Trash talk is common in combat sports, but UFC lightweight Jared Gordon has never really had much use for it, especially after he spent some time behind bars.
Gordon, who has spoken openly about his past battles with drug addiction and a stint in jail, learned firsthand through those experiences that words really do matter. It was through those harsh lessons that he was able to put his life back together. But he never forgot the education he received during those harrowing years.
“I’m not trying to sound crazy but a lot of guys say certain things and they use certain words, which where I’m from you don’t fight in a legal, UFC bout when you’re using those words,” Gordon, who faced charges that came with a possible sentence of 25 years to life, explained an interview with MMA Fighting before UFC 282. “These words come with real consequences.
“Some of the things I hear people say, like, I would stab you for that, or I know someone that would stab you for saying those things.”
While pre-fight banter between opponents builds interest and promotes an event, Gordon knows there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Yet he hears those kinds of insults being lobbed constantly. When that happens, he quickly realizes the fighters involved have probably never been in a situation where a wrong move could get you killed.
“Certain things, I don’t want to fight you in a legal fight for saying certain things, like when you’re not looking, I want to stab you in your back,” Gordon said. “That’s where I’m from. I’ve heard people call each other motherless dogs and say suck my you-know-what, and that’s something that where I’m from, it’s something you get really hurt for, or maybe killed.
“In jail, if you call someone a b**** or tell them to suck your [d***], those are killing words. When I hear certain things, we’re not gangsters. We’re all professional athletes. We’re on the main stage, we’re in the UFC.”
Perhaps the best example is UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who is often been praised for his mental warfare. It’s a huge part of his arsenal, and he often dismantles opponents prior to a fight.
“I get it – crap talk, build up the fight, say what you’ve got to say, but certain things should be left unsaid,” Gordon stated. “That’s just how I grew up and where I’m from. You can tell Conor’s never really been in jail. You can tell. He might have did a couple of hours in Brooklyn when he threw the dolly at the [bus], but he never went to main jail or a real prison.
“You can just tell by the way he talks and by the way some other guys talk. It’s like I can tell you’ve never been certain places because if you were in certain places, you would hold yourself in a different way, carry yourself in a different way. Because you would be worried about someone trying to hurt you, someone trying to kill you.”
Gordon’s upcoming opponent, Paddy Pimblett, is often compared to McGregor, thanks to his magnetic personality and gift of gab. To his credit, Gordon said Pimblett has been “nothing but respectful so far,” and he doesn’t expect that will change in the days leading up to their fight.
But it’s impossible not to broach that subject given Pimblett’s quick tongue and tendency to engage in verbal warfare. If the British star crosses the line, Gordon promises he won’t back down. But he also won’t change his demeanor.
“If you say certain things, I’m going to have a response for you,” Gordon said. “I’m not just going to sit here and put my head down, but I’m not the tit for tat guy.
“I don’t mean to bring it to straight prison talk, but press conferences bring me back to certain times where I’m like you can’t say that, you shouldn’t say that either. It’s funny to me.”