In the past year, "The Wild Card" Jarrod Card has become a real player in the featherweight division. It should be no surprise to anyone. He has tested himself from the very beginning, facing American Top Team prospect Chris Manuel in his first match. Manuel (6-1-2) is considered by many to be one of the better prospects in talent-rich Florida. Manuel and Card battled to a draw that night. From that moment on, Jarrod began to quickly accumulate wins fighting regionally in Georgia and Florida, earning respect because of his willingness to fight anyone, no matter their record. He really raised some eyebrows in March of 2008 when he fought well known featherweight veteran Jeff Bedard. It was a homecoming fight of sorts, held in Camp Lejeune. Bedard really pushed Jarrod in that fight, taking him to the mat, battling for position with him and delivering some ground and pound. Card showed tremendous toughness and versatility, answering back the whole way and finally getting the win by TKO (corner stoppage) after the first round. This put Card in the elite company of being one of only two fighters to hand Bedard a loss, the other being reigning WEC World Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres. Jarrod has displayed so much skill in his recent fights that he has gotten the attention of several different east coast promotional companies.
This past Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jarrod Card became a headliner. He faced Bruce Conners in the main event of the XFC event in Knoxville, Tennessee. The XFC is one of the fastest growing promotions in the Southeast, and has developed a reputation for developing young talent and delivering exciting events. His fight with Conners (6-0) was in front of approximately 4,500 fans, not to mention tens of thousands more live on HDNET. He was more than up to the challenge as he outlasted Conners, winning a unanimous decision to capture the XFC Featherweight Championship. Since this fight was in the heart of SEC country, a college football analogy is probably called for: Jarrod Card's strength of schedule is insane. Already he has faced a litany of tough opponents, including multiple WEC veterans, and has won a substantial regional title to go along with his impressive 10-3-1 record. He continues to only target talented, dangerous fighters. As I found out when I spoke with him recently, he wouldn't have it any other way:
Rich Wyatt-Jarrod, tell us a little about your background, and how you got into MMA?
Jarrod Card-I began training shortly after starting my current job as a contractor for the Marine Corps. A co-worker of mine was a fellow MMA fan and we used to discuss the sport. It turned out that he was a blue belt under Matt Serra. I began training with him in 2005 and that got me started.
Rich Wyatt-Are you from North Carolina originally?
Jarrod Card-My father was in the military so I traveled around a lot at a young age. I was actually born in Kansas. I've lived here in Jacksonville since '94.
Rich Wyatt-What's your favorite aspect of MMA?
Jarrod Card-I'd have to say it is definitely the use of Jiu-Jitsu. I've been promoted recently to Purple Belt and I'd say it's my favorite aspect because there's nothing like controlling an opponent with just Jiu-Jitsu and seeing that they can't do anything about it.
Rich Wyatt-Where do you do most of your training and what does your typical workout consist of?
Jarrod Card-As far as location of training and sparring, I mix things up a lot. I train with a wide variety of folks in places like New Bern, "Evolution" in Wilmington, "Wright's" in Jacksonville, "Team Roc" in Fayetteville and many others. This allows me to get a lot of good instruction and sparring. As for my workouts, I run in the morning and work cardio, also some weights and bag work. Jiu-Jitsu is usually at night. I try to get at least a couple of good workouts in before 3:00 PM.
Rich Wyatt-You just won the XFC Featherweight Title on Saturday night. How are you feeling after such a tough fight?
Jarrod Card-My knee is somewhat swollen from some knees I delivered to his head in the fight. Also a little soreness in the hands. For the most part I came out of it unscathed.
Rich Wyatt-That is impressive given what a tough opponent Conners is.
Jarrod Card-I was actually supposed to fight him in Miami two months earlier, but ended up fighting someone else. I really wanted to go out there and make a statement in this fight.
Rich Wyatt-What was it like to main event a card in front of thousands of screaming fans, and tons more watching live on television?
Jarrod Card-It was great. The smaller guys don't always get the love that some of the fighters in other weight classes get. Fans love to see us fight, though, because of the non-stop action. Most folks even here in Jacksonville aren't aware of me because I fight in a lower weight class. I'm like a needle in a haystack. But fans are really being won over to the action in the featherweight division.
Rich Wyatt-When would you ideally like to be back in action?
Jarrod Card-We're trying to set something up for June, possibly with another promotion. I try to always stay busy.
Rich Wyatt-What are your thoughts on the North Carolina MMA scene?
Jarrod Card-I've noticed that we have a good grappling base here in the Carolinas. There are some good up and coming young fighters. The MMA scene is still green here, but you can tell it is set to take off. Florida, by comparison, is a hotbed already because the folks there have been doing MMA for so long. Since it got legalized last year here in North Carolina, more and more folks have started to participate. The more shows that occur here, the more fans it will create.
Rich Wyatt-Do you have aspirations to fight for the WEC?
Jarrod Card-If an opportunity presents itself with the WEC or Strikeforce, I'll gladly take it. I would want it to be the right opportunity, though. I don't want to put myself in position to be a one-hit-wonder.
Rich Wyatt-Who wins the Mike Brown-Urijah Faber fight?
Jarrod Card-Urijah is a great fighter, but I think Mike Brown will control him and is too powerful for him. I had fought on cards with Mike before, so I knew how talented that guy is. Before he became world champion I told some folks up here at Camp Lejeune that Mike was going to take that fight, and few believed me at the time.
Rich Wyatt-Any parting thoughts or anyone that you'd like to thank?
Jarrod Card-I'd like to thank my manager, Paul Andreas, for getting me the fights that I've needed to progress my career. We don't want easy fights and he's done a great job of securing matchups that have challenged me. It's helped me improve tremendously. I also want to thank the XFC for the opportunities that they've given me. They are great to work with.
*Editor's Note-MMA4Real would like to thank Jarrod for taking the time out to speak with us. We would like to wish him good luck in the future, and we hope to have him on again. Also, many thanks to special contributor Rich Wyatt.