V3 Fights: The Jesse James You Don’t Know is the One to Watch
Jesse “The Outlaw” James was a bank and train robber in the 1800s and his legend has continued to grow throughout history. Another Jesse James is a reality TV star, ranging from Monster Garage and Celebrity Apprentice, he also gained fame for marrying Sandra Bullock. However, this Jesse James accepts that he may not be the first to have the name, but he is willing to embrace it and take you on the ride he is just beginning.
“Growing up basically I always heard every time I would tell someone my name: oh you’re familiar with the outlaw Jesse James? So it kinda worked out hand in hand once I started fighting. I just kinda ran with it.”
Run with it James has. James was considered one of the top amateur fighters in California before focusing his training in New Mexico at the famed Jackson Wink gym. It all started in Clovis, California where James started wrestling at the age of eight. Clovis is renowned for it’s wrestling community on the national stage and that is where James found his base. He wrestled at Clovis East until his junior year of high school where he ran into some school related issues.
“My junior year in high school I kinda made a few mistakes, didn’t do too great in school, I was ditching quite a bit of school,” says James. “I actually got pulled in the middle of my wrestling season junior year right before league. I was doing really that year, in my season, so I actually had to go to this high school called Gateway, the alternative education high school in my area. So I didn’t actually get to wrestle the rest of my season my junior year or my senior year. I kinda had to find something else to do with my time and that’s when I started dabbling in mixed martial arts.”
The Outlaw knew when he first started training in high school that he wanted to be a professional MMA fighter, but it wasn’t until he started working with UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jason Von Flue that he had the opportunity to fight. He took that opportunity and ran with it, impressing as an amateur, going 8-1, including winning the CAMO State Championship in 2013.
As many fighters do, he struggled to afford the gym dues. It’s safe to say he’s thankful he met Halo BJJ coach Angel Lopez.
“I was struggling to check out all these local gyms– super expensive gym dues, paying like a hundred dollars a month to go to each gym. One of my current trainers now at my home gym in Fresno (I still train there over at Halo BJJ) ended up hooking me up with a sponsorship there and letting me train for free. So essentially if I didn’t have him over there, I’m not even sure if I would still be in it. So he was a huge part of me sticking with it.”
After becoming one of the top amateur prospects in California, James decided he needed a higher level of training. After reaching out to several of the major gyms in the country, he decided to drive out to New Mexico and try and join the famed Jackson Winklejohn team. They didn’t know anyone, but walked in the door and paid the mat fees. The altitude in New Mexico challenged his cardio from the start, and still does today. Even after being star-struck, James is part of one of the most well-known MMA teams in the world.
“There’s so many famous athletes out here that you’re used to watching on TV. So initially I was a little star struck getting to see them and practice with them daily. But now, I come as part of the team and everyone’s seems normal to me now.”
Over a year ago around the time James went to Jackson Winklejohn. He went all in and gave up working full time, a scary proposition for many, including for himself.
“Trying to keep my head above water is tough, but what I’m getting out of it is worth it most definitely.”
‘The Outlaw’ is definitely taking advantage of the opportunity, training with the likes of UFC fighter Devin Clark and Dana White Contender Series winner Bevon Lewis.
James’ next fight takes place on April 28 for V3Fights in Tunica, MS against James Horne. Because of his dominance and size, he is 6’3, and fights as a middleweight, James has had trouble finding opponents. Fighters in, and around, his home state of California have declined to fight him. As a result, James has had to venture to wherever he can find a fight.
James won his pro debut by submission in round one against a fighter with twenty pro fights. His next opponent, Horne, had three more fights than him with a record of 3-1.
The Jackson Winklejohn product doesn’t think it matters who is standing in front of him, he’s just looking to win quickly.
“My confidence is definitely there. I’m not worried about anyone who’s going to be standing in front of me. So, no matter what they have to offer, I feel like I’m going to be better and hopefully go out there and dominate with another first round win.”
What is also very cool about this fight is that James is doing charity work alongside his fight. He is donating the proceeds of his walkout shirts to the Marjaree Mason Center. The Marjaree Mason Center is a dedicated provider of domestic violence shelter and support services, including education for victims and youth. He’s doing this because domestic violence has been a part of his childhood and part of the lives of people he loves.
“My younger childhood days, I’ve had experiences with domestic violence and whatnot. I was actually raised by my grandparents because of it. Just due to my background with domestic violence as a kid, it’s something (giving back) that means a lot to me.”
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With positive opportunities ahead of him, James is confident he can achieve his goal of becoming one of the top mixed martial artists in today’s game.
“In five years, [I’ll] definitely be at the top of a big promotion, preferably the UFC– that’s been a goal of mine. I’m giving myself about two years, [which] is my goal to make it into the UFC. I know it’s kind of a stretch, but if I keep working hard, I’m hoping I’ll get there. I have the connections, the training partners and everything I need to get there. It’s really up to me to just keep the ball rolling.”
You can watch James fight for V3Fights on April 28th on FloCombat.