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Jalin Turner will never forget Anderson Silva’s words of wisdom

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Jalin Turner
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Just 23 years old, Jalin Turner knows he has a lot of learning to do.

Considering that he recently received some first-hand wisdom from Anderson Silva, he’s not off to a bad start.

His MMA career is trending upwards as well. Turner’s Octagon debut was one to forget, a short-notice knockout loss to the more experienced Vicente Luque at UFC 229, a bout that also took place at 170 pounds, a class above Turner’s usual weight. He was given a second chance to make a first impression at UFC 234 on Feb. 10 in Melbourne, Australia, and he made the most of it, needing just 53 seconds to KO Callan Potter in a lightweight bout.

The win capped off a memorable week for Turner, who had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the UFC’s stars in the days leading up to the fight, none more influential than Silva. Faced with one of his idols, Turner found himself in a brief, one-sided chat, and what Silva said will stick with him for the rest of his life.

“He spoke to me. I didn’t even really ask him anything. But I’ll never forget what he said,” Turner recently told MMA Fighting. “He said, ‘The secret is love.’ I didn’t understand it, I was like, ‘What?’ He was like, ‘Love what you do. Love fighting. I love fighting, I love this.’

And it didn’t click at first. My coach, my professor Sean Ruiz, he was like, ‘I want you to remember those words every time you flip that switch: love what you do.’ Damn, that really hit home, you know? I just remembered all that throughout the weight cut, through everything, I was like, ‘Damn, I love this shit. Even though I hate cutting weight, I hate all that. I love going out there, I love being in that cage, I love the atmosphere, I love the attention. Just putting on a show for people.”

Two fights into his UFC career, Turner is learning fast how crazy the sport can be. At UFC 229, he was on the prelims of a card headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, arguably the biggest fight in MMA history. Then at UFC 234, he saw an entire card turned on its head when the main event between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum was canceled.

That meant scheduled co-headliners Silva and Israel Adesanya were now the top dogs on the show and Turner saw it as a privilege just to be in the same lineup as them.

“It was an honor, just a dream come true, Israel too,” Turner said. “I was watching Israel before he even got in the UFC and I was telling all my middleweight friends and I was like, ‘Keep your out for this guy, he’s going to be the next big thing,’ like way before. Lo and behold, he held my words true, so it was dope to see both of them battle and share the cage with each other.

“It was just a great experience seeing them, meeting them, talking to Anderson. Anderson’s a super cool dude, I kind of fanned out a little bit when I seen ‘em, but I tried to keep my cool. It was great. That was way bigger than fighting on the McGregor card for me.”

It could be a while before Turner sees his own name at the top of the marquee, but a few more performances like the one he put on at UFC 234 and he’ll advance up the cards quickly. A 6-foot-3 lightweight, “The Tarantula” is already hard to miss.

He already has plans for his next move: The UFC’s upcoming trip to Florida in April. Not only are he and his teammate angling to get booked for that show, but the timing would work perfectly for Turner, who is expecting a second child in June.

“I want to fight on the April 27 card in [Fort Lauderdale], with Roosevelt Roberts, with my boy. He’s trying to get on that card, so if I get on that card with him, that would be pretty dope,” Turner said. “Anything late April, early May, because I’ve got to have baby shower so my fiancee doesn’t want me to be cutting weight during the baby shower and be all mad and upset. Just got to time it right, whatever opportunity pops up.”