LAS VEGAS – Bubba Jenkins still has a sour taste in his mouth over how his 2022 PFL season ended.
Last year, Jenkins (19-6 MMA, 5-2 PFL) had an impressive run, racking up three wins to reach the featherweight championship bout. The only man standing in his way of the title and the $1 million prize was Brendan Loughnane.
It was a competitive bout early, but Loughnane (26-4 MMA, 8-1 PFL) invested in leg kicks from the start, which paid huge dividends by hindering Jenkins’ movement. In the fourth round, the fight was over after a flurry of strikes, and Jenkins’ hopes of becoming PFL champion were crushed.
“I was winning a race and tripped at the finish line, so to speak,” Jenkins told reporters at Tuesday’s PFL media day at Xtreme Couture. “I feel like he did his best job to best me, in that round. I’m just excited for the season to start again to get that opportunity again. Six months of hard focus, I believe we can not only be back in the same seat, but be holding the belt at the end of the year. That’s the goal.
“… He put on a hell of a performance, it was definitely worth a million dollars for him, because I’m no easy feat to beat. I was in the right place, right time, I felt great, conditioning – everything was beautiful. We just didn’t come away with the victory as we wanted.”
In his first fight of the new season at 2023 PFL 1 on April 1, Jenkins will share the cage with a familiar face in Chris Wade. The pair fought in August 2021, when Jenkins was riding hot on a five-fight win streak. Wade (22-8 MMA, 10-5 PFL) halted the momentum, and it’s a fight Jenkins can’t wait to get back.
“It’s a fight that’s gotta happen, we gotta run it back, you know?” Jenkins said. “I don’t believe I was the same Bubba Jesse “Bad Man” Jenkins. Any names that those were, I was not that guy the first time me and Wade fought. A little part of me believes he believes that I was. … That’s just not the case. I’m hoping to show him a new and better and improved Bubba Jenkins.”
Despite getting rematch he wanted, Jenkins feels he has been given no favors throughout his PFL career when it comes to his first fights of the regular season.
“I kind of see it as, ‘Damn PFL, y’all don’t give your boy a break at all,’” Jenkins said. “‘Hey, welcome to the PFL. Why don’t you take on our two-time champion in Lance Palmer? Hey, welcome to the PFL. Why don’t you take on ex-(UFC) veteran Kyle Bochniak on an eight-day notice randomly as you’re getting ready to take on the tall Korean guy?’
“… The thing about Chris Wade is, I just have to get back to that place of staying composed. He has a haircut and a smile that makes me angry, so I’m not too fond of the fact that I know I’ll have to temper my emotions.”