Bubba Jenkins: I expect myself to be one of the top fighters in the next 2-3 years

At Bellator 126, NCAA wrestling champion turned MMA prospect Bubba Jenkins will face the toughest test in his career in Thiago Meller.Bubba Jenkins

Sporting a record of 19-5, Meller has built a reputation as a talent at featherweight with skills on the ground – he has thirteen victories by way of submission. Although Jenkins respects Meller’s grappling IQ, he believes that he’s prepared for the Brazilian.

“Thiago Meller has a really good Jiu-Jitsu game, and I have to be very aware of that because Jiu Jitsu can be wrestling’s kryptonite,” said Jenkins. “I believe that I’m ready for him. He’s somebody that I’m going to keep my chin down and my hands going against, and looking for the takedown, of course. I plan on putting more hands to him than usual before my wrestling, just to soften him up a little bit.”

Although Jenkins is known to the MMA world as Bubba, that’s not his actual name.

“My real name is Jesse Jenkins III but everyone knows me as Bubba Jenkins,” said Jenkins. “My grandpa was Jesse Jenkins Sr. and he died when I received my full ride scholarship to Penn State and my dad was Jesse Jenkins Jr. – I have both of them tattooed on my arm. My son was just born a couple of months ago and he’s Jesse Jenkins IV. The Jesse Jenkins name in my family is a really big tradition.”

Jenkins takes pride in his name as he looks to carry the legacy of it in his athletic endeavors.

“If you have the Jesse Jenkins name, you’re like a beacon of the family,” said Jenkins. “I want to be the biggest beacon of my family. My father and the name I’m carrying on is something that I think about daily, and it’s constantly on my mind when I’m training.”

Along with his name, Jenkins also looks to his fiancé and son for emotional support and motivation to succeed in the sport. Success at Bellator 126 would not only improve Jenkins’ place in Bellator, but help out with turning his fiancé into his wife.

“We’re (Jenkins and his fiancé) waiting until I get the title and the belt-money to get our wedding going,” he said. “I had a cop pull her over, and she was getting out her license and registration, thinking she was in trouble for something. She didn’t even see me walking up after I hopped out of the car. I proposed to her right there, and she said yes.”

With a victory over Meller, Jenkins will be able to provide for his family, make the transition from prospect to contender and move further along in his goal to become one of the premier fighters in the sport.

“I expect myself to be one of the top fighters in the next 2-3 years. I feel like I’ll be on top, and that I’ll earn a chance to fight for the title.”