Jared Downing has 13 pro MMA fights under his belt – and is just 24 years old.
Downing, a member of the featherweight division in Bellator, will return to action in April at Bellator 117 in his native state of Iowa.
The card is set for April 18 from the Mid-American Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The main event boasts Douglas Lima and Rick Hawn for the welterweight title.
Downing (9-4) is currently in his second run with Bellator, having fought for the promotion twice in 2010, winning both bouts. He recently talked with FightLine about what has changed about his approach to the sport.
“One thing that will surprise people is I’ve made it this far off my physical abilities and being tough – and that’s it,” Downing said. “I’ve been my own worst enemy. When it comes to training, I’ve always trained hard, but now I’ve added training smart to my game.”
Downing returned to Bellator last year, falling to Patricio Freire via TKO. He also suffered a loss to Rob Emerson. Those defeats have come on the heels of a split decision setback against Team Alpha Male prospect Lance Palmer.
To say it’s been a tough three-fight stretch for “DemonEyes” would be an understatement, as Freire, Emerson and Palmer are a combined 40-13.
“I know the mistakes I’ve made in my last two fights and I’ve done a lot to improve my game and myself,” Downing said. “I have those two Bellator wins from before…..so I know another win is just gonna happen.”
One of Downing’s coaches is Keoni Koch, the brother of Erik Koch. He is also directed by Ken McClelland and Dave Sherzer.
“I feel on top of my game training with my coaches and alongside Cliff Wright, DJ Sykora, Steve Carl, Lonnie Scriven, Beal Laughridge, Joe Vedepo and Jordan Sanford,” he said. “Training from 135 to big 270 pounders helps me get use to speed and size advantages.
“I’m not concerned with what my opponent wants to do because I know I’m doing the right things to be able to beat him to every punch. Being young might be my only flaw. Before, I used my physical abilities to win my fights.
“Now, I have changed how I train and am going to fight smart and use my physical abilities to stop their game and to imply my technique and my game to win the fight much easier.”
Downing is also excited about getting another chance to earn a Bellator win in Iowa, as his loss to Emerson came in his home state.
“Getting to represent Iowa in Iowa is awesome because I haven’t spent much of my professional career here, so it’s a change,” he said. “Plus, I hate planes.”
As a former Resurrection Fighting Alliance featherweight champion, Downing knows and understands what it takes to reach the top of the mountain. His goal in 2014 is to do it again.
“By the end of the year, I will have shown I’m top competition in Bellator and will have won – or will be in – the next tournament,” he said, “on my way to my next belt.”