Jordan Wright’s journey has seen him sleep on gym mats, graduate college and dream of becoming the next martial arts movie star. He has now surfaced as one of the more charismatic prospects in MMA.
The 26-year-old trains out of the Jackson-Wink MMA academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and currently holds a 9-0 record, with all nine wins resulting in first-round finishes. The middleweight was born in Texas but grew up in the Los Angeles area. As a kid, Wright was placed in gymnastics at age 4 but developed an interest in martial arts thanks to the cartoon Dragon Ball Z. He turned to karate as his first martial art, then moved to wushu, muay Thai and kickboxing. Although he was involved in various martial arts, the undefeated fighter credits the fact that he started gymnastics at such a young age for his kicking power. Pad holders noticed his kicks, pointing to the balance, flexibility and strength associated with gymnastics.
During this time, “The Beverly Hills Ninja” thought about pursuing a Hollywood career as either a stuntman or a martial arts actor, ala Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. The only barrier was that Wright did not want anyone questioning whether he actually could fight and defend himself.
“I am sure Lee and Chan could handle themselves in a fight, but people always had their doubts,” Wright told Sherdog.com. “I didn’t want to be that martial arts actor that doesn’t know how to fight.”
When Wright was 16, he participated in a couple of muay Thai smokers in a basement and was instantly hooked. He describes it as the moment he fell in love with fighting. After high school, Wright decided to make fighting a full-time job. His mother, who usually was protective of her son, encouraged him to pack his stuff and move to Albuquerque. With the help of his friend and now manager, Wright traveled to New Mexico and tried out for Jackson-Wink MMA. After passing the tryout, Wright slept and lived at the gym during the summer before his freshman year at the University of New Mexico. Wright spent the next five years honing his skills at the star-studded camp, sparring with the likes of Carlos Condit, Keith Jardine and Donald Cerrone, all while pursuing a degree in sociology.
After graduating from college, Wright made his professional MMA debut at 23 years old under the Xplode Fight Series banner. He was victorious, submitting John Lee with a rear-naked choke in just 63 seconds. “The Beverly Hills Ninja” has since won his next eight bouts, none lasting longer than 2:48. Wright’s balanced skills are evidenced by the fact that he has recorded five wins by submission and four by knockout or technical knockout.
“My style is very much based on karate and muay Thai,” Wright said. “I move like a karate guy -- counter striking, using fast footwork -- and kick like a muay Thai fighter.”
His developing ground skills make him a threat everywhere.
“I have a solid kickboxing base, but I am in love with jiu-jitsu,” Wright said. “I go out there, and once I hit them, they want to take me down; and that’s a bad decision for them, as well.”
Success has come as no surprise to Wright, who sees it as a byproduct of a commitment to his craft and a dedication to personal fitness.
“I live like a monk,” he said. “I don’t party, I don’t do drugs, I eat healthily and train all year round.”
Wright’s fast start drew the attention of the Legacy Fighting Alliance, and Wright signed with the promotion in late 2017. He made his organizational debut at LFA 30 on Jan. 12 and submitted Craig Wilkerson with a rear-naked choke 1:29 into the first round. While Wright wants to take his talents to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he seems content to wait his turn. He will put his unblemished record on the line against Hayward Charles at LFA 39 on May 4 in Vail, Colorado.
“The UFC is my goal,” he said. “Whatever happens is going to happen. The more experience the better, and I am going to keep doing me. They will sign me soon enough.”