Bubba Jenkins wears his heart on his sleeve, especially when it comes to his relationship with God.
A devout Christian, Jenkins has made it a point to emphasize his faith following his recent wins, which includes two regular season victories for the PFL that have him on the doorstep of a title fight and a $1 million prize. Jenkins fights Chris Wade on Friday in Hollywood, Fla., with the winner moving on to the PFL’s featherweight championship finals.
Jenkins speaks in tongues before conducting his post-fight interviews and this past June he caught the attention of comedian Kev On Stage, who praised Jenkins for his ability to speak in “good, good clean tongue” as well as his fighting ability. Kev On Stage’s riff on Jenkins’ speech went viral and was recently re-posted on Instagram by Jenkins himself.
MMA Fighting asked Jenkins for his thoughts on the clip and he was grateful that it helped to bring him even greater exposure.
“I thought that was awesome,” Jenkins said. “One, that helped me go viral, so shout-outs to him to actually put that clip out there and make your boy go out there as far as the public world goes. But it did exactly what I was looking to do as far as hoping up the heavens. So many people started talking about it, even you asking me now, ‘What was that?’ That’s exactly what I’m here for.
“I’m here to not only let my fighting style be what creates my audience, but when my fighting style was done speaking, I actually have something to say. When they’re done being entertained by the way that I move and the way that I clash and the way that I combat, then they actually have to hear me say something and that’s where I come with not only weightless world or weightless talk, but there’s a substance in the things that I’m saying. There’s a belief in who I speak to.”
Jenkins’ in-cage accomplishments have been doing plenty of talking for him in the past few years as he’s put himself on a five-fight win streak, the best run of his career since going pro in 2011. A decorated amateur wrestler who won an NCAA championship wrestling for Arizona State, Jenkins was labeled a blue-chip prospect the moment he chose to compete in MMA and was signed to Bellator after a 3-0 start.
Major league success did not come right away for Jenkins as he was upset by LaRue Burley in his second appearance for Bellator and never ascended to the top of a division even after dropping down to 145 pounds. His only other losses came in a pair of fights with Georgi Karakhanyan, with the second signaling the end of his time with the promotion.
Fast forward to his Brave CF debut in 2018 where he defeated Elias Boudegzdame to capture a featherweight belt, Jenkins’ first MMA title. It was a turning point for him after hearing questions about his ability to win the big one for so long.
“It was major and the momentum that I took from it helped me go into every training and every practice feeling that I’m a world champion,” Jenkins said. “I’m one of the best in the world. There’s not many that can beat me. I don’t know that there’s five men on this Earth that can beat me in a fight at 145 pounds. So that momentum, that mindset, and that motivation is all it needed to be.”
And if he wins a second title, this one in a major North American organization?
“I guess it kind of validates me a little bit of the American level,” Jenkins said of possibly winning the 2021 PFL championship. “I’m validated overseas. In Russia, they know I can fight. In Bahrain, they know I can fight. In the UAE, they know I can fight. And of course in America they know I can fight because I’m a national champ wrestler, but it just validates a little bit of my credentials, a little bit of my resume, a little bit of who I am from the past of people being like, ‘Bubba’s this wrestler who’s never going to evolve.’
“Whatever they were saying about who I was when I first got in the game as I’m learning how to be the No. 1 prospect coming out of the game, being that it was at a younger time in MMA, in mixed martial arts where the development of all your skills wasn’t there. You just kind of had to go with the punches and if you had a big name, you were in big organizations with big fights without really understanding what fighting was. That was a little bit of what I did. I regret nothing of my journey and how I’ve come to this path and it validates me.”
Two more wins will not only bring Jenkins another championship and elevate his platform, there’s also that million-dollar check that all of the fighters are vying for. For Jenkins, the massive monetary gain potentially waiting him at the end of this PFL season goes hand-in-hand with his goals outside of the cage.
Jenkins plans to put money back into communities and provide an example for young people who are struggling to get out of difficult living situations.
“There’s boys in Africa that have not seen half of the things that we’ve seen by that time we’re eight years old,” Jenkins said. “And if they can get the understanding that I’m trying to give when I win this money, the understanding that I’m trying to reach back and teach one to reach one, they can literally fight themselves into a better position.
“Fight themselves out of the streets of Ghana, of Nigeria, of Congo, wherever they are. Chicago, Detroit, Cali, Miami. The death rate for African Americans in this country or around the world is asinine and I can’t sit there and say that I’m a part of my community, that I’m a bad man, that I’m this believer in Christ and I don’t go back and reach out for my friends. … I’m one that’s trying to be a blessing so that I can bless.”