Reinhardt’s last and only UFC appearance took place in Nov. 2007 when he suffered a first round rear-naked choke submission loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC 78.
To this day, it remains Reinhardt’s only MMA loss. Ever.
And for a man who has been fighting now for well over a decade, that is not too shabby. Especially considering just how good Lauzon can be when he is “on”.
Following that loss, Reinhardt went out and submitted his next two opponents, both in the first round, and improved his record to 20-1.
Oh yeah, and just for the record, all of Reinhardt’s wins are finishes. He has never been to a decision.
Reinhardt was originally slated to take on “The Mongolian Wolf” (12-1) in Zhang’s U.S. debut at WEC 51 in Sept. 2010. However, due to a failed eye exam near the end of his training camp, Reinhardt had to pull out.
Now, five months and one eye surgery later, the bout between Reinhardt and “The Mongolian Wolf” is back on, except now it is in the UFC.
ProMMAnow.com‘s (www.prommanow.com) Jack Bratcher spoke with Reinhardt this past week to get all the details about the surgery, his thoughts on Zhang, returning to the UFC, joining up with Wand Fight Team and much more.
PRO MMA NOW: Hi Jason, thanks for speaking with us at ProMMAnow.com. How are you feeling now as we get closer to your fight and how does it feel knowing you are about to make your UFC return?
JASON REINHARDT: I feel the best I’ve ever felt my entire professional career. My mind is the strongest it’s ever been and my conditioning is at a level unlike never before thanks to the Wand Fight Team. The coaches here are incredible and they push me harder than the fight will ever be. I’ve been training for five rounds, although its only three. It feels like a relief finally making it back to the UFC. I knew with my professional record and finishes it was just a matter of time before I was offered another contract in the UFC. I’ve always been an exciting fighter, and I come to fight in fighting shape, every single time. I take this business very seriously. So, to answer your question, I am very grateful.
PRO MMA NOW: Have you ever been to Australia and what do you think about all the growth that has taken place in the sport over the past few years?
JASON REINHARDT: I’ve never been to Australia, but I’ve fought and competed in other parts of the world. Australia is somewhere I’ve always hoped my career would take me. I hear the fans are great and they really get into our sport. I hear they are rowdy, which is perfectly fine with me. I’m sure after this fight I will have a ton of new Australian fans. I have a feeling they are gonna like my aggressive fighting style. I love all MMA fans. Fans are what keep me driven. To be completely honest though, this fight could take place in a back alley in the mean streets of my hometown of Decatur, Illinois. I don’t condone street fighting, but my mentality in this fight, is nothing like I’ve ever felt. It doesn’t matter to me where the fight is. What matters is, I’m prepared to go to war and fight my ass off. This is what people pay to see. I am in the entertainment business, and it’s my job to come in the best shape always, and take this very serious. You will see. I am very happy about the growth of the sport, which I always knew would happen. That’s why I never gave up on the sport I love and hold close to my heart. This is my life. Just ask my wife of 16 years (laughs).
PRO MMA NOW: Well, I’m sure a lot of fans would like to know what you have been up to the past couple of years.
JASON REINHARDT: After I lost my first and only fight at UFC 78, when I fought way way out of my weight class, I was told by Dana White himself to go win two more fights in smaller organizations, and the UFC would have me back. Well, I won three and here I am. I have the best management team in the business, and I always knew with my record and my finishes I couldn’t be denied a second chance in the UFC. It’s all about patience. You have to know when to take smart fights. I will fight anyone, as long as it makes sense, and gets me closer to my goals. I could have fought in many other smaller shows these last few years, but why? I have a family to feed. I refuse to sell my soul, and fight for [expletive] money. Especially with my record. I plan on being employed by the UFC for three more years at least. I know what I am about to say is probably not politically correct, but who cares… What you see is what you get with me… I am truly willing to die in the cage. This is my mentality. I am a fighter, in and out of the cage. Often times the hardest fight is out of the cage, not in!! I never give up in life, and i think people should have more of this mentality. Life’s a mother [expletive]. Excuse my language. But seriously. Think about it. Many people give up too easy. It’s all about staying positive and setting goals. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen to me these past years, but I refuse to quit. I will be the one to make that decision. Nobody else. And to the fans. I’ve always been here. Martial arts is my life. It has been since the age of nine. It’s my brother Justin Reinhardt’s too. He’s also a pro fighter. I am also fighting for our name and our reputation too. Just wait.
PRO MMA NOW: Why was this the right time to come back and how did this fight get set up for you?
JASON REINHARDT: This is not a comeback. Just because I’ve not fought in a while. I fight everyday. I train everyday. I am a fighter, man. Again, I always knew with my professional record and my finishes I would eventually get the exposure I deserve. Now is that time. At 41-years-old, I’ve never felt better. I’ve done everything humanly possible to win this fight. I go to bed at night and sleep very well, knowing this. It’s all about your training, and your teammates. I am now supported by the best team in the world. The Wand Fight Team. I refuse to let them down. Representing Wanderlei Silva’s name is something I take very serious.
