After I got word that my fight with Kevin Forant was cancelled, I was a little down, but I continued to train at a very high level because I knew my brother, Joseph, was on the look out for any short notice fights for me. It is a good thing I continued training hard because he found me a fight for this past Saturday that turned out being my biggest challenge to date.
Last Tuesday my brother called me and I could tell he was excited. He asked if I wanted to fight that weekend, and for a championship belt. I was excited as well considering I have only fought for a belt one time and it was as an amateur and my opponent, Colt Howell, made my wrestling look like child’s play. As Joseph started to elaborate on the fight it got me a little worried to be honest. He said it was at 170, against a fighter that was 7-7, much more experienced than me, and he was 6’3”! The only other time I fought at welterweight was my second amateur fight against Tommy Dibernard. When he told me his height I was certainly not thrilled. But then I heard his nickname “Skinnyman” and that gave me a little relief.
So after signing the contract I try finding some fights and information on Tenyeh Dixon, my opponent, with very little success. He had 14 professional fights and I could not find any video or recaps of any of his fights, very frustrating. I trained lightly the rest of the week considering I was walking around about 165 and I was fighting at 170. It was the best fight diet ever; I was eating everything I could to gain a little weight.
It was an eight hour drive to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and I was a little nervous the entire way. I had not fought in almost a year, I was fighting a weight class above my own, against a guy that had fought as both a heavyweight and light heavyweight. The opponent was five inches taller than me, and I had a lot of pressure on me because of my last win over Dennis Bermudez.
At weigh-ins I saw Dixon and was not that impressed by his height and size. He did not look that much taller, and not much thicker than me. But the day of the fight he came in and I am sure he was at least 190! He looked much bigger than the day before. My nerves were getting me a little worried and for good reason, he was a much larger guy than me and much more experienced. You can view the fight below as well as my thought process as the fight was going on.
Walking out for the fight I was super nervous as I always am. But when that cage door closed it was business time. The bell rings and I start feeling out his ridiculous reach. I try reaching the body, but it was difficult, so I go in with a lead left hook, big mistake. He had the same idea, but his hook reaches my chin first and I go down like a sack of potatoes. When I come to, very quickly, I have a single leg on him and am able to walk it around and get to side control on him. I work a few short punches and some elbows, and try mounting. As I mount, he slips one hand through my legs, so I go for a triangle. I grab my ankle and roll to my back, but he gets my other leg trapped between his legs. Unable to finish the triangle, I let him pass to side control briefly so that I could get the under hook and get to my feet. Trying to take him down again, I slip and end up on my back in full guard. The round ends with me swinging around for an arm lock and him stacking me and defending well.
The second round starts and I work for a single leg takedown, once on the ground I defend a few submission attempts and work some ground and pound. I felt I was working and landing some good elbows, but the referee stood us up, way too quickly in my opinion. I go in for another single leg, and Dixon uses his skinny arms to lock up a reasonably tight guillotine. I control his wrist and try coming out the back when I slip to my butt. I get my head out and work to an under hook and scramble to my feet until he wrestles me back to the ground. Dixon decides to grab behind my head with his left arm and throw some heavy leather with his right hand, big mistake. As his left arm was extended, I swiveled my hips around and picked them up off the mat and sank the arm lock in. Dixon rolls, but as he does, I hip in and feel the elbow popping and him tapping. He screams and taps as he lands on his back and the referee stops the fight. I was so excited.
Dixon was a huge welterweight and a bit stronger than me, but I used that Royce Gracie jiu jitsu and pulled out the win. After the fight, I was so relieved. I had gotten a win for the first time in a year, and over a huge welterweight in a weight class I don’t belong in. I was happy. After posing for a few pictures with the team, Dan Severn, and the ring girls, we went to the back and celebrated more. It was a good night.
Lightweight is certainly my weight class and I plan on fighting at that weight from now on. I will leave the welterweight thing to the bigger guys! Going forward, I will hopefully be fighting at least once more before the end of the year, and improving to 6-0! I will be training harder than ever hoping that the next phone call might be a man by the name of Joe Silva!
I have to thank my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ, for every blessing and every breath. I thank my brother/manager, Joseph Rinaldi for the hard work and time he puts in to my career; he really is my biggest fan. I have to thank Hallie “Snake” Hair and the rest of my Team ROC teammates. I thank Shock Doctor and all the gear they have provided me with.
“The Jordan Rinaldi Experiment” will be an ongoing weekly ProMMAnow.com blog series written by one of North Carolina’s top lightweights as he looks to get to the major leagues of MMA. “The Jordan Rinaldi Experiment” is part of our ongoing series of exclusive content written by individuals involved in the mixed martial arts industry.