by Monta Wiley
When you look at the fight career of newcomer Jake Hecht, his long quest to get to the UFC is an expedition marked by years of blood and sweat, clawing his way up the ladder to get where he is today. His introduction into the company at UFC 140 would be met with great reception and reward as he would secure a TKO victory over Rich Attonito in his debut fight. Confident, determined, and resourceful Hecht knows the road will be tough. Nevertheless he is ready to meet any and all challenges that come in his path including his upcoming fight against TJ Wallenberg at “UFC on FX 2”.
Fight Hub TV got the opportunity to speak with Jake Hecht as he reflects on his journey to get to the UFC and his future aspirations as he makes his ascent in the welterweight division.
FHTV: You’ve had quiet the journey since you started you pro career in 2006. In your mind what defines Jake Hecht as a fighter?
Jake Hecht: I would say my journey since I began wrestling in high school all the way up to the UFC defines me as a well-rounded, hardworking athlete. I have always been athletic, but that doesn’t mean all the aspects of my fight game have come easily for me. I’ve worked really hard over the last decade when I first started out in combat sports. I’ve never been one to take the easy road – I don’t just rely on being great at one discipline of MMA.I took the time to really round out my game and am always striving for a better performance, whether in a fight or just at practice or working out. I got to where I am because I put in the time and effort. I’m proud to say I’ve never taken anything ‘performance enhancing’ and that I got to this level all on sweat and dedication.
FHTV: Having fought in many different organizations from the Midwest to even overseas promotions, what has the experience been like fighting in different companies?
Jake Hecht: I’ve had a lot of great experiences with different shows I have been on. Everything has pros and cons. It’s great to be a name on a big show, but it’s also nice to be involved with more local people and organizations that are just starting out. As long as an organization is run well, is professional, and has support, the experience is great regardless of where or how big the show may be. Cage Warriors and the UFC have both given me great opportunities to travel, but sometimes it’s nice to be the ‘hometown hero’.
FHTV: What would you say has been the most difficult aspect for you about your career in this sport?
Jake Hecht: The most difficult thing in my career has been the mental game. It’s hard to stay motivated through injuries and other tough breaks. So many times I felt like I was almost there, just about to break into the UFC and it just wasn’t happening. I know I can train my body to push through and learn new skills but staying positive and motivated can be a big challenge.
FHTV: Switching gears after five years of blood, sweat, and tears you finally got that call that every fighter has been waiting for. Tell the viewers some of the feelings and thoughts of getting the invite to compete in the UFC?
Jake Hecht: I really couldn’t believe it when I finally got the call. Marc Fiore, my coach, had been telling me I was so close to the UFC for the past year or two so I had been playing the waiting game for a while. A few times, we thought I had gotten a fight, and it didn’t quite work out. So signing that first contract was a surreal experience. Literally a dream come true. The fight was decided on pretty short notice though so while I was extremely excited, I was also overwhelmed knowing I had to start training camp ASAP and start getting back down to welterweight size because I had been spending the year bulking up and fighting middleweight.
FHTV: Coming away victorious in your debut fight back in December of 2011 how important was it for you to make a good impression and come away with the victory?
Jake Hecht: That debut victory was extremely important to me. Pretty much more important than anything else, to be honest. I wanted the UFC organization and the fans to realize I was a good pick for the organization and that I was worth their while to watch. I’m really happy with how the fight went, not only because I won, but also that I won in a convincing manner. I feel like the fight highlighted what I can do and that I am a good addition to the UFC lineup.
FHTV: Since that time how would you say Jake Hecht has changed as a fighter in terms of your development physically and mentally?
Jake Hecht: I would say I’m still the fighter I was before, because I am always working on developing my game regardless of my previous fight.
FHTV: Now going into your upcoming fight against T.J Waldburger. How has your preparation been for this fight and how confident are you heading into the encounter?
Jake Hecht: I know TJ is great on the ground, so of course I have been working some ground game with my BJJ coach Kyle Watson, but I’m still practicing my stand up as well. The guys at Watson BJJ in St. Louis and at Fiore MMA in Springfield, IL are well rounded and great to work different situations with. Mentally I would say I’m a little more prepared for this fight, but at the same time I want to make sure I keep up my reputation in the UFC, so the pressure is still on. I’m confident heading into this fight. I know TJ is a good fighter, but I think overall my game is better, I’m more rounded, and I’ve prepared for every situation.
FHTV: With a possible win on the horizon, what do you hope this victory will do in terms of yours standings in the welterweight division?
Jake Hecht: With any win, I would hope my standings will go up in the division. I’m just at the sophomore level in the UFC, I don’t expect to jump up the ranks overnight, but I think after this win I’ll start climbing and hopefully getting some more big opportunities. I think this victory will help solidify my place as someone to watch in the division and will let everyone know I’m not just a flash in the pan; that I’m a legitimate fighter and not someone who just had a couple lucky or flashy fights.
FHTV: Finally any sneak peeks you would like to give the fans on what they should expect to see from Jake Hecht that night?
Jake Hecht: Expect to see a good fight. We’re both going out there to win and we both want it. You won’t see a lazy fight or one with lack of heart. It’s going to be a battle and I’m looking forward to coming out on top.
FHTV: Anybody you would like to thank?
Jake Hecht: Of course I want to thank my coach, Marc Fiore, for really getting me to where I am. All my coaches throughout the years have played a part in the fighter I am today so really a thanks goes out to all of them. All my friends and the guys at the Boxing Clinic in Cork have been a big support too. Thanks to my girlfriend, Natalie; she really helps me get my head in the game and I appreciate what she has done for me. I would also like to thank Brad Storr.