safe to say that this one is heading to the mat?
“Odds are that we will go to the ground,” he said. “I’ve been watching his fights, and the guy pulls guard, for crying out loud. He does not like staying standing, and it’s kinda weird, but I’ll be fine. I’ll be passing his guard as we’re going down to the ground, and I should be able to control it pretty well.”
And once they’ve hit the mat, it’s time for the Minnesotan to do his thing, controlling position and setting the pace of the fight to his liking. Sass knows what’s coming, but Volkmann doesn’t care.
“He’s probably not knowing what it’s gonna be like,” he said. “There are a lot of rumors about how strong I am and stuff like that, and I’m not sure if he understands the strength, and plus, I’ve been wrestling my whole life and I’m pretty good with my hips and controlling the pressure and I’m pretty sure that a European is not used to a wrestler. The European-style wrestling is not even close to the caliber of USA wrestling.”
Statements like that produce the kind of pre-bout bulletin board material that can sometimes backfire on a fighter, but that hasn’t stopped Volkmann, whose stream of consciousness comments have gotten more attention than his fighting at times, and has made him into a cult hero in some circles. Not that he’s seeing it.
“I read the forums every once in a while and it seems like there’s more negative than positive, but I don’t really care,” he said. I’m gonna keep doing what wins and I’m not gonna change.”
To him, that’s all that really matters.