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Justin Jaynes fires back at critics who say betting on own fight was publicity stunt

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Justin Jaynes has been hearing it from all sides since the news broke last week that he would be betting his entire UFC Vegas 30 show purse on himself. He doesn’t mind the criticism, but he draws the line at people suggesting his gamble was just an attempt to build publicity for his fight.

On Saturday, Jaynes lost a split decision to Charles Rosa, a result that only amplified what was already one of the standout stories heading into fight night. Jaynes has already said he has no regrets about the decision and in an interview on MMA Fighting’s What the Heck show, he explained that he hoped his bold decision would inspire others even though he’s aware that there’s been plenty of mockery as well.

The featherweight veteran can only laugh at some of the reactions, including one person who accused him of running a scam by instilling a false sense of confidence in bettors. Jaynes estimates he’s received well over a thousand messages regarding his decision and its outcome, with many offering praise and support, though he noted about “30 percent of them are bad.”

Overall, Jaynes is still blown away that his bet became such a big story.

“That’s the crazy part because people keep saying, ‘This is a publicity stunt,’” Jaynes said. “Listen, I don’t care if you believe me, I don’t care if you don’t believe me, my family knows that I f*cking lost.

“Don’t you think if this was a publicity stunt I would have been raving about this weeks prior? There was no mention of it. I only mentioned it to the one podcast, Overtime Heroics, then ESPN picked it up and it went big. If this was a publicity stunt, I would have been going crazy about it the whole time. I only mentioned it a couple of times and I barely touched on it when it did. I had no idea it was gonna get this kind of hype.”

According to Jaynes, it wasn’t even him who came up with the idea to bet on himself. It was actually a teammate who had brought it up in the past, though they never followed through with it, so Jaynes later mentioned the idea to his coaches. He says the bet ended up being around $20,000 after calculating for fight-related expenses.

Jaynes is an avid bettor, claiming that he puts wagers on almost every UFC fight even if he doesn’t know the competitors. In other words, this isn’t the first time his wallet has ended up a little lighter by the end of a fight night.

“It’s just another day in the office,” Jaynes said. “I was prepared, as I said, for all outcomes. Win or lose, whether I won the bet or lost the bet, I was prepared for all outcomes. Obviously, it doesn’t feel good. I gamble a lot… To come up short in a split decision really sucks, but it is what it is. I’m a grown man and I’ll pay my debts and on to the next. I still believe in myself and I would have no problem doing it again.”

Jaynes also took umbrage with one of the judge’s scorecards Saturday, a 30-27 score in Rosa’s favor that seemingly ignored Jaynes’ charge in the final round (the other scores were 29-28 Rosa and 29-28 Jaynes). However, he does not regret a strategic choice he made to take Rosa down after hurting him on the feet.

Even though he couldn’t finish Rosa, Jaynes feels there’s an argument to be made that the fight could have been scored in his favor.

“It’s just a slippery slope, especially scoring for MMA, because I do feel Charles had more volume but he wasn’t landing any shots,” Jaynes said. “I’m not bruised up, I wasn’t—It’s frustrating, because when I landed my shots, I was cracking. When he was landing his shots, they were like mosquito bites. So I thought I won the first round, he took me down with, like, 40 seconds in the first round. I reversed out of it relatively quick, it kind of negates the takedown I feel. And again, landing the stronger strikes, I thought I won the first round. Going into the second, we ended up in kind of this awkward position where he was hammerfisting me but, again, not damaging shots. I lost the second round for sure just because of that awkward position we were getting in.

“I come out slugging in the third. I knew he was hurt and I’m getting a lot of criticism for, ‘Oh, why did you take him down?’ After I’m finishing with that flurry, although I am cracking, my punches are slowing down, we’ve been fighting for 15 minutes, the lactic acid is filling up in my arms, I can feel my punches slowing down. I start hitting him in the forearms and then we were just so close, so I took him down knowing that or assuming after watching Bryce Mitchell that he’d give me a side choke.”

Jaynes felt that the choke was close and that taking the bout to the ground was his best path to finding a finish that his coaches told him he needed to get between rounds. The process made sense to him even if it didn’t yield the result he was aiming for.

“I can’t say I regret it,” Jaynes said. “On the feet, again, fatigue was setting in, my punches were slowing down. I’m not sure if I could have finished it. Maybe I could’ve, maybe I couldn’t’ve, it’s just one of those things. The people love you if you win, they hate you if they lose. If I would have finished the side choke after I took him down, I would be the smartest fighter and my fight IQ would be through the roof. Obviously, since the submission didn’t go through I’m the dumbest fighter in the UFC. I can’t say I regret what I did because that was my 72nd or 73rd MMA fight [including amateur bouts], so I feel like you have a pretty fight IQ, it just happened to be in the circumstance of after I threw that right hand, my shoulder was so close to him, it was just almost reaction just to grab onto him. He went down so easy because he was rocked and I thought I could find the submission and get the dramatic win.

“I don’t have regrets on the bet that I placed. I don’t have regrets on the decisions I’ve made. Hopefully, me believing in myself inspired someone else to believe in their self and at the end of the day that’s what I’m gonna chop it up to. Money comes and goes, but belief in yourself needs to be permanent.”

Jaynes’ UFC future is uncertain for now. He viewed his fight with Rosa as his true UFC debut after his previous three bouts were all booked on short notice, so he’s hoping that the matchmakers see it the same way and give him another chance in the octagon. Otherwise, he’s ready to move on.

And you better believe he’s ready to push all his chips to the center of the table again.

“Listen, I don’t know where my career’s gonna be next month,” Jaynes said. “I don’t collect a paycheck this month. These people don’t even understand how much I’ve risked to do what I do or to get where I’m at. My whole life has been an all-in situation. I come from a little town called Richmond, Michigan. I graduated with a hundred people. When I graduated college I was facing a decision, do I want to become an MMA fighter? If I want to become an MMA fighter I have to go all in. There’s no stops. I’m not gonna work a 9-to-5 and try and train in the evening, try and compete with the best fighters in the world.

“I sold my soul to the devil. I moved from Michigan, I moved away from my family, I moved away from my son for the last 10 years. I missed 10 years of him growing up so I could pursue this dream to get to the UFC, and all these people want to [criticize] me, F all those guys, man. I’m an all-in kind of guy, when I say I’m gonna do something I don’t half-ass it, I go all in. This kind of was the last statement, this was my thing from the beginning of my career, whether it was financial whether it was—Again, I moved from Richmond, Michigan, all the way to Las Vegas, Nevada, to train to get to the UFC and I got there and I wanted to go one more time all in and I just fell short this time.”