411 MMA Interview: A Conversation With Jason High
Posted by Todd Bergman on 01.15.2009
411mania’s Todd Bergman recently had the opportunity to talk with Affliction’s Jason High, who is busy training for his upcoming showdown at Affliction’s “Road To Reckoning” with Jay Hieron. High discusses his up bringing in the sport, previous fights, his favorite fighters, and the upcoming fight on January 24, along with his experience with the Ultimate Fighter, and finally gives his predictions for the upcoming Fedor vs. Arlovski and GSP vs. BJ Penn fights.
MMA fans in the United States will have the opportunity to watch a part of the Affliction show as the under card airs live on HDNet before enjoying the main card on Pay-Per view. This will be a great opportunity for fans to watch some fantastic fights and get to know some younger fighters who have worked hard for this opportunity. Jason High is ready for his time to shine and had the following things to say in an exclusive interview with 411mania.com.
Starting his fighting career out in 2005, Jason High relied on his outstanding background in wrestling. High is a former collegiate wrestler at the University Of Nebraska where, more importantly, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in History in 2005. Being an intelligent fighter has taken Jason to an unbeaten record and earned him the title of "Rising Star For 2009." Jason has done a tremendous job of mixing up his great striking ability with slick submissions that have gained him wins over UFC veteran James Giboo and a VFC Welterweight Title win over Kevin Burns. For some of you that might not be aware of the tradition of the VFC Welterweight Title, there has yet to be a champion who has not made it to the bigger organizations. High continued this trend when he signed on with Affliction to take his biggest fight to date against the dangerous Xtreme Couture-trained Jay Hieron.
"I admired Kevin Randleman when I first started fighting. I actually drew a lot of comparisons to him, so that was pretty flattering."
411mania: First and foremost Jason, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy training schedule to sit down with 411mania.com
411mania: I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but you were voted "Rising Star For 2009" in my column, "Tapping Out With TBerg." Any thoughts on the award?
Jason High: Actually I was aware and I appreciate the endorsement. The day before I talked to you my girlfriend had actually come across the article. I think it's great! As the old saying goes, I really don't care what you say about me, as long as you spell my name right.
411mania: How did you get into Mixed Martial Arts?
Jason High: Some of my high school wrestling coaches were fighting in Amateur MMA fights when I returned from Costa Rica my Senior year in College. I asked if they could get me a fight and [I] started training in the Nebraska wrestling room with two of my friends. Eight months later, I was fighting.
Jason High KO's Troy Acker in 24 Seconds at GC 74: Evolution
411mania: How did being a former collegiate wrestler at Nebraska prepare you for your career in MMA?
Jason High: It was excellent preparation. I think the work ethic and position knowledge that wrestlers have is essential in MMA, very useful. I owe a lot of my success in MMA to my wrestling background.
411mania: Who are some of your favorite fighters and in what ways have they influenced your fighting style?
Jason High: I admired Kevin Randleman when I first started fighting. I actually drew a lot of comparisons to him, so that was pretty flattering. Right now I'd have to say my favorites are BJ Penn, Shinya Aoki. Really I just like watching good fights, no matter who is fighting.
411mania: You made your debut in 2005 and won that fight in impressive fashion. You finished your opponent that night with a Rear Naked Choke. You also have two other wins by submission accredited to your name. Was it hard when you first started training BJJ to get the technique down or was it something that your athletic instincts adapted to quickly?
Jason High: BJJ is probably the easiest facet of MMA for me to learn. I've been wrestling since I was little, so it came easy. BJJ and wrestling both fall under the grappling umbrella so it was an easy transition.
411mania You hold two wins over fighters now competing in the UFC, James Giboo and Kevin Burns. Is there any extra motivation that goes into training each day because you have beat opponents that are fighting in the UFC?
Jason High: Nah, not really. I don't think about those guys when I'm training. For me there's plenty of motivation to go to the gym and train. I love fighting and training so it's easy. It's much better than having a regular job.
"It's much better than having a regular job."
411mania: You made a tough decision and decided to move to California to train. How has that affected your career?
Jason High: It was a tough decision. I had been in Lincoln for 5 years; I left my girlfriend and didn't really know anybody in Cali. But it has made a world of difference. We go in as a team twice a day and work hard. It's a set schedule, and we have good guys in there everyday; the level is very high. We've had plenty of people come and leave because they can't handle it.
411mania: Your next fight is scheduled for January 24th at Affliction "Day Of Reckoning." Your opponent is Jay Hieron. What are your thoughts on the upcoming bout and on fighting for a company like Affliction?
Jason High: It's great to fight for an organization like Affliction; they've been very professional thus far. Jay is a great opponent; I look forward to competing against him.
411mania: What's the one thing that you must do to gain the victory in this fight?
Jason High: I don't know that there's one thing that will make or break this fight. I'm preparing for a tough fight and I'm sure Jay won't disappoint me.
411mania: Is the goal for this upcoming fight to become a better all around fighter or are you trying to develop one skill more than others to counteract Hieron's skill set?
Jason High: I feel more well-rounded is better. I'm always looking to get better at everything.
411mania: With the fight being broadcasted on HDNet and taking place in a huge venue in Anaheim, do you have any nerves or is it just business as usual?
Jason High: Business as usual. I'm pretty laid back and stay on an even keel for every fight. Every fight is important and this one is no different.
"I'm always looking to get better at everything."
411mania: After January 24th, what will people be saying about Jason High?
Jason High: Probably that I have a few screws lose.
411mania: As an MMA writer, I've been very critical of The Ultimate Fighter concerning how the show is edited and the antics that go on. Before signing with Affliction did you ever consider trying out for the show? Would it be something that you would recommend to younger fighters?
Jason High: I actually was contacted by the show before I came to California; I sent in a video but didn't hear anything back. Like I said I'm pretty laid back, which obviously doesn't fit the archetype for that show. I would just say to younger fighters to be careful with that show. From what I understand once you're on the show the UFC owns you, so that's something to think about.
Getting to know Jason High outside the fight
411mania: Do you have any pets? If so what kind?
Jason High: I have a cat by default. My girlfriends, I inherited him.
" I have a cat by default. My girlfriends, I inherited him."
411mania: What's your favorite TV show?
Jason High: The Sopranos probably.
411mania: Favorite musician or group?
Jason High: Jay-Z
411mania: Favorite sports team?
Jason High: I don't really watch much organized sports. The Nebraska Cornhuskers, I guess.
411mania: Fedor or Arvloski?
Jason High:Gotta go with Fedor. In my opinion he's one of the best ever. But, with all the recent upsets...who knows.
411mania: Penn or GSP?
Jason High: GSP.
411mania:What is something about yourself you think would surprise MMA fans?
Jason High: I can cook.
411mania: If you weren't an MMA Fighter what would you be doing?
Jason High: Probably be in grad school, which I may do anyway.
411mania: Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
Jason High: I'd like to thank Gazelle Incorporated, one of my sponsors. Also, Antonio Mckee and all the boys at the Bodyshop. I have a new website, highfighter.com We're not quite done with it yet, but it'll be up in the next week.
I would personally like to thank Jason once again for taking time away from his training to participate in this interview. All of the pictures used in this article can be found on Jason's Myspace site at www.myspace.com/samuraihigh.