Rashaun Jackson is fighting for one person in particular in the Combat Night: Clash of the Titans main event bout on Saturday, July 24.
Jackson lost his grandfather, Bobby Johnson, who passed away last August. Johnson is one many loved ones Jackson lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting a title fight against former Dana White’s Contender Series Alum Austen Lane is a little relief after a tough year mentally. Jackson will dedicate his next fight inside the Caribe Royale Orlando, to his late grandfather.
“Every minute I’ve put into training has all been for him [Johnson].” Jackson said.
“I made a promise to my grandfather years ago, I was going to be the best.”
Rashaun Jackson is looking to fulfill a promise
The passing of Jackson’s grandfather sparked a change in the heavyweight’s training.
The Florida native made the decision to leave his job as a police officer and start mixed martial arts full time this year. The 34-year-old is now training six to eight hours a day at Fusion X-Cel Performance in Ocoee, Florida and at Ace MMA and Fitness in Orlando, Florida.
He is working alongside the liked of UFC talent Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Phillip Rowe and Mike Perry. For the first time in his MMA career, “Action” is a full-time MMA fighter.
“I quit my job, stopped doing everything and was literally like you know what, ‘That’s it,’” Jackson said. “I’m sparring with the best guys, training and traveling, getting it in with the best guys.”
Another big name
Jackson’s record is proof he is looking to fight high-level competition. He is coming off back-to-back defeats to current UFC heavyweights Chase Sherman and Chris Barnett.
Jackson most recently fought all three rounds to a split decision loss against Barnett at Island Fights 60 in October 2019.
He now faces Lane, a former NFL player. Lane is 9-3 with his first loss coming against current UFC heavyweight Greg Hardy on the Contender Series in June 2016.
After Jackson spent close to two years away from competition, a fight with Lane is a welcomed opportunity.
“I’m not expecting a knockout, not expecting a decision, I’m just expecting a good fight, however long it goes,” Jackson said. “I fought two big names, unfortunately did not go my way, now I’m fighting another big name and I’m just sitting here now like ,’Wow, OK, I’m getting great opportunities.’ It’s time to take this life seriously.”
A lot happened during the 21 months Jackson spent away from the cage. He suffered loss in his personal life and is still dealing with adversity from the pandemic.
Jackson also made changes for the better, feeling confident in his professional fighting career. He is sad to know his grandfather will be unable to ever see him fight inside the cage, but plans keep him in his mind on Saturday.
Jackson is all in and expects it to show against Lane
“When he [Johnson] passed, I literally went into a zone of training non stop,” Jackson said. “I already know me and him [Lane] are going to go at it.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.