"You're only as good as your last fight."
That saying doesn't sit particularly well with BKFC 20 competitor Ryan "Juggernaut" Jones.
When the 34-year-old Louisiana native enters the Bare Knuckle FC squared-circle in Biloxi, Mississippi on Friday night, he will do so trying to erase the painful memory of taking a loss at BKFC 17 earlier this year.
"I feel like I was winning the fight and still could have won the fight," Jones said of his matchup against Robert Washington. "That was the first time I was ever cut in a fight."
While Jones may not have been physically "hurt," the cut he sustained was more than enough for ringside physician, Dr. James Robinson and the fight was stopped less than a minute into the second round.
"I learned first hand that it is easier to get cut in bare knuckle so I need to have a little more head movement and try not to block punches with my face. Just because I can take them (punches), doesn't mean I need to. (Laughs). I learned to be a little smarter with head movement and come out a little more aggressive. The rounds are only two minutes and so I have to make every minute count.
"I really didn't feel it," Jones said of the cut. "I didn't know that I was in any danger of losing until the doctor said he was going to stop it because of the cut. I knew I was bleeding, and I kept chasing the guy (Robert Washington) and then the doctor said he was going to stop it and I was like, 'Oh shit.'"
Jones took the Washington fight on short notice and when asked if he is now second guessing that decision, he was quick to dismiss the talk.
"I'm a fighter," he said. "My goal is to climb as high as I can. If I got stopped in a parking lot somewhere and some guy is trying to beat me up, I'm not gonna be like 'tell me about your fighting style before I beat your ass in the parking lot.' I'm gonna fight whoever. It doesn't really matter. The opponent does not matter."
In order to ensure he is the best version of himself when he steps inside the squared-circle, Jones will be making a big adjustment in the way that he prepares for upcoming fights. He will enlisting the help of recently retired professional combat sports legend, Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia
"Leonard brings a ton of knowledge and he is just one of the coolest guys ever," Jones said. "He's going to be in my corner for this fight and once this fight is over, I'm going to be training with him full time."
The man standing in front of him in Biloxi on August 20th will be 46-year-old Kaine Tomlinson.
Tomlinson has also faced setback while competing in bare knuckle, and looks to record his first win with the promotion when he meets Jones this Friday.
"I think he is going to come out aggressive, like a bull. But I don't back down so I think we are going to be on a collision course in the center of the ring and see who comes out on top. If it goes the distance, there is something wrong. He comes to bring and I'm not backing up. They call me the Juggernaut for a reason. We'll see what happens. I think he is a tough guy, but I think he is going to be overwhelmed."
Jones isn't looking past Tomlinson as opponent, but he understands that the sport is also a business, and the next fight should always be on the horizon. With that understanding,
Jones has been trying to get his friend and retired professional combat sports athlete Chris Lytle to compete, but since that won't happen, he's got another name on the list.
"I've already got somebody in mind," he said.
"I was gonna make a joke about Chris and say, 'Since I can't get Chris Lytle to come out of the retirement home and fight me, I'm hearing that Diego Sanchez wants to hop on board and I'll gladly knock him off."
Sanchez, a former UFC fighter and Ultimate Fighters Season 1 winner, has yet to officially sign with BKFC, but if he does, Jones is looking to add his name to the growing list of fighters trying to get that fight.
"Everybody wants him. Who doesn't want a big name like Diego Sanchez? Just to compete against him would be cool. I wouldn't care if I got the hell beat out of me."
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC), The World’s Fastest Growing Sport, returns to Biloxi, MS for the seventh time with BKFC 20 emanating from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Friday, August 20 and broadcast live on the BKFC TV App in addition to globally on FITE.TV (8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT)
Advance tickets starting at $55 are now on-sale through Ticketmaster HERE. The Mississippi Coast Coliseum is located at 2350 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS 39531. Doors will open on the night of the event at 6:00 p.m. local time with the first bell at 7:00 p.m. local time.
BKFC-20 is headlined by the highly anticipated rematch between former BKFC world champion ‘Brutal’ Johnny Bedford, (5-1-0, 3 KOs), of Colleyville, TX and Reggie Barnett, (6-1-0, 2 KOs), of Virginia Beach, VA competing for the vacant BKFC Bantamweight World Championship.