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With just a cursory glance at Jacob Malkoun’s record you might dismiss him and look baffled at the UFC’s choice to sign him.
Afterall, he is just 4-0 in his professional career and doesn’t have the pedigree of a Brock Lesnar or a Gokhan Saki. However, let the Aussie explain it for himself and it’s not as if he just rattled off some fights quickly and got noticed. The low number of fights has a reason all it’s own.
“I’m pretty early in my pro career, but it was just hard in this country to get a fight,” Malkoun explained. “It’s not like I just turned pro, fought 4 [times] and then got in. I had a lot of pullouts and cards got cancelled. It’s hard for people on the outside [to see], but obviously the UFC knows I’m not some fake fighter. I’m ready to fight.”
And that real fighter has experience outside of the cage as well. Despite being only a purple belt, the teammate of Robert Whittaker entered into the Asian trials for ADCCs in the same division as the former UFC middleweight champ. When the dust was cleared the two never had to compete against one another, but Malkoun would come out on top of the whole thing, earning him a spot in the 2019 World Championships.
Although Malkoun punched that ticket to the biggest grappling tournament in the world, he never used it. Instead, he withdrew from the competition about a month before.
“We had a fight booked two days after the ADCC World Championships,” he said. “Because it was so hard to find fights, we have to take the fights because MMA is my thing.”
His desire to get to the pinnacle of MMA led him away from that competition and instead he fought Sebastian Temesi on the Eternal MMA 48 card from Melbourne. The decision wound up being the right one as it was the bout that got Malkoun noticed by the UFC. While he might wonder sometimes what would have happened, he doesn’t let it occupy his brain too much.
“We grapple everyday - we work hard on our grappling. I call myself a grappler, but I can’t put the grappling stuff in front of my MMA career. Anyways, man, I think my first match would have been so I was probably lucky,” he said with a laugh.