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Montel Jackson reacts after his victory over Jesse Strader in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX
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Montel Jackson Continues Moving Forward

Bantamweight Returns To The Octagon At UFC 281 After Fourteen Months Away Ready To Show The Work He Has Been Putting In Behind The Scenes 

It hasn’t been an easy 14 months for Montel Jackson since his last fight in September of 2021, but the Milwaukee bantamweight is still standing and ready to get back to work this Saturday against Julio Arce.

“You gotta hide yourself in the work,” said Jackson of his absence from the Octagon, which included bouts with COVID and pneumonia, as well as the deaths of several friends in the spring and summer. It’s not easy to work under those circumstances, but he believes he’s found the recipe to do it when it seems like the world is conspiring against him.

“I have the same intensity, self-discipline, being able to work well with others,” he said.

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That means when he squares off with Queens’ Arce this weekend, it will be the same Montel Jackson that has won two in a row over Jesse Strader and JP Buys, maybe even better. And he’ll be doing it in “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.

Montel Jackson punches JP Buys of South Africa in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX

Montel Jackson punches JP Buys of South Africa in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


“I'm gonna fight him the same way I fought all of them - nice, gritty, dirty,” he said. “Somewhat cunning and a little bit of technique, a little bit of smarts in there, but I'm gonna fight him. Tune in, come down and see it. Don't meet me there, beat me there.”

As laid-back as the 30-year-old can be, there will be flashes of a young man with the charisma and talent to not just be a player in the bantamweight division, but a star. Ask him if he’s ready for that, and you’ll laugh at his answer.

UFC 281 Countdown: Full Episode | Adesanya vs Pereira | Esparza vs Weili | Poirier vs Chandler

“I despise it all, man,” he deadpans. “I've been around famous people, and that s**t is no fun. It is no fun. It's really a nuisance to those people. Imagine you're just trying to have a nice dinner, tip the waiter and go home.”

Montel Jackson Scores A 1st-Round TKO | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Holland
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Montel Jackson Scores A 1st-Round TKO | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Holland
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Those days may be over soon for “Quik,” whether he likes it or not. He is 5-2 in the UFC and has shown flashes of brilliance, yet when asked where he sees himself today, he humbly responds, “A work in progress.”

That’s the attitude any up and comer needs, and Jackson has everything moving in the right direction. Add in a win in Madison Square Garden this weekend, and a lot more people might be asking to interrupt his dinner for a selfie or an autograph. But things like that aren’t at the forefront in his world.

WATCH: Free Fights From The Biggest Stars At UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira

"I already put a lot of pressure on myself,” he said of fighting in MSG. “I don't want to carry that. I just want to go in there, do what I do best, and come out on the other side safe and sound.

“I'm my biggest critic,” Jackson continues. “I don't want to be a pessimist, but if you want to be great, you got to watch out for everything.”

He’s done just fine for himself thus far, so he’s not going to allow himself to bask in the moment even a little bit?

“I don't even think about it now,” Jackson said. “I'll think about it when it's done.”

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 12, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass! 

 

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