Deep on the UFC 247 prelims, there was a knockout that pretty much set the tone for the night of fights that were to be had. Journey Newson knocked out Domingo Pilarte in just 38 seconds. Newson improved to 10-2 as a professional and righted the ship on his newfound UFC career. We spoke with Journey Newson in this interview about that fight, his debut loss, and his place in the UFC’s bantamweight division.
Newson has had an interest in martial arts for some time. He started around his teenage years in taekwondo and shifted focus to jiu jitsu in his 20’s.
“I did taekwondo when I was younger, probably around 12 or 13 years old. At 20 I kind of wanted to get back into it in some way, shape or form. I went to impact jiu jitsu to learn about Brazilian jiu jitsu and immediately fell in love with it. First day, my head coach commented on how I was naturally moving. He asked if I did wrestling, which I should have, but I didn’t know I would be doing this for a career. One thing just kind of led to another and we would do tournaments. They asked me if I was interested in standup and they got me into standup and now we’re 20 fights in still doing it together.”
Journey Newson’s Gameplan at UFC 247
Newson and his team crafted a simple gameplan going in to the UFC 247 fight. They knew the disadvantage Newson had in size and planned to use that false sense of confidence Pilarte would have to their advantage.
“We figured he would come in with straight punches. He did have quite a bit of reach on me. So we figured we would take my head off that center line and come over the top and would eventually catch on in 15 minutes. We just didn’t know it was going to be so quick.”
After losing his UFC debut last June in a close fight, Newson felt like he proved that he belongs in the UFC with such a statement. He said, “It definitely solidifies my place where I belong. I felt I belonged in the UFC after that fight with Ricardo Ramos. We went all three rounds. I took that big shot at the end of the first round and the elbows in the third round. At that point I felt I belonged but this solidifies that fact.”
What does the future hold?
As for what’s next, he would really like to compete in his home state of Oregon. The one catch is lasting damage from his last fight, as short as it was.
“I was looking toward that Portland card on April 11th. With surgery, because of that headlock I took in the first few seconds of the first round, he fractured my zygomatic bone. I needed surgery and six weeks without sparring. In the mean time I’ll hit pads or something. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to get on that card. But any card after that card, I’m making sure that I’m ready and prepared for any guy they throw at me.”
Even if by some miracle he does recover in time and get to fight on that card in Portland, Newson would be incredibly grateful for the opportunity. Competing in his home town would be a dream come true for the bantamweight contender.
“It would definitely mean a lot. I have most of my fans out here based in Oregon. After that fight, a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon, especially me being for Portland. I’m originally from California but I’ve been here 10 years. I definitely love this area and I think I repped it very well on February 8th in Houston, Texas. Being on the April 11th card would be awesome. It would help get my name out there.”
How is that recovery going? Well, Newson has already got back to the cardio workouts and has no other injuries from UFC 247.
“Recovery is pretty good. We just had surgery and I put in a few miles every other day. I’m still kind of recovering. But, it was 38 seconds so there’s not much to recover from except for that surgery.”
Experience in boxing
Journey Newson also has two professional boxing matches. His team had him take those fights to improve his hands and they feel like it has worked. If Zuffa did come around with an offer to box again, he would jump at the opportunity.
“That would be something I’m definitely interested in. I did those two boxing matches just to get my hands wet more in the ring and just throw more and more confidently. Those two boxing matches led to a knockout in Vegas and in Houston. I’d say it’s working well.”
But, for right now, MMA will be his path of choice. There are no names in specific, he just wants to work his way up the division and take whoever is out there for him.
“I proved with that Ricardo Ramos fight that it doesn’t matter who they send me. Right now I’m not looking at any names. I know I’m still new to it, a lot of people don’t know my name. I’m sure a lot do now after that knockout. But, anybody they’re willing to give me, I’ll go for it.”
If the opportunity to fight the champ, Henry Cejudo, every came up, Newson’s gameplan is simple, keep it standing. He feels his power will be the difference in a hypothetical matchup.
“Definitely with the striking area. Henry Cejudo’s striking is pretty good, he’s obviously more of a ground guy. I know he’s the champ right now. But, I’m coming up in the sport. With the knockout power that I already have, I can definitely see myself fighting him in the new future and knocking him out.”
In the improvement section, while Journey Newson provided a 38 second knockout, he still feels like his boxing is still coming to form. With all his experience with jiu jitsu, he feels they’re not on the same level yet, but they’re getting there.
“I come from a jiu jitsu background. All my classes are jiu jitsu so I go somewhere else for boxing. We’re starting to feel comfortable there, I already feel very comfortable on the ground. So I try to do more standup in fights now. With this fight, especially with the Ricardo Ramos fight, I wasn’t trying to go to the ground, coming from a jiu jitsu based school. I am definitely just trying to get my hands wet. I know that’s what Dana White is looking for. He’s looking for knockouts, he’s looking for exciting fights. Any way to get eyes and attention on the UFC. That’s what he’s looking for and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for big pay checks and to work my way up the division. If it’s a knockout, more power to me.”
Predicting UFC 248
With Israel Adesanya being the new rage in the UFC, fans are eagerly awaiting his next title defense. This time he takes on arguably the most dangerous man in the division: Yoel Romero. Journey Newson gave his take on the title fight and picked a winner.
“I think Adesanya just has a very high IQ fight game. Yoel Romero is good but it just seems like Adesanya just might scrap this one out. He has wins over Anderson Silva and Whittaker. I honestly Whittaker would win that fight but Adesanya just smoked him. If Romero uses his wrestling and goes to the ground I can see Yoel Romero scratching out a win, but my pick is on Adesanya for sure.”
Just your friendly neighborhood sports fan!