Dustin Jacoby determined to ‘own the moment’ like Justin Gaethje at UFC 296

Dustin Jacoby is always concentrated on the task at hand, but sometimes the focus is directed inward.

The mental side of the fight game has been a focus of Jacoby (19-7-1 MMA, 7-4-1 UFC) in recent fights, particularly in the wake of a successful attempt to snap a two-fight losing skid, which he did in August when he finished Kennedy Nzechukwu in 88 seconds.

“The last fight with Kennedy, I just felt no pressure, man,” Jacoby recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “I just felt like, ‘Go out there and have fun. Go out there and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the crowd. Enjoy the opportunity. Enjoy the experience.’ The fight could not have went any better. I was just in a really good mental zone for that camp and for that fight night. I told my coach right after, ‘If I can find that same zone every single time, I feel like I could be unbeatable.’

“That’s all it really is, is a mind state, a state of mind. Every fight is different. You try to reenact these things and recreate these moments but you can’t. Every moment is different. You’ve just got to go with the flow and prepare and hope for the best. I think that’s what I did in my last fight vs. Kennedy and it really showed. It was one of my best performances and it was a great night.”

In a profession largely determined by wins and losses, Jacoby admits it’s difficult to stay in the moment and focus on the process rather than results. But he knows when he does just that is usually when the best outcomes flourish.

In order to understand that mindset more, Jacoby modeled his composure after one of the most violent and exciting fighters in UFC history.

“You know what fired me up for that fight, too?” Jacoby questioned. “The week before, Justin Gaethje had fought in Salt Lake City. It was a big pay-per-view card in Salt Lake City. I remember just thinking of those fighters, and Gaethje, in particular. He goes out there and just owns the moment. It doesn’t matter what else is going on. It doesn’t matter how you feel or if you had a bad camp or you just didn’t get enough sleep the night before. None of that matters. All that matters is the 15 minutes you get the opportunity to go out there and showcase your skills. I completely just let everything go and I think that was it.”

Jacoby, 35, returns on Dec. 16 at UFC 296 when he battles Alonzo Menifield (14-3-1 MMA, 7-3-1 UFC) in an attempt to transform a standalone win into a two-fight streak. With his newfound mental solidity, Jacoby is confident and has top 10 aspirations in mind.

“I’m coming off a big win, but I’m still of that mindset that my back is against the wall,” Jacoby said. “I need to win this fight. I need to get back and keep my ranking at No. 14 and go into 2024 with that top 10 mindset, the mentality of getting into the top 10 and seeing what the opportunities (are) and what they may be.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 296.

A new episode of MMA Junkie Radio with hosts “Gorgeous” George and “Goze” is released every Monday and Thursday. You can stream or download all episodes over at Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, OmnyStudio, and more.

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