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There's nothing I'm gonna face in the UFC cage that I haven't faced in the Boise State wrestling room or going up against guys like Johnny Thompson."
So says Scott Jorgensen, 29, a three-time Pac-10 conference wrestling champ for Boise State who has made a successful transition from the college mats to a professional career in MMA. The former Bronco -- now known by his nickname "Young Guns" -- is ranked fifth in the InterMatFight bantamweight rankings, and fights for the UFC.
Hitting the mat at age 8
Scott Jorgensen was introduced to wrestling at age 8. "Dad wrestled for Ricks College," Jorgensen disclosed. "I had a friend who wrestled. I thought it looked like fun. It kinda took over my life."
"As a kid, I participated in just about every sport -- baseball, karate, soccer -- everything but basketball."
In fact, one of Jorgensen's earliest sports was the sweet science: "I took boxing lessons as a kid."
"I loved wrestling. No one else to rely on. I really liked the idea of having to count on myself, and not having to depend on a team to get better or have success."
In high school in Alaska, Jorgensen was a two-time state finalist, winning a state title. "We moved to Eagle, Idaho, to help me get recruited by a college program," Jorgensen said.
The plan worked. After being recruited by the likes of the University of Nebraska and the U.S. Naval Academy, Jorgensen accepted a scholarship offer from Boise State. "I chose the Broncos because I really liked the program," said Jorgensen, citing the coaching staff, particularly head coach Gene Randall, as major factors for signing on with the Broncos.
Scott Jorgensen (top) was a three-time NCAA qualifier at Boise State (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)While at Boise State from 2001-2006, Jorgensen built a successful career at 133 pounds, winning three Pac-10 conference titles. However, in the interview for this InterMatFight.com profile, Jorgensen focused on his experiences at the NCAAs.
"I didn't wrestle at the NCAAs as a freshman," said Jorgensen. "In the three other years I qualified (for the NCAAs), each time I just missed out on being an All-American. Never quite pulled the trigger."
Jorgensen's NCAA title dreams were derailed by some top collegiate wrestlers. At the 2004 NCAAs, the Boise State matman was knocked off the title track by Foley Dowd of Michigan ... then, in the consolation bracket, lost to Oklahoma State's Johnny Thompson. The following year, Jorgensen fell to eventual 133 champ Travis Lee of Cornell University.
From college mats to MMA
When asked by InterMatFight.com what drove his move to MMA after completing his college wrestling career, Scott Jorgensen replied, "I was disappointed in not making All-American. I really needed a break from the sport."
In an earlier interview with the Arbiter, the student newspaper at Boise State, Jorgensen credited another former Pac-10 matman who made the transition from collegiate wrestling to success in his mixed martial arts career ... and urged Jorgensen to do the same.
"Urijah Faber talked me into fighting," said the former Bronco 133-pounder of Faber, who had wrestled at the University of California-Davis before launching his own successful career in MMA. "I was disappointed in how things ended (collegiately), and I still wanted to compete."
"(MMA) offers that excitement where anything can happen. A guy could be losing the fight, and with the small gloves we wear, get a knockout or a submission and come back and win."
Jorgensen got a win -- an armbar submission of Mike Morris at 1:31 of Round 1 -- at his first professional MMA bout at the Alaska Fighting Championships in June 2006. After a couple years of fighting in events sponsored by regional organizations, Jorgensen came into World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in early 2008. In 2010, WEC was merged into UFC, propelling Jorgensen into the top echelon of professional mixed martial arts competition.
In his most recent fight in late October, the 29-year-old native of Utah scored a unanimous decision over Jeff Curran at UFC 137 in Las Vegas. (In its coverage of the Jorgensen-Curran match, one MMA website's headline read, "Scott Jorgensen Uses Wrestling to Control Jeff Curran.")
After five-and-a-half years of professional mixed martial arts competition, Jorgensen is now 13-4. He has been submitted only once; the rest of his losses were by decision. Right now, Jorgensen ranks among the handful of top bantamweights (135-pound weight class) in the UFC; he is currently ranked No. 4 by MMAWeekly.com, No. 5 by Sherdog.com
Prepped for anything in the cage, thanks to wrestling
Was the transition from amateur wrestling to MMA competition daunting for Jorgensen? "At first I had a fear of getting hit," replied the former Boise State matman. "But doing it I overcame that fear, and have really sunk my teeth into MMA."
