Bellator Lightweight Tourney Winner Dave Jansen Knows He Has “Detractors”, But Success “Didn’t Happen By Accident”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Dave Jansen has done nothing but win since he signed with Bellator, and if the veteran’s arrival went unnoticed by some observers in 2011, what the lightweight has accomplished since has been kind of hard to miss. Jansen is coming off a unanimous decision win over Marcin Held earlier this month to win Bellator’s latest lightweight tourney, which was also the WEC vet’s sixth straight win.
“I’m really not in this to make other people happy,” Jansen told Full Contact Fighter recently, while discussing the tournament win and whether it felt good to prove the doubters wrong. “It’s really kind of a selfish endeavour, but it does feel good being the captain of my own ship, and making this happen. It didn’t happen by accident.”
Jansen scored a submission win over Magomed Saadulaev and then battled Ricardo Tirloni to split decision victory, before facing Held in the finals on March 21st. The finale was originally set to take place in December, but Held was not allowed by the Indiana Gaming Association to fight in the casino venue, because he was only 20 year’s old at the time.
“A lot of people have my back, and the people that know me, and are close to me, those are the ones where there opinions count,” the 33 year-old Jansen (19-2) furthered. “I do have a lot of detractors, but I can’t take that to heart, especially now, going into this fight with Michael Chandler, I like my chances.”
Although Jansen’s recent success has come at a time when Bellator’s profile has never been higher, thanks to its broadcasting deal with SPIKE, the Oregon fighter says he’s not being overrun by autograph seekers just yet.
“Most people here at home don’t recognize me but that’s okay,” said Jansen. “It’s not like I’m a celebrity overnight or anything. That’s not really what I’m looking for anyways, but I’m definitely getting more media requests, and definitely my biggest win. Winning a tournament like this, even with the delays, it feels really gratifying to see the hard work pay off.”
“I’ve had my ups and downs in my fight career and in life,” added Jansen. “I hope fans recognize that I’m a regular guy and that I’ve got my issues. Hopefully I can actually be an inspiration for others to go after their dreams. That’s what I’m doing myself and it’s paying off right now.”
Of course, in Held, Jansen took on and defeated one of the promotion’s fastest rising competitors. The Polish fighter had won five straight bouts, prior to facing Jansen, and advanced to the finale by tapping out UFC Rich Clementi with a highlight reel toe hold that was seen by many throughout the MMA world.
“I wasn’t surprised with his determination with the leglocks,” said Jansen, while discussing the feared submission artist’s continued leglock attempts, which were consistently met with strikes from above. “That’s kind of what I anticipated.”
“Once I escaped the first initial onslaught of leglocks I was comfortable,” added Jansen. “I felt with the training that I had done, just with Keisuke Andrew at Enso Jiu Jitsu, he’s just a phenomenal leglock master, and he really is a master, I don’t say that lightly…I think that’s what really did it for me. Rolling with him once or twice a week.”
The ground battle did not take place, however, until after the two engaged in a heated striking exchange to begin the fight.
“That was my plan B to use the ground-and-pound. He came out guns blazing in round one; his stand-up looked sharp,” noted Jansen. “It wasn’t like I was just underestimating his stand-up abilities, but that’s where I thought I had the advantage. Also going into it I was thinking my cardio would play a key and I think it did.”
The entire interview with Jansen can be heard in this week’s edition of Full Contact Fighter Radio