Damon Jackson embracing second UFC tenure, not taking anything for granted heading into UFC Vegas 16

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Looking back on his third-round submission victory over Mirsad Bektic at UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley in September, featherweight Damon Jackson isn’t overly pleased with his performance. He is happy to have gotten a win in his UFC return.

According to Jackson, the short notice of the fight may have played a part in how he was able to perform, but he was able to overcome that, as well as some surprises from Bektic, to pick up his second straight win.

“It was definitely a three-day-notice performance,” Jackson told MMAWeekly.com. “I kind of expected the fight to go on the ground, but I was kind of caught off guard that (Bektic) shot in so quickly and went for the takedown, because how was he going to stand up and get me tired at first, and he shot in.

“I have more confidence in my conditioning on the ground, so when he took me down I was totally comfortable. I never felt threatened or anything. It was just really frustrating because I didn’t get to grapple before that, so I wasn’t on point, but a win’s a win.”

Having previously been released from the UFC in 2016 following three fights with the promotion, to get a chance to return four years later is something that Jackson is grateful for.

“It’s something not a lot of people get to do: getting there so quickly, getting released, then working my way back up,” said Jackson. “It’s not easy to do for sure. There’s a lot of guys who try but it doesn’t work out for them.

“As crazy as this year is it just worked out in my favor this year because they really needed somebody to step up and I was ready to go. It was a huge opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to come in and get that win.”

This Saturday in Las Vegas, Jackson (18-3-1) will look to keep his winning streak going when he faces Ilia Topuria (9-0) in a preliminary featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori.

“If you look at his record, you might think he might not have that much talent or might not be ready for this big of a fight, but guys are coming in with good stand-up, good Jiu-Jitsu. They know how to do their strength and conditioning; know how to do their weight cut. They’re getting taught this by the guys they work with, so this next generation of guys are killers,” Jackson said of Topuria.

“I’ll definitely be looking out for his wrestling, but I won’t lay low on his stand-up either. I think in the later rounds we’ll see how it plays out with my experience. I’m ready to go. This is something I’ve been working for so long. It feels nice to be ready, be healthy, and able to fight.”

Happy to be back in the UFC, Jackson is going to take things much slower than he did in his first run with the promotion and focus on one fight at a time instead of making grand plans for 2021.

“I think if you start getting ahead of yourself, you’ll get in trouble,” said Jackson. “You might get away with that for one or two fights, but for the most part you need to focus on the fight in front of you.

“Anyone at any time can win in MMA; it can be over at any time. I definitely don’t get ahead of myself and look ahead to next year. As soon as this fight’s over, I’ll start looking for another fight (but not until then).”

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