Jordan Parsons has big plans, most of which involve clubbing one opponent at a time on his way to capturing a world championship. When speaking to the featherweight, it becomes evident that he is a man on a mission, a fighter who believes he will someday rise to the top of his sport. Not long ago, however, the North Dakotan was fighting for something much more important.
“I almost lost my life,” Parsons told Sherdog.com. “I had a staph infection in my leg that literally almost took my limb and my life. I had to recover from it, and that took a full six months.”
Parsons was running roughshod over competition on the regional circuit at the time, as he opened his career with seven straight wins and captured the Championship Fighting Alliance featherweight championship by beating Danny Chavez by decision in February 2012. Lazar Stojadinovic knocked out Parsons out four months later, and health issues cut short his quest to regain the title.
The 25-year-old Parsons is not exactly sure where he contracted the staph infection but admits he will never forget the horrible condition in which he found himself, nor the relief he felt when he realized he was finally out of the woods. There are permanently ingrained memories of being strapped to a hospital bed with a rampant fever, terrible pain coursing through his body and uncertainty about whether or not his immune system and doctor’s efforts would prove successful. Death was a real possibility.
“Just the thought of me possibly dying was very difficult to get my head around, laying there in that hospital bed,” Parsons said. “It was about a week straight [of] not knowing if I was going to make it. They had to put a catheter in me because I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even pee. This all happened about a week before I was supposed to rematch Danny Chavez in the CFA. So I had to get that taken care of, get totally healed up and get my body and mind ready again, which took about eight months. I don’t ever want to go through that again.”
Parsons eventually recovered and returned to fighting shape, and he has not looked back since. After scoring a pair of comeback wins under the Driller Promotions banner, Bellator MMA scooped up the once-beaten Blackzilians rep. Parsons has been terrific for the Scott Coker-led organization, as he knocked out Tim Bazer at Bellator 117 and then submitted Julio Cesar Neves Jr. -- the Brazilian was 30-0 at the time -- at Bellator 137.
Up next: a date with Bubba Jenkins in the Bellator 146 co-main event on Friday at the Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Parsons knows all about “The Highlight Kid” but sees nothing special in Jenkins -- a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler who won a national championship at Arizona State University in 2011.
“When you’re speaking of his skill level, I’d say he’s a very good wrestler,” Parsons said, “but I think he’s a good opponent for me and I can’t wait to show that he picked a bad matchup. He’s sitting here saying this will be an easy paycheck, but he’s gonna have to show me that. Never have I been an easy paycheck for anybody.”
Jenkins has won five of his last six fights, losing only to former World Series of Fighting champion Georgi Karakhanyan. Parsons has not had a problem finding motivation.
“One of the things is that I don’t like him. That helps me a lot,” he said. “I haven’t had to fight somebody I didn’t like in a long time, so that’s kind of exciting. So he is good at wrestling? I don’t care. Go ahead and shoot on me and, what, take me down? People have been shooting on me since I was 11 years old. Come on, man. I’m not worried about that. His standup is sloppy. His chin, his heart and his conditioning are always suspect in my mind, and I plan on testing all three.”
Parsons believes he has improved while training with the Blackzilians in Florida, a camp that includes former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, Eddie Alvarez and Michael Johnson, among others. He enjoys the challenge that the setting provides.
“We got people out here that are looking to take my head off every day, and that’s what I want,” Parsons said. “I’m looking for every day that I walk into that gym that I gotta be on top of my game. That’s how I’m going to get better and that’s what I’m always trying to do -- is improve. I’m not too worried about what my opponents might do because I’m only focused on being the best Jordan Parsons I can be.
“It’s literally every day I’m learning something new, and it can be something really technical like some small nuance to a technique or something as simple as balance,” he added. “Everyone can teach you something, I learned; and the moment you stop trying to learn from people is when you become frozen on that plateau. I’m always asking questions to everybody about what I did wrong, what I did good. I’m always trying to improve upon everything. There’s never a day where I show up and just go through the motions. You just can’t ask for anything better than the Blackzilians at this point.”
Parsons expects the day-to-day grind at an elite camp to shape him into a future champion, and he wants to take another step forward against Jenkins. When asked what his opponent did well, outside of his proven wrestling skills, Parsons paused and then provided the simplest of answers: “I’m drawing a blank, man.”