Carolina Fight Promotions welterweight champion Jake Whitfield (3-1 Pro; 6-0 Amateur) successfully defended his title last weekend. MMA For Real caught up with this 24-year-old prospect today to find out more about the fight and his future plans:
Rich Wyatt: Last Saturday at the Carolina Crown event in Raleigh you defended your CFP welterweight championship by defeating Brian Keller by unanimous decision. Tell us a little about your strategy going into that fight and how you think it went.
Jake Whitfield: My strategy going into the fight was the same as always. I wanted to avoid taking too much damage, get the takedown and then use my jiu-jitsu. As far as specific tactics, I knew that he had to know he couldn't compete with me on the ground. I was fully expecting him to come out with guns blazing and try to take me out early. I was partially right. His basic strategy was to look to land damaging strikes standing and stall the fight on the ground. For the first three rounds the fight went really well. He hit me with an absolutely perfect right hand in the first minute of the fight. It was straight down the middle and landed right on the chin. He literally couldn't have hit me more perfect. Too bad for him it did absolutely nothing. What it did do was make him hungry to land that punch again. After that punch, I took him down literally every time he threw a right hand up until the fourth round.
He did an incredible job of surviving on the ground. He took an incredible beating to the body but he never gave me a shot at a submission and I couldn't land the clean shots to the head it would have taken to end the fight. I did mount him in every round though. Just a phenomenal job on his part.
Between the third and fourth round his corner made an adjustment and figured out that I was taking him down off the right hand. He came out for the fourth round circling to his right and keeping all his punches really short and compact. At that point I needed to adjust my game plan and start using my hands to set up my takedowns offensively but I didn't make the adjustment I should have. Early in the round I was changing levels for a shot and he got a good angle and hit me on top of the head. The punch didn't hurt me a single bit but it did knock me down. I got back up, eventually landed another takedown and spent the last two minutes of the round mounted on him. Two of the three judges actually gave him a 10-8 round because of that knockdown. The fifth round was not a very entertaining round to watch. He was determined not to step in on his right hand and I was determined not to chase him. A lot of people have said that we were gassed but that's not true. He was in great shape and so was I but neither of us were willing to give up on our game plan so it made for a less than exciting final round. I took a poor shot, which he defended and actually landed on top briefly before I swept him and finished the fight on the top. Overall, I'm not at all satisfied with my performance but I learned so much from this fight. Since the fight I've talked to Royce, Rodrigo, Jason Culbreth, Brandon Garner, and of course my cornermen. They've all had great input and I'll be a better fighter next time. But a win's a win and my hats off to Brian Keller for having a great performance. If I'm completely honest he was more well prepared strategically on Saturday night than I was. Basically I won the fight because I'm a better fighter than him, but he is a better athlete than I am and he was more well prepared than I was.
Rich Wyatt: How do you feel coming off of this title defense. Any injuries?
Jake Whitfield: Nothing I would call an injury. The fight was 25 minutes so I'm just overall beat up but nothing major.
Rich Wyatt: When would you like to be back in action?
Jake Whitfield: CFP is doing a show February 27 in Wilmington. I really want to be on that show.
Rich Wyatt: Is there any fighter in particular that you'd like to face next?
Jake Whitfield: Yes. I wanted to say something about it in the cage after the fight but I was irritated with myself and it slipped my mind. Junie Browning just got released from the UFC. I think that kid is an absolute punk and I would love to fight him. Maybe at a catchweight; 160 or 162 or something like that. That would be a big fight for CFP and a big win for me.
Rich Wyatt: How are things going at your schools? Are you taking your team to any competitions in the coming months?
Jake Whitfield: The schools are great. We aren't the biggest team but we have a lot of quality. I know we will be going up to Andrew Smith's submission only tournament in Richmond on December 5 and to Grapplemania in Henderson December 12. After the New Year we should have several fighters fighting too.