What was supposed to be a Friday morning training session turned into a brief run-in with the law for Jared Gordon and company.
Gordon was preparing to put in work at the Hard Knocks 365 gym in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the authorities intervened to enforce the recent restrictions on public gatherings in the state enacted to address the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The encounter was a cordial one, though Gordon was facing a possible arrest if he had decided to dig his heels in rather than relocate.
“I showed up there this morning to do some pads this morning and state troopers came in, like three straight troopers from Fort Lauderdale,” Gordon told MMA Fighting. “They looked like state troopers, they were on motorcycles and stuff, and they told us we have to leave. They were like, ‘This is a national emergency, you’re absolutely subject to arrest.’ But they were nice about it. They forced us out and the building’s also shared with an NFL combine training center and the NFL guy was like, ‘We don’t get shut down unless the NFL says that we’re shut down.’ And the cops are like, ‘No, you have to leave now.’ So they left also.
“We just went to a local park, like an astroturf field. Hit some pads, got some sprints in, did what we could, but you know it’s not the same as being in the gym, obviously. Our training is compromised to say the least.”
Gordon’s group included coach Henry Hooft, UFC veteran Michael Johnson, and ONE Championship titleholders Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen. He estimates that there were only about 10 people attempting to work out at the gym, but that was still more than enough to draw the attention of the local authorities.
Currently, Gordon is living full time in Florida with his fiancee Christina. For a while, he’s been putting in work both at Hard Knocks 365 and its affiliate Sanford MMA, with the latter gym seemingly unaffected by the new precautions at first due to it being located in a medical facility. However, even that location is beginning to make entry more exclusive as the COVID-19 situation escalates.
With the whole world on notice and several UFC events already postponed, Gordon is concerned that his upcoming bout with Matt Sayles scheduled for UFC San Diego on May 16 could be in jeopardy. And even if it isn’t, all of these changes are making his return to the featherweight division more difficult.
“It seems to me like it’s just gonna get worse,” Gordon said. “New York, California, the whole state was put on lockdown. I’m supposed to fight there in May and I know my opponent lives in California, so how is he supposed to train? You can’t expect guys to be on lockdown for weeks and then fight, it’s just not fair.
“I’m just going with the flow, trying to do what I can, stay in shape. I also have to cut weight, I’m moving down. When I fought at ‘55, I had to cut weight to ‘55, now I’m going to ‘45, I have to cut that extra weight, so I really need to be dieting and training really hard. I can’t be missing sessions. I don’t know how this is all going to play out. Hopefully, it gets better, but I have a feeling that it’s just going to get worse before it gets better.”
Back home, Gordon says his mother is “freaking out” and his father is still working at the wholesale hardware company he owns. His fiancee Christina, an American Ninja Warrior competitor, is having to deal with the shuttering of her gym.
Gordon isn’t complaining about the measures being taken. In fact, he’s already been preparing for weeks to deal with the social consequences of the coronavirus.
“When this started happening, like, three weeks ago—I’m like a little crazy, I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘prepper’ but I spent about $3,000,” Gordon said. “I bought tons of supplies, tons of non-perishable food items, Pedialyte, Gatorade, a bunch of water, tons of food. I bought months worth of dog food because I’ve got two dogs. I bought an extra firearm, a handgun. I bought tons of ammunition. I have some other larger weapons. I bought tons of ammo for all of my weapons.
“I live in Florida, everyone here has guns. Stuff gets crazy in Florida. When you hear weird stuff happens, it’s always in Florida. I live in southern Florida, so when you come here it’s like it’s not really a redneck state, but it is a redneck state, and everyone has guns legally and illegally. I’ve got to protect. My brother also lives here, like 10 minutes north of me, he’s got three kids and he’s also all stocked up. My soon-to-be mother in law lives here. I just feel like I’m the man, me and my brother, we’ve got to protect our family. We’re pretty prepared, I think.”
Like many Americans, there’s not a lot Gordon can do but sit and wait to see how current events unfold. As of now, his fight with Sayles is on until Dana White says it isn’t and that suits Gordon just fine.
“A lot of people are criticizing the UFC, like, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t be putting people at risk,’” Gordon said. “But we’ve gotta get paid. We have to fight in order to make a living so I’m really hoping that I’m gonna be fighting May 16, so I’m doing whatever I can to fight. I applaud Dana White and the UFC for doing whatever they can to make these fights happen, but at the end of the day the government can stop us from doing that.
“I’m just hoping that we can all fight and make a living, so we’re doing what we can as a team. We’re all staying in touch, we have a big group message that all the teammates are on. We’re all just kind of figuring it out as we go. This is a new frontier for the whole world. It’s an unprecedented event, we’ve never really faced anything like this on a global level, I think the whole world just doesn’t really know what’s gonna happen or how this will play out. I think we’re doing a good job though as a country and as a world collaboration, it seems like we’re—maybe not ahead of the curve—but we’re doing what we can to figure this out.”