Bubba Jenkins has ‘absolutely’ no regrets if he never fights in UFC; PFL allows fighters to know their ‘self-worth’
When Bubba Jenkins first made the move into mixed martial arts following a collegiate wrestling career that saw him capture an NCAA championship in 2011, he immediately became a top prospect worth watching.
Less than two years after making his debut, Jenkins was signed by Bellator where he stayed for 11 total fights before eventually moving onto other endeavors. On Friday, Jenkins will engage in his seventh fight for the PFL as he competes for the featherweight championship against Brendan Loughnane in the finals for the 2022 season.
With stints in the PFL, Bellator and Brave CF as well, the one glaring omission from his resume is the UFC, which seemed like a prime landing spot for Jenkins after college. It never happened and while there’s still plenty of time left in his career, Jenkins admits that he has no regrets if he retires one day and there’s never a single UFC fight on his resume.
“Absolutely 100 percent [OK if I never fight in the UFC],” Jenkins told MMA Fighting. “The UFC thing, as far as being famous, as far as being in the gym training with the toughest, the best of the best, fighting on different stages, I’ve done everything that the UFC has to offer.
“It’s not like I’m sad or not ready or having been ready. I’m one of the best fighters in the world regardless of organization. There aren’t many people in the world that can beat me in 15 minutes, 25 minutes, whatever rounds they want to have. I’m a bad man. When I’m on, when I’m training and everything’s good with my children, it’s a problem to deal with me. I stand on that.”
There’s also a financial benefit to his current job in the PFL.
His fight against Loughnane will not only crown a 145-pound champion for the season but the winner will walk away with a $1 million prize, which is an amount of money many UFC fighters will probably never see in their careers.
“When I become champion, I’m going to start calling people out and we’re going to realize it’s not the end all be all with the UFC,” Jenkins said. “There are really tough fighters out there that just decided to have more power and have more understanding of their self-worth than taking whatever the UFC has to offer.”
While the UFC remains the biggest combat sports promotion, organizations like the PFL have given fighters another option, especially when hitting free agency and fielding offers on the open market.
Jenkins doesn’t have anything bad to say about the UFC necessarily but he’s proud to be part of the PFL.
More importantly, Jenkins is happy that he’ll be able to create a legacy there that can be rivaled against anybody else competing in other promotions.
“The platform that we have, the people that I’m working with in the PFL — Ray Sefo and all the people in the organization — it’s just amazing that we get to be a part of it,” Jenkins said. “Fight closer to our worth and have the platform to change lives with what we do through the fight game. I can’t complain.
“My mom taught me not to count another man’s bank so I don’t really look over there at the UFC. I’m worried about what I’m doing, I’m on my own path and the legacy I want to leave behind for my little ones and the inheritance that they have is what I’m after.”
Jenkins will have a great chance to add to his list of accomplishments with a win over Loughnane while also giving himself the kind of financial stability he could have never imagined.
He fully expects both to happen on Friday with the culmination of the PFL finals.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This is the best I’ve ever been,” Jenkins said. “Mentally, physically, we’ve got some finances behind us, which is a key in mixed martial arts just to have some money so you can lock in and breathe a little bit. Now that we have that and the goals that we want are so close and obtainable, this is the best you’ve seen and I’m getting better. That’s what scary.
“[The $1 million will provide] financial freedom for a long time. An ability to focus on my craft. To just have that breath of fresh air that a father looks for when he’s trying to provide for the things that his children need or the things that they want. I want to give them the life that I didn’t have growing up and even more of the things that I did have. That’s the inspiration for me.”