Though people were originally introduced to the dynamic striker in 2008 when he was featured in the Iron Ring–a reality television show for aspiring MMA fighters on the popular BET channel–Yager has perhaps amassed most of his notoriety due to his stint on the eleventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, where he was Tito Ortiz’ fourth pick. Over the years the show has produced some of the sports most notable athletes with personalities that much their talent. Jamie is no exception.
He had two exhibition wins while on the show, both first-round knockouts, however eventually fell victim to Josh Bryant. Invited back under the Zuffa umbrella at the shows live finale, Jamie was unsuccessful at besting Team Chuck Liddell member Rich Attonito in June of last year, and was subsequently released by the UFC.
Eventually, in an effort to seek continued improvement, Yager teamed up with Kings MMA, headed by legendary coach Rafael Cordeiro. The Brazilian has trained some of the best fighters in the sport today, including former PRIDE champ Wanderlei Silva, Abu Dhabi Submission Grappling champ Fabricio Werdum, and current UFC titleholder Anderson Silva–all of whom continue to make trips to their master, who now resides out of Huntington Beach, California.
“It’s definitely a blessing. Rafael Cordeiro brought me under his wing and he’s allowed me to be a part of the family, so with that I’m very excited, very happy”, said Jamie.
“Rafael Cordeiro has got a lot of great guys that follow him and they put their dreams with him and follow his foot steps, follow his coaching and his technique. I’m just another guy in the family with them. I love this sport and I love the craft, I love the technique…with that said, I’m definitely honored to be a part of the team and be a part of the family.”
The athletes that pour out of Cordeiro’s gym are too large in number to name, however all have impacted Yager one way or another in improving his overall game. A noted striker, Jamie proved his continued evolution as a fighter when he was able to submit Marcus Gaines earlier this year. This new founded confidence will be detrimental in his next outing, as the afro-donned combatant will next meet with a stern test in undefeated prospect Willie Parks–a stud wrestler who is 4-0 and is trained tutelage of the famed Greg Jackson out of New Mexico.
But, does Jamie have a lot to gain from a fight with a relative unknown, given his popularity that has lingered from his stints on reality television?
“Honestly, I think it’s a good fight”, began Yager.
“For him, he’s undefeated, taking on me–it’s a big name for him to try and get some notoriety, to put somebody with a name under his belt. For me, it’s also a win because when I take care of him I get to solidify myself by taking out a top collegiate wrestler; international wrestler in the world. He’s definitely established himself in another realm, but here we’re not wrestling, we’re fighting…I think it’s just going to be a game of who catches who first and who executes the game plan. I think the fight definitely represent a good opportunity for both people to solidify themselves a little more in the game.
“I think everybody eventually reverts back to what they know best. A lot of people in MMA, they look to go for the KO. Maybe there will be some fireworks to begin with, but after that’s not working, I believe he’s going to revert back to his wrestling. It’s going to be up to me to shut that down and show him that that’s not what we’re doing. We’re not here to wrestle, the fans want to see something exciting and that’s what I want to give them.”
The two will meet at MMA Fight Pit’s inaugral show, “Genesis”, which will be available in over 90 million homes due to it’s pay-per-view distrubution deal here in North America. The event takes place in Willie’s familiar stomping grounds Albuquerque, which has absolutely “zero” effect on Jamie heading into the bout.
“At the end of the day, it’s work. I’ve fought in Florida, I’ve fought in Louisiana, I’ve fought in Vegas–I’ve fought all over and I’m not always on my soil”, said the middleweight, who hails from Pasadena, California.
“To tell you the truth, I’ve never fought in my hometown, so it’s something where whether you’re booed, or whether you’re cheered for excitement–as long as you make some noise, because that’s real entertainment. As long as people want to see you.”
While there are many distractions in this sport, what keeps Yager motivated and humbled are those closest to him. The family he’s built for himself, which includes a son, are all the inspiration he needs to draw from to continue living his dream.
“I definitely want to set the bar high for my little one and to put food on the table to take care of my family, that’s number one. They’re my foundation and I’ll continue to persevere through life. I’m 27-years-old, I’m living the dream, I’m competing, and I’m able to provide for my family. Just because I’ve been on two T.V. shows, just because I continue to fight, just because I can make a name for myself in this sport–the bar is never capped; that’s not the end of it.”