When Frank Camacho needed an opponent on less than 72 hours notice, Justin Jaynes stepped in and made the most of his opportunity.
“Guitar Hero” got to make his long awaited octagon debut at UFC on ESPN 11, finishing the tough and durable Camacho is just 41 seconds to earn his first UFC win, along with an extra $50,000 for “Performance of the Night.”
Taking a short notice fight is nothing new for the 30-year-old Jaynes. In fact, the Xtreme Couture standout began his MMA career at the age of 17 in Michigan. After 47 amateur bouts—and fighting multiple nights during a single week in some cases—Jaynes knew the fighting path was the one he was born to take.
The mentality he learned in the less than glamorous world of unsanctioned fighting sticks with him today. In Jaynes’ opinion, he’s one of the few remaining fighters who looks at the sport in that way.
“We used to call those the ‘Wild Wild West’ days if you were around during that time,” Jaynes told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “Those were the good old days, honestly. Those were the times where people fought because they wanted to see who the toughest mother f’er was.
“All these business men nowadays—these 20 to 25-year-old kids—are coming up, ‘Oh, I want to handpick my opponents. I have an edge on him.’ F*ck that! We used to show up at the bar, ‘You’re tough. You’re tough. How much do you weigh? I weigh the same, let’s fight and let’s see who is tougher.’ I feel like MMA is getting away from that. Everyone sees the Conor McGregors talking sh*t, handpicking their opponents. I feel like I’m one of last generation of that kind of fighter who fought just to see who the baddest guy was.”
After 19 professional appearances, putting together a four-fight streak of opening round finishes, and winning nine out of his last 10, it was long overdue for the Michigan-born fighter to get the call.
With fights in multiple regional promotions around the U.S., Jaynes walked to hallowed octagon and didn’t feel those jitters most debutantes before him have described.
“It was like any other fight,” Jaynes explained. “I feel like I deserved to be here for the last couple of years. I’ve been at Xtreme Couture since 2009 and I’ve trained with the best-of-the-best. I’ve trained with world champions. I know where I belong. I know how tough I am, so when I got in the octagon, it was the first time that I can remember that I wasn’t nervous.
“Those fights on the regional scene were nerve wracking because it doesn’t matter who you’re fighting. Everybody has a puncher’s chance and I’ve fought at 170 and 185. I’m not knockoutable—if that’s even a word. I knew Frank and I were going to get into a phone booth and one of us was going down. I, obviously, hoped it was him. But when I was in the cage and Bruce Buffer was introducing me, I was shaking my head thinking, ‘Yup, I’m supposed to be here mother f*cker.’”
Jaynes told his coaches before the fight began that he would be swinging for the fences until his opponent was knocked out, or he ran out of gas and would, ultimately, suffer the same fate. Both men were looking for a highlight reel, with the newcomer gaining the upper hand, stunning his opponent. After a flurry of devastating punches, the fight was stopped.
The respect he had for Camacho was already through the roof. After those 41 seconds, it grew even more.
“I have hit some people as hard as I can in my life and Frank has one of the best chins (in the sport),” Jaynes said. “He was out on his feet briefly, and even when the referee separates us he still tries to throw a punch. F*ckin hats off to him, man. He’s one of the toughest S.O.B.’s I’ve ever stepped in the cage with. I hit him with 100-percent power shots four, five, six times.
“Hats off to Herb Dean for stepping in there when he did because Frank wasn’t going to quit.”
Now that he has that elusive first UFC win under his belt, Jaynes has a list of fighters that are on his radar—including a fellow Michigan-bred fighter on the roster who owns a victory over Jaynes from their high school wrestling days.
“I’ve got a hit list,” Jaynes stated. “Drakkar Klose—I think that would be a great fight. I would love to fight Drakkar because we have history since 2007.
“Austin Hubbard, man, that would be sweet. He’s coming off a win, I’m coming off a win on the same show. I’d like to fight him, probably, the most. He beat my friend Max (Rohskopf) and I would like to redeem that loss.
“If me and my manager decide to go to 145—which could happen because I’m only like 5’3” so moving down is an option—I’d love to fight Alex Caceres. He’s a great name, great fighter, has a lot of experience, and has a two-fight win streak. If I decide to move down, I’d love to get a shot at him, a true veteran of the sport. Those are the three names on my list and hopefully by August I’d like to be back in there.”