It’s been a quick minute since we’ve seen Jake “The Grinder” Heffernan enter a cage. In fact it will be almost nine months since Heffernan’s last fight to when he fights Gabriel Silva on March 29 at LFA 63. Since last June, Heffernan has tried to get a fight.
“Honestly, it came down to nothing more than I couldn’t get a good matchup. I’ve been ready to go since that last fight, I had one matchup with LFA against Nate Jennerman, which would’ve been a really awesome fight. He got injured or something, I’m not exactly sure why but he pulled out of the fight and after that I got offered a couple of guys in other promotions like Sparta Combat against that Justin Gonzales, J-Train and he got injured or something happened in his camp and he had to pull out. I got offered that Wonderboy from the Contender Series that fights up in NY for CFFC, I got offered to fight him and he said no. Again, it’s for no other reason than, I get matched up with dudes and they think they want to square up and then they look up videos on me and then they say never mind.”
Despite the long layoff, Heffernan still believes he is at the top of the featherweight division on the regional scene and believes that he is a fighter many don’t want to fight, hence why he had the long layoff.
“Honestly, feel like I’m definitely one of the guys that is more shied away from in the 45 division. I may not have twenty some what fights on the record but the fights I do have are all great shows of skill and I think that at this point, Legacy is just like, they’re to the point where they’re asking anybody if they’ll fight me cause I say yes to everybody, there is literally no fight I’ll say no to unless I’m teammates with the guy.”
Speaking of teammates, Heffernan has expanded his training partners to include top Texas featherweights Daniel Pineda and Damon Jackson. Heffernan trains with Pineda at 4oz Fight Club and with Jackson at Fortis MMA as well as training at his home gym, Gracie Barra Woodlands with his head coach, UFC fighter Alex Morono (he is officially representing Gracie Barra Woodlands). It was Morono who first took Heffernan to Fortis to train under Sayif Saud and work with high level training partners such as Jackson, Diego Ferreira, Macy Chiasson and Miles Johns.
“More so to get different looks, but also if you’ve ever seen or watched the Instagram videos, the MMA training there is definitely on a different level, it’s awesome even to have Sayif to say I can go and train there.”
Though Heffernan is excited to train with Team Fortis and hopefully join the team full time in the future, he has had to hold down the fort and teach classes and coach the team at Gracie Barra. For his advancements in this camp, Heffernan attributes a lot of his growth to Pineda.
“I have been training with Daniel Pineda for this fight camp every single week, like twice a week, three times a week. That dude has been showing me exactly what level I need to be on to get to the next big show. He is literally the most underrated 145 pounder that’s not in the UFC. I have to go out of my way to tell everyone how good he is because it’s insane how good he is. Training with him is really something I’ve never experienced before which is getting taken down and getting beat up on the grown like no one has ever done to me.”
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Another day of getting beat up by this guy @danielpitpineda in prep for my upcoming fight on March 29th for @lfafighting as the Co-main event. #mma #bjj #fighter #undefeated #featherweight #lfa #ufc #fightsmarts #teamtexas #woodlandsmma #graciebarra #teamiridium #loadedpistols #sponsored #sponsorme #fight #kickboxing #muaythai #boxing
“It’s definitely put me on the next level for sure.”
In his last fight, Heffernan showed he reached the next level when he defeated Peter Stanonik by unanimous decision at LFA 43. Stanonik is known as a very talented kickboxer, (who has even fought for Glory Kickboxing) but Heffernan was able to dictate the pace on the feet and the ground. The fact that he was able to stand with Stanonik became a big confidence booster for him.
“That fight it really showed me the level of fighter I am at the moment. One, taking a matchup against a guy with almost nothing but knockouts, it is definitely one of those ones where I was like, f***k shit can go down, who knows what’s going to happen, dude just clipped you and the fight can be over. Definitely going into the fight I was very like who knows what’s going to happen, this dude can be the best fighter I’ll ever fight. But about mid-way through the first round, really landing my shots and striking, I realized that because I was more of a full fighter, that I was better at striking than him because I cold put it together with everything else. So when the fight was over, when I got back to my regular training, I started really focusing on my kickboxing and my stand up. Honestly, that fight really showed me that if somebody wants to throwdown and either brawl or do a technical kickboxing match with me, I think I can sit there toe and toe and push the pace and do really well.”
