Jumeau takes it to the next level


WHEN Luke Jumeau fi­nally broke into the UFC ear­lier this year, he ticked off a life­long goal.

But hav­ing passed his first test in the world’s premier mixed mar­tial arts pro­mo­tion with fly­ing colours, don’t ex­pect him just to be happy to be there.

The 29-year-old Hamil­ton wel­ter­weight cel­e­brated be­com­ing just the sec­ond New Zealand­based fighter in the UFC, along­side Dan Hooker, in June with an en­ter­tain­ing unan­i­mous de­ci­sion over Amer­i­can Do­minique Steele.

The re­sult in Auck­land was the cul­mi­na­tion of years of hard work, fight­ing in var­i­ous pro­mo­tions around the globe. Jumeau made his pro­fes­sional de­but in 2008 and had 14 more bouts be­fore the UFC came call­ing, urged on by a so­cial me­dia cam­paign af­ter he went on a six­fight tear.

Jumeau al­ways backed his abil­ity but the win over Steele so­lid­i­fied his be­lief that not only does he be­long on the big stage, but that he can com­pete with the top 10 of the di­vi­sion.

Now he plans to prove it to the rest of the world.

‘‘I just want to let ev­ery­one know that I’m out there to make a state­ment,’’ Jumeau told Sun­day News.

‘‘I’m not just there to have a few fights, win or lose a cou­ple. The jour­ney to get here is tough and I want to make the most of it. Get­ting to the UFC is like win­ning the lot­tery but it’s only the be­gin­ning.’’

Jumeau takes the next step in his jour­ney this week when he heads to Ja­pan to face lo­cal fighter Shin­sho An­zai at the UFC Fight Night on Saturday.

The card is head­lined by a top10 light heavy­weight show­down be­tween Mauricio Rua and Ovince Saint Preux.

Whereas Jumeau had the lux­ury of mak­ing his de­but on home soil, the shoe will be on the other foot against An­zai with the event tak­ing place at the 22,500 ca­pac­ity Saitama Su­per Arena.

That is of lit­tle con­cern to Jumeau, who has fought in cities such as Dubai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. He will also be joined in Ja­pan by his all-Kiwi cor­ner of fel­low wel­ter­weight Matt Vaile, Com­mon­wealth Games wrestler Aaron Quin­lan and Carlo Meis­ter, owner of Core MMA where Jumeau trains.

While An­zai has split his two bouts in the UFC, he holds an over­all record of 9-2, in­clud­ing seven stop­pages. The 31-year-old comes from a grap­pling back­ground and is sim­i­lar in style to Steele, which helped with Jumeau’s prepa­ra­tion.

But ‘The Jedi’ tries not to get bogged down in what his op­po­nent may bring to the oc­tagon. PHOTOSPORT

Hav­ing not tasted de­feat in his last seven fights dat­ing back to 2013, it is clearly an ap­proach that works.

‘‘I’ve seen two of his fights but that’s all I need,’’ Jumeau said.

‘‘I pre­fer to re­act in real time to my op­po­nents rather than try­ing to im­ple­ment game plans. Some­times it can throw things out when you fo­cus on a game plan and when you’re ac­tu­ally in front of that per­son they’re dif­fer­ent.’’

A well-rounded fighter with five of his 12 pro wins by KO and four via sub­mis­sion, Jumeau won plenty of ad­mir­ers for his ac­tion­packed bout against Steele.

But he knows the best way to boost his pro­file is to de­liver an early fin­ish.

‘‘They’re [UFC] not look­ing for bor­ing fights and I’m not try­ing to go out there to make a bor­ing fight,’’ Jumeau said. ‘‘I’ll put ev­ery­thing on the line and I’ll go out there look­ing for a fin­ish the way I al­ways do. That’s just go­ing to open the doors even more for me. If I put on good per­for­mances and get fin­ishes that will cat­a­pult me [up the rank­ings].’’

‘ I just want to let ev­ery­one know that I’m out there to make a state­ment.’ LUKE JUMEAU

Hamil­ton wel­ter­weight Luke Jumeau has done the hard yards as he looks to ad­vance his UFC ca­reer.

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