"I was born to do this," continued Jorgensen. "I've been competing since I was 8. All the workouts, wins, and losses. Wrestling is the best background for MMA."
"There's nothing I'm gonna face in the UFC cage that I haven't faced in the Boise State wrestling room or going up against guys like Johnny Thompson."
"If you make it through a year of a college wrestling room, you can do well in MMA," according to Jorgensen. "By any measuring stick, with my experience at Boise State, I'm prepared for whatever can happen in the cage."
"Joe Warren is one of my best friends," Jorgensen continued, referring to yet another mixed martial arts competitor who has had success as a wrestler. "He always reminds me, 'Remember where you came from -- wrestling.'"
"When you're in a predicament, you dig down for what you've overcome before."
As Jorgensen readily admitted in the InterMatFight.com interview, "It took me till I was 16 or 17 that I really decided to be more serious about my wrestling. To push myself harder, go longer. You learn who you are when you are truly tired."
"When you wrestle, you learn the importance of a strong work ethic," Jorgensen continued. "With that, you won't fail."
"I put all my current success on my wrestling."
Ask Scott Jorgensen to talk about his style in MMA competition, and he continues in the vein of how his years of wrestling experience have all led to his current career: "I'm not the most technical fighter, but you'll never break me."
"My style in the cage is a hard-nosed approach, in-your-face, 'I'm dictating this fight,' 'I'll break you mentally before I break you physically' style," according to Jorgensen.
"My fights are a war of attrition -- that the other guy's gonna give long before I would think of it."
"I'm a hard-headed wrestler who knows what I can overcome."
"I have a good chin," Jorgensen continued. "I've never been knocked out in a fight or in MMA practice. But I have been knocked out twice in wrestling."
"Four different times in wrestling, I had to get stitches. That's happened just once in MMA."
How does Scott Jorgensen get ready for a UFC fight?
"My training routine is pretty simple. I train six days a week. I spar twice a week. Every day has some wrestling and grappling, do strength and conditioning work, too, and striking for 30 minutes nonstop."
"About four weeks before the fight, I do rounds work," Jorgensen continued. "I model my training on how Boise State did it. Again, it all ties back to my wrestling roots. Hard work pays off."
Key to Jorgensen's training is having his own facility, Combat Fitness, an 8,000 square foot facility in Boise.
"Four-and-a-half-years ago, I opened a gym with my business partner, Jesse Brock," said the former Bronco wrestler. "When I started fighting, I needed a gym. I didn't feel there was anyone doing it right in this area, providing a facility for guys who are serious about training, right here in Boise."
"We've hired great trainers in various disciplines," continued Jorgensen who also teaches classes at Combat Fitness. "We have a full range of activities. In fact, we have the only place in Idaho where someone can learn all the disciplines."
One of the features Combat Fitness offers is a wrestling club, populated mostly with high school athletes.
Right now, Combat Fitness has about 150 members, and, according to Jorgensen, "about 90% are not competitive athletes, but individuals doing it for fitness."
"We want to build one of the best facilities in the country."
Beyond building on the success of Combat Fitness, Scott Jorgensen has one goal: to win the UFC title. "I missed out on the bantamweight title last December," said Jorgensen, referring to his loss by unanimous decision to Dominick Cruz, the 135-pound champ, at WEC 53 on Dec. 17, 2010.
Jorgensen's wrestling background, relentless training and hard-nosed attitude will serve him well in that title quest ... along with another key ingredient: "I love what I do. I remind myself to have fun. This is what I want to do."
"When I step into the cage for a fight, I'm at my most relaxed," said Jorgensen. "I'm ready to put all the work I've done, into having some fun."
In addition to loving MMA competition, Scott Jorgensen loves to communicate with fans. Fans can follow Scott Jorgensen on Twitter at @Scottjorgensen, or like his Facebook page, ScottJorgensen135.