Despite 35 pro fights, UFC's 23-year-old Jordan Mein not stressed about burnout


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jordan-mein-5.jpgAcupuncture and ice are the only post-fight recuperative measures Canadian Jordan Mein is taking after his fight this past Saturday at UFC 158.

“I’m already back to training, just doing nothing too crazy,” he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “You’ve got to rest your body, but I’m just doing some repping and more ground stuff and a little bit of weights. I’m healthy, so I want to fight right away.”

You’d think Mein (27-8 MMA, 1-0 UFC) would need an X-ray or an MRI after his opponent, Dan Miller (14-7 MMA, 6-6 UFC), extended an armbar in the first round of their March 16 preliminary-card fight. He was in prime position to tap, or suffer damage his elbow.

Mein, though, started yoga during his training camp for the fight, so he felt a little more flexible than usual when Miller torqued his limb.

“It will make me stronger, as well,” he said.

But there was also something much more important at play when he dodged the submission attempt and rallied to win a first-round TKO win, which was his first inside the octagon. Mein has more than 10 years of experience, which, at 23 years old, gives him the kind of combat wherewithal that people who start MMA late in life simply don’t have.

For fans watching his career blossom from Strikeforce prospect to UFC up-and-comer, the question now is how far he can go in the UFC’s welterweight division. If a fighter peaks at 30 years old, he should be some kind of monster in seven years.

Mein, as earlier reported, has a whiteboard filled with 170-pound fighters in the UFC. After this past Saturday, he put a smiley face next to Miller’s name.

“Everybody on the board I want to get a shot (at),” he said. “I know there’s so many guys, it’s not possible. But I’ve got to keep my eye on everybody and watch video on everybody so you know what’s up and coming.”

So, Mein shows no signs of slowing down. But can maintain this momentum after putting so many miles on his body early in life, and is he due for burnout after doing the same thing for so long? Is his career destined to end before his third decade of life?

“It definitely could mean that,” he said. “I see myself fighting late in my 30s, but obviously, I can’t tell. So that is a possibility.”

But in the present, he can’t see losing his fire.

“This is just what I’ve wanted to do, and this is what makes me feel the best,” Mein said. “But I’ve never thought about slowing down, and it’s worked out.”

Mein admits he enjoyed hanging out with friends far more than going to school while growing up in Lethbridge, Alberta. But what excited him more than anything else was martial arts, which his father, Lee, practiced and put to use as an MMA fighter.

The singular focus of that pursuit rubbed off on Mein. While Jordan was still a teenager, he lost a pro fight and decided that he would never again try to balance school, work and training.

“There was nothing that really caught my eye more than martial arts, and I’ve been such a big fan of all styles of martial arts and entertainment,” he said. “It feels the most right over everything.”

Perhaps more importantly, Jordan didn’t feel pressured to excel by his family.

“I never felt it was something that I had to do,” he said. “I think that’s probably a big reason that I’m still loving it so much. He was always a coach and a father but never pressured me into anything.”

Still, the pressure that comes from fighting on the world’s biggest stage is something new to Mein. And it’s bound to get more intense as he makes his way up the welterweight ladder. That can rob a fighter of his passion as love for the craft becomes intertwined with business concerns.

Mein combats burnout by taking time off after fights. But it isn’t long before he feels the urge to get back in the gym.

“I love training, and it’s a big addiction for me, so I keep at it,” he said.

For others considering his path, Mein doesn’t advocate a measured approach. Those who love the sport as much as he does should pursue it with the same intensity.

The benefits are evident.

“I would say compete as much as you can,” he said. “For me, it’s who I am and I’m really thankful for that. I’ve gotten to travel around the world because of it. I would say compete lots, and get out of your comfort zone. That’s what I did.”

For complete coverage of UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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