Just months before he entered the cage in his professional bout in Dec. 2011, Bubba Jenkins was winning a national championship for Arizona State University’s wrestling program in the 157-pound division. Alongside teammate Anthony Robles, who won the championship at 125 pounds, Jenkins was developing a drive that would continue to fuel success long after his days as a Sun Devil were over.

“I miss the life that I had at Arizona State. It was a beautiful time at a beautiful campus with beautiful people,” said Jenkins, who has been competing in Bellator’s featherweight division since the summer of 2013.

ASU’s wrestling has produced several high-level MMA fighters in recent history such as Ryan Bader, Cain Velasquez and C.B. Dolloway, but that isn’t a surprise to Jenkins.“I would say that it’s just the grind that we are in to,” said Jenkins.

“If you look at the sport of MMA, wrestlers are taking over,” Jenkins said. “And it’s because of the grind that we’re used to. It’s because once we understand what we’re doing or how to dominate a situation, we’ll never forget it.”

Jenkins’ transition to MMA began with a perfect 4-0 record including a TKO finish in his Bellator debut against Mike Barreras. His fifth professional fight against Larue Burley, however, would be the setback Jenkins would describe as necessary for his recent success.

“It (the loss) was definitely needed. It was definitely something that opened my eyes to understanding that I’m fighting on this professional level. This is something that I have to, this is something I get after, and this is something I need to take seriously.” Jenkins said.

“I can’t treat it like it’s just a collegiate sport or treat it like I’m the only one in the sport trying to feed their family. It’s a sport that everyone is trying to excel at.”

Since the loss the to Burley, Jenkins has won four consecutive fights under the Bellator banner and is now facing his toughest competition to date: former World Series of Fighting featherweight champion Georgi Karakhanyan.

Karakhanyan has compiled a 23-4 career record and two of his losses have come from current Bellator champions: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Joe Warren. A decorated grappler, Karakhanyan is dangerous on the ground and his 13 submission victories are simply proof of that threat.

Although Jenkins expressed his respect for Karakhanyan and he described opponent as his toughest challenge so far, Jenkins’ confidence could never be higher.

“I see this fight going wherever I want to take it. I create the pace. I create what we’re going to do, I’ll dictate the dance and it will be played with my music at my pace,” Jenkins said.

If Jenkins has his way at Bellator 132, we’ll see exactly where that leads us toward and once the dust settles at the Pechanga Resort and Casino on Friday night, we could be looking at a future of the promotion’s featherweight division.

About The Author

Blane Ferguson
Associate Editor/Senior Staff Writer

Blane can trace his MMA roots, like many others, to the finale of the first Ultimate Fighter season between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. After watching that incredible fight and cleaning the local Blockbuster of any recorded UFC pay-per-views they had, Blane was hooked on watching the sport and he carried that passion with him to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Blane is a four-year broadcasting veteran of ASU's campus radio including a founder and co-host of the station's combat sports show, The Final Round.