Every competitor is on the prowl, hunting for that breakout moment to fulfill their destiny in becoming one of the best in MMA. August 28 will grant a bulk of rising talents a career-defying opportunity at NWFA: Retribution. It’s been a decade-long fight journey for JT Donaldson. 3-5 in his pro standing, there have been many hurdles Donaldson has had to overcome in his fight career. However, his determination has yet to be extinguished. Laser-focused, Donaldson’s upcoming battle at “Retribution” is said to be the resurgence in his rise to the top.
A story hell-bent on success, Donaldson reveals all in this exclusive MYMMANEWS interview.
There is always an incentive that inspires one to become a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. I usually ask how one becomes inspired. However, I want to ask you, when did you realize the fight life was for you?
JT Donaldson: “Martial arts have always been a part of my life. My grandparents got me started at age 5 to help curb emotional issues stemming from a rough upbringing in my first few years of life. I was never really cut out for mainstream sports, so I stuck with Skateboarding and Martial Arts. When I was 14, I started BJJ and watched my first UFC at a friend’s house party. I believe one fight on that card was GSP vs. Koscheck 1. After seeing my first show, I knew it would always be a part of my life.”
Throughout your professional career, you have had your share of challenges with more defeats than victories. How do those losses help motivate JT Donaldson?
JT Donaldson: “My pro career got off to a rough start even though I had a pretty extensive amateur career, including winning ISCF Championship. I’ve never had an easy opponent or fight. To me, losses are only losses if you don’t learn from them. Anyone who knows me knows I’m incredibly persistent and willing to do what it takes to get on top, no matter how long it takes. This game is a marathon, and I am in it for the long haul.”
You’re absolutely correct about this game being a marathon, and many fighters forget that premise. What is it about this fight life that makes you committed to the long-haul journey?
JT: “I belong in this industry. I don’t see myself doing anything else, and being as happy as fighting makes me. I’m in the pursuit of excellence, a competition with myself to be better than I was the day before. The best part is, you can never be perfect.”
Your next battle will be at NWFA Retribution against Ali Jafri. What do you feel gives you the edge over your opponent heading into this fight?
JT Donaldson: “My overall fight experience and training discipline will give me the edge in this fight. I also believe that I have a superior fight IQ compared to most people in my weight class. Ali is a game opponent with finishing capability. That being said, I don’t believe he has fought the same caliber of opponents that I have. Everyone has a puncher’s chance, respectively. Utilizing my IQ will be my key to victory.”
You have a group of fantastic trainers in Pleasanton at Resistance FC and Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu helping you throughout your career. How has the training been going in preparation for this upcoming fight?
JT Donaldson: “The training has been amazing. I feel that we have left no stone unturned, and all the bases are covered. Training with the Resistance has definitely brought my passion back for the sport and elevated my game to the next level. The team as a whole can be credited for these gains. We hold each other accountable day in and day out.”
Are you viewing this as just another challenge to overcome, or is there another source of importance that makes wining a priority on August 28?
JT Donaldson: “From 2016-May 2021, I had a severe down streak with the sport that did nothing except motivate me to work smarter until I could put the pieces together and get it right. May 29, I was able to break that streak. I feel like I am making up for the lost time. With my current mentality, it will take a lot more than a man standing across the cage from me to take me out. When I show up and connect my mind, body, and spirit, I can beat any man in the world. Next year I plan on having my professional title across my waist. I’m hell-bent on success.”
You have had a small taste of the big stage. What will it take for JT Donaldson to reach that stage again?
JT Donaldson: “Keeping the win streak going will be my key back to the big stage, whether it be a re-run with Bellator or a call to the UFC. I’ll fight whoever it takes to get me there. I am light years better than I was when I last fought on the big stage. Keep lining them up, and I will keep knocking them down.”
Finally, what makes JT Donaldson a must-watch fighter?
JT Donaldson: “My heart, tenacity, and technical ability. I’m one of the most technical well-rounded fighters that is not currently signed to a big organization. So far, I’ve only shown a fraction of what I am capable of. Given the opportunity, I will always put on a show for the fans.”