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.