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Jalin Turner poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at Moody Center on December 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
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Jalin Turner Continues To Overcome

Rising Lightweight Jalin Turner Is Staying Locked In On His Climb Up The Lightweight Ladder At UFC 300: Pereira vs Hill

Full disclosure, Jalin Turner hasn’t downloaded his character in the EA UFC 5 video game yet, but being in the virtual world for all eternity is a pretty nice sign that he’s made it, even if he may not necessarily agree.

“I never really looked at it like that,” he said. “Everything that comes along with this career choice, I'm thankful for it, but I always feel like they’re just things that come with what I chose to do with my life.”

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He is pretty good, though. I tell him I beat fellow lightweight contender Michael Chandler with him just before our interview. 

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“That's right,” he laughs. “Let's go.”

In all seriousness, though, the 28-year-old has been so locked in on his voyage up the 155-pound ladder that he’s had no time for video games, or dog training…maybe a little skateboarding, but that’s it. So when you ask whether fighting on the UFC 300 card this weekend is a big deal, a different answer surfaces.

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“UFC 300 is definitely a big deal,” Turner said. “It's a historic card. I remember watching UFC 200 and just being hyped for the card and all the fighters that were on it, and now actually being in the UFC and being a part of 300, it's a little mind boggling, but, at the same time, I’ve got to go in there and perform and do my job.”

Jalin Turner punches Dan Hooker of New Zealand in a lightweight fight during the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Jalin Turner punches Dan Hooker of New Zealand in a lightweight fight during the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Currently ranked tenth in the world, Turner ended an interesting 2023 campaign on a high note on December 2 when he halted Bobby Green in less than three minutes. Earlier that year, the Californian dropped a pair of split decisions to Mateusz Gamrot and Dan Hooker, and while he originally planned to stay on the sidelines until 2024, when he got called to replace Hooker on short notice against Green, he took the fight…and rolled the dice.

“Anytime you step in there, it's a dice roll; you just always prepare for the odds to be in your favor,” said Turner. “But yeah, if I didn't go in there and perform how I did, I don't think this opportunity would've come up like it did to be on the UFC 300 card. At the same time, who knows, because they always know I come and put on a show and perform. So maybe.”

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Or if his two-fight losing streak turned to three, perhaps he would be on the outside looking in at the rankings and wondering what was next. 

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“I knew that I had to win, and I knew I had a lot of things going against me, like dropping those last two close decisions,” he said. “It lit a good fire under me and it helped me more than it hurt me. And a lot of people said that it raised my stock, so hearing all those affirmations really helped me a lot and gave me the confidence to go and perform, even on short notice, because I wasn't in the best shape, but I was training pretty diligently, so I had to roll the dice again and play my cards and see how they came out. And I came out with an ace, got the finish in the first round, got back to my winning ways, and got back in the win column in my first time co-main eventing any UFC event. So that was awesome.”

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Turner was sharp that night, reminding everyone in the division that they stand with “The Tarantula” at their own peril. And with the planets in his world aligned again, he turns his sights to Brazil’s Moicano, who has won two straight while becoming a fan favorite due to a more vocal “Money Moicano” persona. Does the laid-back Turner believe Moicano will start a little trash talking this week in Las Vegas.

Mateusz Gamrot of Poland and Jalin Turner trade punches in a lightweight fight during the UFC 285 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Mateusz Gamrot of Poland and Jalin Turner trade punches in a lightweight fight during the UFC 285 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“I think he is,” said Turner. “I think he's going to try to pull those cards, but it doesn't matter to me. I just don't let the talk faze me. Even when I fought Bobby (Green), Bobby was talking in the Octagon, and I've been in gyms where people try to talk to me during sparring. It's all good. If that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do. I'm preparing to go to battle, go have fun, go do my job, go get my hand raised, and all that talk, I don't know who that talk is for. I don't know if it's some self-confidence building or some boost that they need. But when I go in there, I'm going to be silent, quiet, and handle my business, get the job done, get my hand raised. That's it.”

Then maybe some video games. Or maybe not, because Jalin Turner still has work to do.

“There's a multitude of ways I stay hungry,” he said. “It's realizing that the division gets tougher. As I progress, the challenges get bigger and that excites me and that makes me want to be better. I have to be better in order to maintain these positions. Even when I fought Bobby, I was thinking I have to show the world why I deserve to be in this position, why I am in the top of the division. And that's how it's always been. There's been highs, there's lows, in-betweens, and every time I've had those, I've always overcome. Every time I got to a high and something set me back, I rose to the occasion again and I grew. And I will continue to do that until I have that number one next to my name and that ‘C’ next to my name.”

 

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