Like most of you last weekend, I watched Bellator, excited for their offering to the fight week. We then got treated to a young and humble heavyweight, put in a tough spot for a debut, thrill us and make us laugh. He was animated, loud, smiling and helped us get excited for a fight others were overlooking. A meat plant worker with dreams of MMA glory. A man who not only works hard for his family, but fights for them too.
The fight didn’t quite go to plan for T.J. Jones, however he stood like a warrior no matter what. Plus, the fight added some fun controversy by the end that sent the crowd into a shower of boos. The fight ended in a first-round submission by 1-0 Jake Hager, improving him to 2-0. However, it would be the same choke that, coupled with T.J.’s magnetic personality, has us still talking about this fight well into the next week.
When pictures of Jake Hager and his 1-1 opponent T.J. Jones first hit the net early in fight week. They went viral amid jokes like “What bar stool did they find that guy on?” or “Look , Jack Swagger is fighting Jack Black.” The jokes pretty much ended by Friday and attention then turned to T.J.’s personality. He joked, poked fun at himself, and even Jake talked a little smack. The fight itself was not exactly what T.J. planned, but he certainly got our attention. I was very pleasantly surprised by T.J.’s quick response to my request for an interview. The two of us sat and chatted via Facebook, and I could easily see T.J.’s electric personality shine through in every response.
J.J. Poland, from MMA Tribune: “First what has it been like since the big T.V. debut?”
T.J.- “A lot of attention, but it has been a very cool experience.”
What if anything do you feel you could have done differently?
T.J.- “Practice more wrestling, and throw more punches,” T.J. responded with laughter.
I think what everyone wants to know is, did the choke being held long piss you off, or leave you feeling disrespected?
T.J.- “Piss me off? Yes, it did. However I hold no grudge.”
Did you talk to Jake about it after the fight or was it just left in the cage?
T.J.- “We did speak in the cage and out of it. I told him the same thing I said in the post fight press conference. You have to be professional, holding a choke like that, after the ref is pulling you off is a bullshit thing to do. In the back, we shook hands, took a few pictures and went our separate ways.”
You were pretty rambunctious at the weigh-ins and press conference. Is that you being you or living it up in the moment?
T.J.- “Me being me. I loved it all, every second of it. I was very blessed.”
You seem pretty upbeat despite the loss. Do you think you learned a lot from the fight and the experience? Or was it just another day at the office?
T.J.- “I wasn’t supposed to be there, I hit the fighter’s lotto if you will. In life you win or you learn – I learned so much from the amazing fighters on the card, and from the staff, and from the legends of the sport. If I take everything into account, I didn’t lose anything. I gained a lifetime of knowledge.”
So, what’s next for you? New training plans or what?
T.J.- “Training camp starts tomorrow, and we’re looking at a few options at the moment. Nothing is set.”
Are there any plans or talk of us seeing you again in Bellator anytime soon?
T.J.- “There have been some rumors that I’ll be back in Bellator, but no official word.”
I bet it was hard to return to work after a fight week, and all the fun and attention.
T.J.- “Very damn hard.” TJ answered with a big laugh.
Have you been getting a lot of attention at work and from the family.
T.J.- “I’ve gotten a lot of attention, but work is work. I only care what my family feels.”
Did you take the family to fight week or did they watch from home?
T.J.-“No I missed them the whole week, but I fight for them so it’s easier.”
Thank you so much for the interview and for a great fight!
T.J – “It was a lot of fun, and it means the world. Thank you!”
All in all, it’s obvious T.J. is exactly who he was at the press conferences and weigh-ins – a fun, happy, electric personality, and a hard working family man. If the controversy from the fight gets him more attention, I for one am glad. T.J. is the kind of guy we want our warrior heroes to be; charismatic, honest, humble and hard working. I hope we see a lot more from T.J Jones, and hopefully plenty of success finds him