PRO MMA NOW: You were originally supposed to fight Tie Quan Zhang “The Mongolian Wolf” last fall but failed an eye exam. I understand you had corrective laser surgery after that. What was that experience like with the surgery and everything and I assume you are all good to go now?
JASON REINHARDT: Yes, I was scheduled to fight Zhang in the WEC for Sept. 30th, and had to get the eye surgery done before they would allow me to fight again. The surgery went great, and I am ready to fight.
PRO MMA NOW: How disappointed were you when you found out you had failed the exam and weren’t going to be able to fight? How far into your training camp were you?
JASON REINHARDT: I was very disappointed when my fight in the WEC was cancelled. I was almost finished with my training camp. I was in Utah training high elevation with my brother Justin Reinhardt. I spent a lot of money on the road preparing. when the fight suddenly got cancelled. I began worrying about my future, at that moment. However, no matter how bad things get, you always have to stay positive. I fought for 11 years with my contacts in. So, I was confused how this happened. However, I respect the UFC, and how they look out for the safety of the fighters. You don’t get anymore professional than the UFC. I flew home, and immediately scheduled PRK corrective eye surgery. Now I am seeing 20/15. That’s better than 20/20 vision. And now instead of the fight being in the WEC, it’s now in the UFC. I honestly in my heart feel GOD knew what was best for me. Often times things happen for a reason. I always keep my faith in GOD.
PRO MMA NOW: What do you think about the WEC-UFC merger and the current crop of featherweights in the UFC right now and where do you see yourself fitting in the picture?
JASON REINHARDT: I feel the merger of the WEC and the UFC is a great thing. Let’s face it. The UFC is the top organization and the most recognized. However, there are so many tough, talented fighters out there. Especially here at Wand Fight Team. My new team. I just hope they all get their opportunity. I sometimes worry with the merger it may decrease the chances of some of the fighters getting their shot, because now it’s just the UFC, pretty much. Before, guys could also get their shot within the ZUFFA organization by fighting in the WEC as well. Now, it’s all one, and there are only so many shows. On the other hand, perhaps since the merger, the UFC plans on doing way more shows than before. I sure hope so. It kills me seeing this incredible talent at Wanderlei Silva’s gym, and not seeing some of these guys in the UFC. I’m sure in time, they will all get their shot. I am very grateful for the position I’m in. I take this very serious. This is my life, and I’ve worked my ass off to get here. And by the way, I feel I fit in very well with the featherweights. How about you tell me after you see my aggressive style. I am an exciting fighter, who always comes in shape ready to fight. I always go for the finish and take risks. This is what people pay to see.
PRO MMA NOW: You had been fighting at lightweight, do you feel featherweight is a more natural fit for you and how hard will it be for you to make 145?
JASON REINHARDT: Yes, when I fought Joe Lauzon at 155-pounds this was way way out of my weight class. No excuses. He beat me fair and square. I will fight anybody, man. As long as it’s in a BIG organization like the UFC. You have to be intelligent about your career. It has to make sense. This is a business. You have to know when to take tough fights, and when to take tune up fights. I fight at 135-pounds. However, throughout my whole career everybody has been bigger than me. Shit man, back in the day, I fought guys 200-pounds, and gave up over 60-pounds. I honestly have never had the luxury of fighting someone my size. Even back in the day when it was damn near impossible to find a fight at 135, guys would say they were 135, and show up and weigh 150, 152, 155, whatever. I’ve been fighting since 1998. And I made my pro debut in 1999. Back in those days the weigh-in’s were a joke. I use to walk around at 134. So, to answer your question, it will be very easy to make 145, and I have no problem fighting this guy who is bigger and taller. That’s the story of my life. A fight is a fight, and i am ready.
PRO MMA NOW: If you get past Zhang, is there anyone specific you think would make an exciting fight for the fans that you would like to fight next?
JASON REINHARDT: What do you mean, “if i get past Zhang?” You mean when I get past Zhang, who do I want to fight next? I don’t make those decisions. My manager tells me who I will fight next and that’s how it works. I will fight whoever. I am just grateful I have Wanderlei Silva’s team behind me supporting me, and I will be with this team for life. There’s no way I am gonna lose representing a legend’s name like Wanderlei Silva and the whole Wand Fight Team. The guy’s gonna have to kill me. My mentality is stronger than it’s ever been in my life. I am ready.
PRO MMA NOW: Thanks for speaking with us at ProMMAnow.com, Jason. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
JASON REINHARDT: I just want to thank the whole Wand Fight Team for all their support and accepting me on their team.
MMA fans can learn more about UFC featherweight fighter Jason Reinhardt and keep up with what he has going on at his website www.jasonmma.com.