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Jamelle Jones turned down five fights before taking PFL call, now two wins away from championship

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Jamelle Jones
Cooper Neill, PFL

There’s plenty to be said about Jamelle Jones’ surprising run to the PFL playoffs, but whatever you do, don’t call it lucky.

With just one regular season win under his belt—a spectacular first-round finish of recent UFC competitor Klidson Abreu—Jones earned enough points to make it to the PFL semifinals where he meets No. 1 seed Bruno Cappelozza on Thursday at PFL 8 for a spot in the heavyweight championship finals.

Considering Jones (12-6) wasn’t even signed to the PFL until a couple of months ago, it’s understandable that he may not be viewed as one of the favorites to take home the league’s million-dollar prize.

When you hear how he got this far, you might think twice about counting him out.

“March, I win the CFFC (Cage Fury Fighting Championships) title,” Jones told MMA Fighting. “Everyone calls. The UFC offered me a fight, short-notice, a week after I fought. So I fought on a Friday or a Saturday and then that next Saturday they wanted me to fight again. Literally, my hands were sore, my coach was in Dubai, it was against a tough opponent. My wife has a full-time job, she already just took a week off. She couldn’t get more time off.

“The UFC was basically setting me up to lose so I had to turn down that opportunity because I’ve already took so many losses that I shouldn’t have, I have to do things right now. So even though I was ready to take a fight on short notice, that wasn’t the time for me to sign to the UFC.”

Jones landed on the UFC’s radar after a powerful knockout of Cody Goodale at CFFC 93. Barely two minutes into the fight, Jones connected with a left hand and overwhelmed Goodale with the heavy ground punches that are quickly becoming one of his trademarks. He’d had brushes with the big leagues before including one-and-done appearances on Dana White’s Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter, but this time it looked like his ship was finally coming in.

The UFC called. So did Bellator. The PFL reached out to Jones too, but this isn’t where their stories intersect (at the time, the league was still requiring a 17-day quarantine before events and that was far too long for Jones, a stay-at-home dad). No, Jones’ plan was to actually return to CFFC and defend his title against former PFL fighter Rakim Cleveland. That wasn’t to be either.

Cleveland fell ill 15 minutes before a scheduled fight with Jones in May and then Jones was told by CFFC that the plans to book him for an August event fell through. Instead, Jones returned the PFL’s call and agreed to fight Abreu in June on less than a week’s notice.

He needed less than two minutes to win his debut.

That victory gave Jones three straight knockouts and he says he’s done playing nice in the cage after experiencing mixed results to start off his career.

“My name is Jamelle ‘The Beast’ Jones and I didn’t give myself that name,” Jones said. “People watch me perform and they’re like, ‘He’s a beast.’ So I guess I became The Beast Jones. And people really don’t understand it until they get in there.”

“A lot of the backlash on social media, I get a couple of trolls telling me I’m unprofessional the way I handle things,” Jones continued. “But what people have to realize is I’ve been hurt in the cage. Seriously. I broke my orbital, I broke my nose in three places, and now every time I sign a contract—in the most professional, nicest way—I’m coming to kill. It’s kill or be killed. I’ve been killed, I’m not afraid to be killed, but before you do that I’m gonna get mine off. I’m gonna get my offence off, I’m gonna hit you, and we’re gonna fight. We’re gonna fight, it’s a fight. … When you see me fight, I put my heart and soul into every punch. I’m not out there to make friends, I’m not out there to spar. I’m not out there for competition. I’m out there to knock motherf*ckers out and get paid as quick as possible.”

Jones’ left hand has been his weapon of choice lately, but he credits his time with the Sikjitsu team (where he’s trained since 2013) and head coach Rick Little with building him into a complete fighter.

Jones is a two-time NCJAA wrestling champion and he’s looking forward to showing more aspects of his game as he marches towards a league title.

“The funny thing is that’s not all I got,” Jones said of his dangerous left hand. “I got a right hand too, I just haven’t had to use it. I have phenomenal grappling and people are finally starting to see it. When I’m fighting this guy and you see Randy Couture, ‘Oh, Jamelle should stand up. Jamelle should stand up,’ and I get right down there with a competitive black belt and I stop everything he has and I bring it to his house. What people don’t really realize is that’s just the least, that’s just the natural part of it, that’s the easy part of it.

“I haven’t even got into what I’ve been doing with combos and PFL we’re not allowed to throw elbows, so I have a lot more in my arsenal that I’m waiting to show and growing as a mixed martial artist I really feel as though this is just the beginning.”