If there was ever a super prospect in the sport of MMA, one would have to consider Bubba Jenkins for that role. An All-American in college wrestling for Penn State and Arizona State, Jenkins brought his elite-level grappling chops from the wrestling mats to the proverbial squared circle.

Upon his arrival to an MMA gym, the buzz around Jenkins grew to an all-time high. He was a combination of sick athleticism, powerful wrestling and great quickness. Hardcore fans salivated at the thoughts of Jenkins developing into a mixed martial artist of the future, a lightweight version of a Jon Jones or Cain Velasquez.

Jenkins brought his game to South Beach, Fla., and set up shop at American Top Team. The camp’s reputation for housing some of the best fighters in the world, as well as some of the best coaches, gave him a shot at becoming a stud early in his MMA journey.

Jenkins (Will Fox/Sherdog)

“American Top Team has helped me tremendously,” Jenkins told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “They’ve built a lot of great fighters, champions and future champions. Dan Lambert and Ricardo Liborio are making sure I develop at a good pace.”

A good pace is certainly a good way to put it. At 4-0, Jenkins has quickly developed into a top prospect at lightweight. His first three fights saw complete domination, with Jenkins claiming victory in all three in the first round. Even his last outing, which saw him go into the second round, was impressive due to the light he shed on aspects of his game beyond the wrestling.

“I have a different mentality than other wrestlers,” Jenkins explained. “Even when I was wrestling, I was different because of my overall mentality. That’s why I think I’ve developed faster than other wrestlers coming into this sport.”

In his last fight, his Bellator debut, Jenkins took on the scrappy Mike Barreras. Though he used some powerful takedowns and wrestling in that fight, fans were able to see some of Jenkins’ handy work on the feet. Of course, if you watched the fight, you would have seen some improved striking and great, natural power that he throws with ease. It is a part of his game that he is continuing to develop.

“My striking is where it needs to be for where I am in my career,” he said. “My fight with Mike Barreras made me want to stand more. I got a taste for striking on the feet, so I think you will see even more striking in my next bout.”

In the aftermath of that victory, Jenkins now has another test in front of him. Though widely unknown by the average fan, LaRue Burley is in fact undefeated and a threat to Jenkins’ own unblemished record.

“LaRue Burley is a tough guy, a game fighter. He’s a hard hitter and a good athlete, so I’m really excited to fight him,” Jenkins admitted. “Those are his biggest strengths, and his biggest weakness was taking this fight with me.”

Many fans are anxious to see what a win will bring Jenkins with Bellator. Some believe that it’s only a matter of time before he is thrust into a lightweight tournament.

“I’m focused on my next fight. I don’t want to rush into anything,” Jenkins confessed. “If the people around me and myself feel I am ready, we’ll see what happens. I can’t get to 5-0 without getting to 4-0.”

Jenkins (black shorts) prepares to slam his opponent (Will Fox/Sherdog)

His short-term goals are to develop and continue to improve while staying undefeated. Even though it is the goal of many fighters to one day make it to the UFC, Jenkins wants to pump the brakes on that type of talk.

“That’s a tricky question, because I am happy with Bellator,” Jenkins admitted. “We have a great relationship, and I am excited for what Bellator’s got for me. I’m not focused on any organization other than Bellator.”

This year has not been the busiest for Jenkins in terms of activity. His fight with Burley will only be the second outing of the year for the All-American wrestler. However, Jenkins is eyeing a few more bouts in the near future.

“Five or six fights in 2014 would be cool with me, even though eight or nine would be great,” Jenkins said. “It just depends on how I feel and how many I can get.”

So, the MMA world will continue to keep an eye on this developing prospect with high hopes of him becoming a future champion. Winning is in his DNA. One day, we could see this former collegiate great with 10 pounds of gold around his waist.

Bubba would like to thank his management team, American Top Team with Dan Lambert, his jiu-jitsu coach Ricardo Liborio, his striking coaches and all future sponsors. Follow Jenkins on Twitter: 2sinsurrJenkins

Top Photo: Bubba Jenkins (top) looks to drop a right hand (Will Fox/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.