By Erik Uebelacker
Middleweight Fergus Jenkins of New Zealand stamped his ticket to the semifinals after a slick submission win over Ireland’s Daniel O’Sullivan.
Jenkins took the fight to the ground early and locked up a rear-naked choke for a swift first round finish.
“Just trying to do my best Khamzat Chimaev impression!” Jenkins joked.
His run in the 2021 IMMAF World Championships tournament has been an impressive one, finishing two of his three wins by submission.
“It was good to get this one done quick because of the tournament format,” he said.
“It pays to get it over nice and quick and not exhaust yourself and deplete yourself for the next fight, so the win went to plan.”
Many fighters in the middleweight division received byes for the first round of the competition, but Jenkins was not so lucky. His scheduled semi-final opponent, Paul Buckley, competed just twice compared to to Jenkins’ three outings. But Jenkins doesn’t see this as a disadvantage.
“I was happy (not to have a bye),” he said.
“I want to get my experience racked up.”
As a first-time IMMAF competitor, gaining experience was a prime selling point for Jenkins to participate in this year’s Championships.
“The best thing about it is that you get more fights in less time, rather than waiting months for your next one, which is what I’ve been suffering with back in New Zealand,” he said.
Jenkins has competed in domestic shows in his home country, but never in a tournament style.
“It’s very different because it’s a different strategy,” he said.
“You conserve your energy, compared to if you’re just fighting months apart and you just go all out. So there’s more strategy, more tactics.”
Despite fighting three times, Jenkins said that he feels healthy and strong heading into this semifinal bout. However, he says his biggest strength in this competition isn’t his body; it’s his mind.
“I think the biggest thing is the mentality,” Jenkins said.
“I do a lot of work on my mentality now. And I think, especially in a tournament like this, but in MMA in general, the mental is what separates the good from the great. That’s the attribute that I think is going to take me all the way.”
Now just two wins away from a gold medal, Jenkins says he is determined to do his country and his gym, Canterbury Fight Centre, proud.
“I really love it there, it’s like a family community,” he said.
“My coach Karl Webber, he’s always believed in me since day one, so I’m just out here trying to prove him right.”