The South Florida gym, which is affiliated with health care giant Sanford Health, is at the epicenter of one of the worst virus outbreaks in the country. UFC welterweight title contender Gilbert Burns lost a fight at UFC 251 with champ Kamaru Usman due to a positive test. Lightweight Jared Gordon tested positive and then lost all of his cornermen before the same event. Heavyweight Steve Mowry, scheduled to fight on the Bellator 242 card on which Jackson fights, tested positive and was forced off the event.
It’s been a rough go for the team, but Jackson said he managed to make things work using natural remedies.
“I did the test about six times, and I’ve been on my roots: ginger, garlic, honey, onions, you name it,” he told MMA Fighting on a virtual media day call in advance of the event on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena. “I’ve been keeping up my immune system. Anything can happen – it’s sick season, regardless if COVID [hadn’t] come around, people still would have gotten sick with the high level of training and everything. It’s normal in some gyms. It’s just now, if it’s a cough or a headache or what, people forget that they can’t destroy their immune system and just train every day. You need something to keep it up.
“So if you’re not taking care of immune system with everything going around right now, disease, not wearing a mask, you’re bound to get sick. I know a lot of people fear that get tested, like myself, over and over again, and nothing. What does that say? Henry [Hooft] tested maybe 50 times? Still [nothing].”
So far, gyms remain open in Florida despite questions about whether they’re responsible for virus spread. Governor Ron DeSantis believes gym goers are guarding themselves against the virus by working out and are low risk, even though transmission of the virus to more vulnerable populations remains the most pressing concern of the pandemic.
For his part, Jackson, who on Friday faces UFC vet Jordan Mein, cobbled together a training camp with whatever coaches and training partners he could find.
“You just grab a few guys that you know and seclude yourself,” he said. “Get it done.”
Jackson makes his third appearance as a Bellator fighter after near-misses at a UFC contract due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances. Despite his previous struggles, he believes he’s just coming into his prime as an athlete and fighter.
“I’m glad you took the time to look into that, because I feel like a lot of people forget that I had a lot of setbacks, and I’m still moving forward,” he said.
Against Mein, he’s eager to show the world that he’s more than the sum of his setbacks.
“I’ve been down the stairs and fallen off off several times,” he said. “We’ve just got to take it one step at a time, and we’re here, no matter what.”
But don’t expect him to throw too much caution to the wind. Several times that’s come back to bite him, and he’s not throwing any good opportunities away. Asked whether he expected a barnburner with the tough Mein, he flatly said no.
“I learned so much from the Ed Ruth fight,” said Jackson, who lost a decision to the Bellator standout in his promotional debut in October 2019. “Even though I felt like I won the fight, that’s a lesson that came to me.”