Montel “Quik” Jackson will compete on Season 2 of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Check him out June 12, but before you do, check out his quick interview with Montel Jackson on MyMMANews.com.
“I really didn’t want to get into MMA. I wrestled in high school. I made it to state and got some nice offers, but then my grandparents became sick. I didn’t want to leave them. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them before they passed. My grandpa’s biggest fear was going to the nursing home where he’d be left alone with no visitors and I wasn’t going to do that to him.
“So, I stayed here instead of going to college, but continued to wrestle around. I did an invitational, team USA vs team Japan. They actually switched it up. I thought it was going to be Greco style, but when we got there it was freestyle. I did alright, but it led me to meeting the guy from the Olympic training center in Marquette, Michigan. He told me about their program. I started classes at MATC with intentions of heading up there, but then that’s the summer unfortunately wrestling was dropped from the Olympics.
“Then my whole future was up in limbo, like what do I do now? Do I go there, take a gamble and be stuck up there for half a year if wrestling is not going to come back or stay here? I was stuck with that decision. During that time Devon was like I’m fighting this guy Raefon Stots. Can you come wrestle around with me on Sundays? I just need to sharpen my wrestling; this guy is a national champ. I started coming over to Red Schafer’s on Sundays. I would stick around after wrestling to watch open matts. Devon was like why you don’t try to roll man, so I did.
“I met this little Puerto Rican guy named Gotto. He started to show me some stuff, small things about grappling. He was showing me that grappling and wrestling are really similar. He was a big believer in my ability even when I wasn’t. I kept coming on Sundays even after Devon lost a close fight to Stots.
“About three or four months into it just coming in on Sundays Gotto said to me you got to do this tournament. I looked at him like he was crazy, like I don’t even know what I’m doing man. I don’t know how to grapple. He made fun of me and told me to take them down, smash their guard and I’d win. I was really unsure, but he talked me into it after about three weeks.
“And I won. With just wrestling training and listening to Gotto. They were pretty sore losers about it, but I wasn’t going to let it steal my joy. So, then Gotto was like you got to do this MMA thing man. You can’t sit and wait around for wrestling. You could make some money, be a star, you got to commit to this MMA thing. Use your skills, start training.
“I signed up at Red’s. I met Red, Scotty, Solo. I stayed there all through my amateur career. It was really a great experience for me. Having that support, having people who are going to help you develop your skills so you can progress in this sport. I’m super grateful and thankful to those guys as well as Gotto for talking that shit and getting me into this.”
What separates you from other fighters?
“Number one I have the utmost belief in myself. I believe highly in my skills. Secondly, work ethic. The biggest thing though is my adaptability. I’m able to adapt anybody or any style. A lot of people when you look at MMA they are not well rounded. They focus on maybe just striking, grappling or wrestling or maybe just two of them, but they are not well rounded. One trick ponies. I’m not a one trick pony. A lot of people don’t even realize I can wrestle because my striking is so strong. It’s the ability to take the fight wherever I want it.””
Tell us about your recent trip to Thailand.
“I went last year. I went to Phuket Top Team so I could focus just on Muay Thai. Take a mini vacation so I could take some time off of fighting but still grow and develop myself. I wanted to take in some new experiences. I was there for almost five weeks. From the minute I got off the plane I went straight to it and was working hard. I was doing three classes a day as well as a private lesson.
“I was really wary when I first got there because everyone was so happy. Everyone was so smiley. Where I grew up the people who do the most harm to you are the ones that are smiling at you. They get you to let your guard down and stab you in the back when you’re not looking. So, I was really uncomfortable at first. I was in somewhat of a tourist area and I told the guy man everyone is too smiley smiley. It’s got me nervous, take me to the slums, the project, the hood man. That’s where I’m from and I’ll feel more comfortable there.
“He told me no Thai people are super nice. It’s part of the culture. If you’re not happy if you’re not smiling there’s something wrong with you. Don’t walk around angry. The saying is the time you spend walking around angry or depressed is time wasted.
“I was training hard over there and met some really cool people. They would take me anywhere I wanted to go, the night market or the beach. They really embraced me and showed me a good time. Saturday nights after the gym would close we would go the fights at the stadiums. They’d take me there so early, I didn’t understand why at first. The reason though was that’s when the kid fights happen. Kid’s fights are the best ones of the evening. They have so much more heart.
“These guys really pushed a minimalist lifestyle. I was looking at all these poor kids. While I had six brand new pairs of shoes with me for this trip some of them had never had shoes in their life. I was like what it was wrong with me. The biggest kicker to me was these kids even though they were poor and had nothing their confidence was unmatchable. I looked at myself and was like I don’t have nearly the confidence level of some of these kids. These kids in spite of everything seemed so happy. Without all the materialistic shit. He was content with himself. It really changed my mindset and how I view life.
“It really reminded me of the value of family. Family is everything. A lot of those kids that fight, they fight for their families. It made me realize I got to get serious. These kids don’t mess around. You see it in their training, in their fights, they don’t play around. Your success is up to you.”