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Jackson gets chance of lifetime in Octagon

As a longtime MMA correspondent in Texas, Mike Jackson is usually the one asking the questions, so it was no surprise to hear him turn the tables on his own interview and ask another regarding his UFC debut on Feb. 6 in Las Vegas.

“Personally, do I think I’m ready to be in the UFC?” Jackson, who faces fellow Octagon newcomer Mickey Gall in a UFC 196 bout to be featured on UFC FIGHT PASS, asked.

And he responded.

Related: Gail "Hail Mary" sets up road to CM Punk fight | Watch Episode 1 of "Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight" | UFC 196 fight card | Buy tickets now

“I am a training partner with (UFC vets) Derrick Lewis, Daniel Pineda, Andrew Craig, and these guys, their overall MMA game is more complete than mine, and that’s just me being honest,” he said. “But I do feel I have some of the best striking. Even in the UFC, maybe I’m not in the top 10 or top 15, but for pure striking, I do believe that I possess those skill sets. I do feel other people belong in this position above me, but in this particular fight, I do feel that I belong and that I’m ready for this challenge.”

The making of this particular welterweight fight has been one of the most compelling stories on a busy MMA news week, and that’s not surprising.

“I do feel I have some of the best striking. Even in the UFC, maybe I’m not in the top 10 or top 15, but for pure striking, I do believe that I possess those skill sets. I do feel other people belong in this position above me, but in this particular fight, I do feel that I belong and that I’m ready for this challenge.” -- Mike Jacakson
First, Gall called out former WWE superstar and budding UFC welterweight CM Punk on the latest episode of the UFC series on YouTube “Dana White: Lookin’ For A Fight.” UFC president White was intrigued by the New Jersey prospect and eventually signed him for the February fight, telling him that with a win, he would get Punk later this year. All Gall needed was an opponent, and Mick Maynard, president of the Legacy FC promotion that has been the launching pad for a host of UFC talent, suggested Jackson, who may be making his pro MMA debut, but isn’t a novice to combat sports.

Then everything blew up.

“It’s been interesting,” he laughs when asked about the last couple days. “The crazy thing is, the people that I’ve spoken with (in interviews) are friends of mine or acquaintances of some sort. So just speaking to these guys is not necessarily a shock to me. I would say the only new thing is to have everything happening at once. All these people I’ve worked with or worked for are now looking at me as the subject, as opposed to being the person studying the subject.”

As for the timing of that phone call to ask him about fighting for the UFC, it was perfect for the 30-year-old from Houston, who, while never fighting pro in MMA, has a handful of amateur fights and has also competed professionally in boxing (2-0) and kickboxing (1-0). In fact, he believed that if there were any road for him to travel to the top, it would have been in boxing, not MMA.

“I stepped away (from MMA) for a little bit,” he said. “I had some injuries after my last amateur fight, and that’s when I jumped into boxing and kickboxing. I was coming back to MMA before I had an injury, but I was just doing so well in striking, I stayed there. For me at this point, I was focused on possibly being a world champion in boxing. That’s definitely a goal of mine, and I feel that I can reach it.”

But first, the recent University of Houston graduate has some MMA business to tend to, and he is well aware that with a win over Gall, he could change his life considerably. Then, plans for the sweet science and to attend UFC events as a reporter may have to give way for something completely different. That’s fine with “The Truth.”

“I love the spotlight, I love the attention,” he laughs. “I’m around these guys (UFC fighters), I train with them, so this isn’t really something that’s new. Do I feel that it’s going to be something extra? Yeah, but this is fun for me and I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can.”

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