Jeff Loken is one of the fast rising lightweight fighters in North Carolina. Having moved to the Raleigh area from Wilmington to attend college at NC State, he found the sport of MMA and hasn't looked back since. The craziest part is that Loken has only been training in MMA for just over a year, but has managed to compile a (5-0) record in 2009 alone. It appears that he has a natural talent for fighting, and MMA4Real was able to catch up with him to see what's next on the agenda. Check it:
Kelvin Hunt: Jeff, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into MMA?
Jeff Loken: Thank you for having me. My name is Jeff Loken and I am originally from Wisconsin. I moved around a lot growing up so never had a chance for sports until I found a home in Wilmington, NC. I started playing football there and played for 7 years, and loved it. I loved it but didn't really have a future in football. I moved from Wilmington to Raleigh, NC in 2007 to start school at North Carolina State University. I went to the gym and played pick up sports here and there but it was all getting boring very fast. One night during my freshman year I couldn't sleep and was flipping through the channels and saw a WEC fight. That was the first time I had ever payed attention to MMA. From that point on I watched MMA just about every night it was on for many months. Then at the end of the summer of 2008 I saw a commercial for LA Boxing in Cary, NC that was opening up and that they would be starting an MMA program. In August of 2008 not knowing anything except for what I saw on TV, I went over and got my membership and started training and trying to learn anything I could to become a fighter.
Kelvin Hunt: Ok, first of all we UNC fans forgive you for attending NC State because everybody makes mistakes! Where are you currently training, and who are some of the people that are involved in your training camps right now?
Jeff Loken: I currently still train at LA, Boxing in Cary. Al Simmons has been there from the beginning showing me whats up. Then I am very fortunate to have Hameed Sanders. Hameed is my conditioning coach, and lets just say I have to mentally prepare myself in advance for that workout. He really has brought my game to a new level. Then there is Mike Velotta who gets my ground game where it needs to be. His Iron Lion Jiu-Jitsuteam is young but they are quickly filling up the walls with medals.
Kelvin Hunt: You just got your 5th victory of 2009 this past weekend at the Carolina Crown II event in
Raleigh , NC . Give us your thoughts on this fight, and is there anything in particular you learned from it?
Jeff Loken: Yes and thank you all who came out. Grant was a strong opponent. I knew he would be a tough one for considering he had his first fight a month before I started training and his wrestling back ground. I learned a lot from the fight. Lesson one is to get the weight cutting right. Cutting weight for this fight was up and down at times and come fight day I don't think I have gone to school that tired and worn out before. There is a lot on the ground that I need to work on after fighting Grant. I had him in a reverse triangle in the first round but just couldn't get the feeling right to finish it, so we will be coming back to the fight and fine tuning everything.
Kelvin Hunt: Right. How was it fighting near where you live here in North Carolina ?
Jeff Loken: My last two fights have been here in Raleigh and I really enjoyed it. It really cuts down on some of the stress of running here and there. At the Crown I can't really say I had a home crowd because Evolution is a big gym and are respected across the state and pull a lot of attraction but I still enjoyed the big scene.
Kelvin Hunt: Good stuff, I heard it was a good show. You are officially 5-0 now and have met the North Carolina requirement to turn pro. Is that something that’s on the horizon, or do you want to get a couple more fights under your belt before doing so?
Jeff Loken: My plans are to get my body back to 100% before moving forward with anything. From there I would like to start focusing on earning some belts in Jiu-Jitsu under Mike Velotta while entering into grappling tournaments. Along with that I will look into maybe some amateur boxing tournaments. As far as fights, I may look into having a few fights out of state after the new year before officially going pro.
Kelvin Hunt: What would you consider your biggest strengths in regards to MMA?
Jeff Loken: I would have to say probably my control. From the top or bottom I can usually control my opponent. Over all I would have to say everything is pretty even because I am still a green fighter.
Kelvin Hunt: For sure, On the flip side, if you had to pick one area in which you need to improve the most, what would it be?
Jeff Loken: The 7 years of football has really turned me into a in your face kind of fighter which has kept my striking to a minimum, which I am hoping to fix with some training in boxing.
Kelvin Hunt: With you being a college student at NC State. What’s your area of study, and would you say MMA is pretty popular among the students there?
Jeff Loken: I am a Sport Management major and seeking a double minor in coaching and fitness. It does seem pretty popular. Many students love hearing about it and following the progress of myself and other fighters that attend. The only down fall is that many college students aren't in the position to pay 35 dollars a ticket and not many promotions cut students a break.
Kelvin Hunt: Yea, that's something the local promotions need to work on in my opinion. Do you plan on fighting again before the end of 2009? If so, what show are you looking to fight on and is there anyone in particular you would like to fight?
Jeff Loken: I do not plan on fighting again in 2009. My focus is getting my body back to 100% and school. I have no one in mind that I would like to fight. I just like to fight and keep moving up in the sport.
Kelvin Hunt: What’s something about Jeff Loken that most people would be surprised to know?
Jeff Loken: That I am no different than anyone else and put in a lot of time and work to be successful. I get up at 4:30am many days to start work and then go from work to class, then from class to train, then train to homework and also fit in a girlfriend and sometimes find the way to go out haha. I am really just a guy trying to make it, who happens to fight and enjoy every minute of it.
Kelvin Hunt: Sounds like a man on a mission! Since you fight at lightweight, I have to get your thoughts on this match up. Sanchez/Penn at UFC 107. Who wins and why?
Jeff Loken: It's going to be a great fight! Both fighters are relentless and very tough! I feel that it's going to be a bloody 5 round war. BJ having the belt coming into it will probably have it leaving.
Kelvin Hunt: It should be a war, good stuff. Do you have any words of wisdom or anyone you would like to thank before we let you go?
Jeff Loken: Things will always get hard but keep pushing! You will do what your mind tells you so get your mind right and you can't be stopped.
I would first like to thank you for having me. I would like to thank everyone who has been there over the past year to help me get to this point. I especially would like to thank my parents for the support that they have given me, I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now if it wasn't for their support. Thank You All.