UFC lightweight Jordan Leavitt is proof that things can change in the world of MMA very, very quickly.
“The Monkey King” went from averaging one fight per year due to scarce opponents to more than doubling his pro appearances since December 2019, including a successful appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series to earn a UFC contract. He then pulled off a jaw-dropping octagon debut at UFC Vegas 16 that changed his life. The victory earned him his first performance bonus.
To say his last year has been crazy would be an understatement.
“I went from averaging a fight a year to having five fights in a calendar year – four fights in 2020 with four of the months completely cancelled,” Leavitt told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “Now I’ve got a baby on the way, bought a dog. 2020 has been the best year of my life so far. I went from having no luck to all the luck.”
The 25-year-old will become a father in February and picking up a win in his octagon debut, along with that extra $50,000 has certainly eased some of those nerves attached to welcoming a first child into the world.
“We had been looking at apartments the last few days and I was planning on getting a lease and paying it off for the entire year,” Leavitt said. “I’ve never had that stability in my life. I’ve never been able to enjoy knowing that for a year, me and my family would be okay. That 50 G’s is a game changer, it’s a life changer.
“I get to bring my daughter into the world when I don’t have to worry about paying the bills. I may be able to spend a few weeks with my family. Anything is worth that. I would do anything for that.”
Prior to his first-round submission win at DWCS Season 4: Week 1 of Luke Flores in August, Leavitt told MMA Fighting that while getting to the UFC to change his, and his family’s life was certainly something he wanted with his opportunity, there was more of an individual goal he wanted to obtain.
When asked what he did for a living, Leavitt would feel embarrassed telling people he was a pro fighter. After signing with the biggest organization in the sport, along with making an immediate impact, the Syndicate MMA standout feels he has made that goal a reality.
“Mission accomplished,” Leavitt stated. “[It feels] a little weird. There’s a lot of people that doubt you when you do things that are different and risky—people you love who are worried about you, and people you hate that will just talk down to anything you do.
“I’ve gotten a lot of negative feedback this entire time and I don’t hear them now. They’re just echos that are fading more and more in the distance because they were wrong. I got to prove them wrong and I’ll get to see them and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, congrats man. I’m really happy for you,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, sure man.’
“I’m happy to not be embarrassed anymore. I’m happy to know I wasn’t diluted, or silly, or someone who was just chasing a dream with no real basis to be chasing it. It’s a nice place to be in.”
After the win, Leavitt told reporters that he plans on spending the last trimester with his wife, supporting her ahead of their daughter joining them in February. While he previously said he would compete one week after his star-making performance at UFC Vegas 17, Leavitt hopes to return in March or April.
“Two weeks after that baby is here, I’m down,” Leavitt said. “I want to see what fights are open at that time, and we’ll see who will sign on the dotted line.”