Over eight years after his last UFC fight, Dustin Jacoby earned a second chance to compete in the octagon.
Jacoby picked up a unanimous decision over an ultra tough Ty Flores in the main event of Dana White’s Contender Series 27 on Tuesday night. The 32-year-old—along with lightweights Jordan Leavitt and Uros Medic—was awarded a contract from the UFC president, who admits he made the decision on the spot while speaking with Laura Sanko on the broadcast.
After an 0-2 run in his first UFC stint, which included a unanimous decision loss to Clifford Starks at UFC 137 in October 2011 and a submission loss to Chris Camozzi at UFC on FOX 2 in January 2012, Jacoby was released by the promotion. He spent time grinding away on the regional scene, as well as competing for promotions like WSOF and Bellator, along with competing in numerous kickboxing bouts for Glory.
Despite the rollercoaster road his career has brought him, Jacoby never have up on his dream of a second chance to compete in the UFC.
“That never crossed my mind,” Jacoby told reporters backstage after earning a contract. “I’m a grinder. I get what’s mine and I show up and work hard. Even back in 2018, I had back-to-back arm breaks and had to take some time off because I couldn’t get through practices. I didn’t want to be that guy. I’m not that guy. So I took a little time off and I knew I’d be back.”
Jacoby had Flores badly hurt through a lot of the first two rounds. Referee Herb Dean repeatedly shouted to Flores to “fight back” and, somehow, he was able to keep going despite the heavy damage done by Jacoby.
“The kid was super tough. I knew he would be,” Jacoby explained. “I really thought I was going to finish the fight. I haven’t been sleeping, I’ve been pacing in my room non-stop and I couldn’t wait to get out there. I fought with a lot of emotion and in that first round I was like, ‘God damn, this kid’s staying here.’
“Second round, I felt him going down—he kind of went out—and I just kept unloading on him, which kind of zapped me. I can’t say it enough, I’ve been pacing all day and I just wanted to finish the fight. I fought hard and did what it took to get the job done.”
For fans who have watched past seasons of the Contender Series, it’s no secret that White normally gives contracts to athletes who pick up highlight reel finishes. Jacoby was well aware of that following the win and wasn’t sure if it would be enough.
“I knew that I had beat the breaks off of him, I knew I was ahead and there was no doubt in my mind that I was gonna win,” Jacoby said. “As I sat there at the end, I knew he wanted a finish. I know he’s looking for finishes and I really didn’t know. I had my doubts after the fight. I knew I had won decisively but I know he wants finishes.
“I was just happy to get the [win] and I did what I came here to do. When Professor told me I got it, I was pumped.”
In June 2019, Jacoby returned to MMA after an over four-year absence under unique circumstances. For Colorado promotion Sparta Combat League, The Factory X fighter competed in a boxing match, kickboxing bout, and an MMA all in the same night—winning all three.
His MMA return came against former UFC heavyweight Cody East, earning a unanimous decision.
Competing on the Contender Series—and in MMA—Jacoby was quite happy to be able to open up his full arsenal, including the ability to throw elbows which were illegal in Glory.
“It felt awesome,” Jacoby stated. “I do like striking in boxing gloves better. I like the 10-ounce gloves compared to the MMA gloves. I remember my last MMA fight around a year ago against Cody East, my hands feel like they do right now because I punched him so many times. That’s something that’s a little bit different so I’ve got to get used to that again.
“I had fun in there. The elbows are always fun when you can unleash all weapons.”
Now that he is back in the UFC, Jacoby wants to take things one step at a time. One objective was accomplished on Tuesday night, but the main goal is to get his hand raised in the octagon for the first time.
“I think I just need to get comfortable in there,” Jacoby said. “I got this win, but it’s still a big goal of mine to get that first UFC win. I’ve always been the guy that will fight any fight. I’ll take any fight they give me and I’ve never said no. If there’s a few strikers that want to throw down, and put on a show for the fans, but whatever they want to give me. I’m not calling out top-10 guys right away. I want to get my feet wet a little bit and have some fun.”