FIGHTING FIT: Jesse Medina, pictured left, faces a featherweight title fight at Aftershock MMA on September 29. Jesse is pictured against Jack Jenkins last year. Photo: WILLIAM LUU

By MITCH RODD

JESSE Medina can consolidate his name as one of the best featherweight mixed martial artists in Australia by winning a title belt this month.

The bout for ‘Funky Cold’ at Aftershock MMA 30 at Gladstone, Queensland, later this month has it all – the Featherweight Title belt on offer and an opponent who has forced him to tap out previously.

The Mildura fighter comes up against home State hero Aaron Blackie on September 29. The last time they met at Adrenalin Caged Combat 2 back in April 2015, ‘The Educator’ won via submission. It was only Jesse’s second loss since turning pro.

Their paths have been very different since that point, however. Jesse has gone on to compete in another 15 bouts, with his current record at 12 wins and eight losses, with a Valour Featherweight Title belt also thrown in. Blackie, however, did not return to fighting until April this year. After winning that fight, he suffered his first loss by split decision in July to a former Mildura fighter in Sam Hibberd.

Despite the previous encounter, Jesse said he’d be going into the fight with Blackie with a “clean slate” given the time between bouts.

“It was one of those days where it just didn’t click for me,” he said.

“Since then he’s only had the few fights while I’ve had 15. Basically we’ll be going into the fight with a clean slate.

“I mostly worry about myself in the lead-up and my own preparation, but I have studied a bit of footage from his fight with Sam which can hopefully help me find a few advantages.

“I’m more well-rounded than I was last time I faced him. I’ve always got to improve every aspect. My stand-up fighting has gone on in leaps and bounds since fighting Aaron last time. He got me by submission but I think my wrestling and Jiu Jitsu has also improved.

“I’d never heard of Aftershock before, I thought they were more based around amateur fights, but they’re starting to take over and are really growing busier. They’re getting ex-UFC guys on the card and in this main event, they’re pushing for UFC contracts.

“They’ve already asked me about potentially defending the title if I win. This will be the third belt I’ve fought for. I missed out last time so I’d love to get another belt.”

Jesse’s only bout of 2018 so far was when he lost on a split decision to Jordanian Izzeddine Al Derbani by split decision at Phoenix FC 6 in Abu Dhabi.

His last victory came on September 1, 2017, when he forced Jack Jenkins to submit via arm-bar in the second round of their Hex Fight Series bout. He has only had two bouts since that time.

Blackie will also only have a two-week turnaround before fighting Jesse after he comes up against Jordan Wallace at Eternal MMA 36 tomorrow.

Since April, Jesse has changed jobs, now working with Tim Aldridge at Mildura Property Advisors, and has spent plenty of time getting practice in.

“After the UAE fight I went to Thailand for a few weeks to train at Tiger Muay Thai,” he said. “I got to train with UFC fighters while I was there, and I actually ran into my UAE opponent who was training at the same time. We really got to know each other well there and trained together and even spent time at the beach together.

“As well as MMA training I’ve been working with boxers, personal trainers and even taekwon-do fighters. I’m always looking for ways to improve.”

Jesse’s fight with Aaron Blackie takes place on Saturday, September 29, at Gladstone. For further details, or to live stream the event, visit www.aftershockmma.com.