“I feel like there is nobody that I should shy away from because they’re a striker now that I’ve shown I can take one of the best strikers in Texas and pretty much just ragdoll him during the fight.”
The win over Stanonik not only boosted Heffernan’s confidence, but it earned him a multi-fight contract with LFA. His first fight on the card will be against UFC veteran Erick Silva’s brother Gabriel on March 29 in the co-main event of LFA 63. Heffernan knows he is in for a tough fight but the fact that his opponent is getting attention from being the brother of a famous fighter makes him think his opponent might not be as good as people make him out to be.
“I will tell you this, nobody knows me as a fighter because I train with Alex Morono, they know me as a fighter because I’m Jake Heffernan. So when you just literally brought him up, the first thing you said was, uh, you’re fighting Erick Silva’s brother, you didn’t say you’re fighting Gabriel Silva, who also happens to be Erick Silva’s brother, if you’re known by somebody else, you’re known because your brother does MMA, that’s not good. That means there’s nothing about your style of your fighting ability to talk about that makes you a fighter, in my opinion. When every single post that LFA and any other social media form is doing and it’s all starting with Erick Silva’s little brother Gabriel Silva, it’s like, uh, that’s a big shoutout bro, I hope that doesn’t cause you any stress. Cause you’re not fighting someone’s brother, you’re fighting Jake Heffernan.”
The matchup itself is intriguing to Heffernan,as he believes they are both naturally good on the ground and are both pressure fighters. He also sees it as a crowd-pleasing fight, which is what he aims for.
“I like to keep it exciting too, I don’t want to sit there and get into a grappling match and then have people start to boo in the crowd. That’s my number one goal, not to have people.”
The Texas native is known for his grappling skills but has grown more confident in his striking skills, but he says he won’t forget what he is best at when it comes down to winning a fight or being entertaining. In fact, he says muscle memory won’t let him.
“For any fighter we’re all a little weary of like ah don’t get carried away on striking because you can accidentally leave a hand low and get clipped. And you don’t want to shy away from what you’re naturally good at either, which is never a good idea. You don’t want to be a grappler and refuse to go into your natural ability. I have tried to stay striking with guys in fights and I just naturally always end up shooting in at some point and I’ve even been in fights before and I’ve been hitting dudes and I’ve been like “stay standing, don’t shoot, don’t shoot” and my body just makes me shoot. I want to always stay standing, in my head I always see myself getting a knockout or a head kick or something, but instinctually, my body is like “I know that’s what you want to do, but this is what we’re good at.” So if anything seems to go in his favor, I know my body and my mind will take over and I’ll start to clinch and grapple against the cage and eventually get him down.”
Silva is a smaller fighter for the featherweight division, standing at 5’6, but Heffernan says he has trained against many similar sized training partners and believes his pressure will overwhelm Silva.
“I know he’s probably very strong being at 5’6 and fighting at 145, but I have extremely good experience training with guys that small no matter how strong they are and just overwhelming them with my pressure.”
Because of his pressure and his confidence in his striking, Heffernan doesn’t see this fight going to the scorecards.
“I could see it being a finish in the second round, through hands like a standing TKO or a knockout.”
What’s next for Heffernan is tricky because Damon Jackson is the interim LFA featherweight champion and he trains with Team Fortis, where Heffernan wants to train. So fighting Jackson isn’t realistic for Heffernan. But the is a possibility Heffernan won’t need to win the LFA title to make it to the UFC as Dana White will be in attendance for his fight to film an episode of Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight and an impressive victory can earn him a spot on the UFC roster. Heffernan, is thrilled with that news and believes “Uncle Dana” will be talking about him for days after his fight.
“It is really amazing to hear Dana White will be at the fights! Being co-main event puts me in the perfect position to shine and show out. Plan to see fireworks! This will be the fight to take risks and make everyone remember my name! Uncle Dana will be talking about my fight for many days after.”