MCGRATH: The inspiration that is Jared Gordon

David McGrath MMATorch Contributor

Jun 29, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Jared Gordon (red gloves) fights Dan Moret (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

I got the opportunity to talk to Jared Gordon in December, for about 30 minutes for a story I was working on. I knew Jared’s story; but I was not sure that everybody else did. I was not looking for quotes and soundbites for my site. Instead,  I was looking for a little bit of motivation, and inspiration. Gordon had it in spades.

Last Saturday night, at UFC on ESPN 3 in Minnesota, Gordon got a win over Jared Monet. He took his time in the octagon with the mic in front of a national TV audience to talk about his mission. That inspired me to revisit Gordon’s incredible story.

Imagine being so down in life that you intravenously inject both cocaine and heroin. Imagine taking a needle, and actually placing it into your own arm. As someone who has many tattoos and is still horrified of needles, I could not imagine willingly and knowingly doing that.

Gordon grew up in Queens, New York and started Wrestling and training BJJ at a young age, eventually having his first amateur fight at just age 17.

By his own admission, Gordon dabbled in drugs as a kid,  smoking marijuana in high school, as most kids do.

It is a very common story, one that I have lived myself. You get injured, you get prescribed prescription and next thing you know the bottle is empty. You, the former normal person, with an everyday job and a family, all of a sudden you’re a prisoner. You are a prisoner to the feeling and the bottle, you catch the bug, the worms have entered your brain.

By age 21 Gordon had already fell down that rabbit-hole and was a full blown addict.

At one point, Gordon, like most addicts chasing the high had turned to crime. He got himself into so much trouble, he was facing a prison sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment.

He panhandled in the streets of New York City. Yes, the guy you saw last Saturday night on the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” was once a panhandler in New York City. Imagine what you could do?

Gordon shot heroin and cocaine just a year and a half before Dana White, the UFC boss found him on his “Looking for a fight” series. Gordon told me he was incredibly nervous before that fight. Interesting to not that Gordon had already been a lightweight champion and Mexico, and a featherweight champion in A massive, well-respected New York promotion before being signed to the UFC

Gordon also had been in a psychiatric ward and to rehabilitation for his drug addiction before then too.

Gordon has been to rehab a total of ten times.

When you look at Gordon fight like we did last night, it is hard to imagine that you are looking at a dead man. That’s right. Gordon was legally dead in 2015. He overdosed on drugs for the 3rd time in his life.

There was about 2 whole minutes there, during that overdose that Gordon had flatlined. He had no vital signs, and was for all intents and purposes, medically. Dead.

How does one rise from the dead?

Great question. Gordon checked into rehabilitation after getting revived and saved. He got the support of a woman he has known for a long time. Christina Gambino, of American Ninja Warrior fame. Who herself, grew up in her fathers martial arts studios.

Gordon got clean. He won his battle.

Gordon lost two in a row and understandably was devastated by his loss to Joaquin Silva in his last outing before Saturday night. Most people did not know, that that was the last fight on Gordon’s initial contract with the UFC.

Coming off a loss and your contract being up is not the most ideal position. Hell, in today’s UFC you could get cut for simply having a boring fight style.

Clearly, UFC brass see something in Gordon. His contract was re-upped and his win last night gets some positive vibes going his way. Great judgement on their part. Jared Gordon is a ready made ambassador and feel good story that the UFC desperately needs.

Gordon’s story, in my humble opinion is the best one in MMA today. This man rose from the dead. THE DEAD. He takes the mic after his fights and in the post fight presser to talk about his own struggles. Do you thing there’s someone out there watching who is struggling? Of course.

That’s a role model. Hell, that’s an athlete.

We are over saturated with bad stories. From BJ Penn, to Matt Hughes, to the current puke- fest that is Greg Hardy.

As I have written before, I have no idea if Gordon will ever win a championship. The lightweight division is tough.

Gordon is also pretty tough. Also, I do not have any eloquent breakdown of his fight style, he just kinda goes in there and smashes, and guts it out.

What better metaphor for this mans life.

Every one of his fights are a microcosm of what he has been doing for his entire adult life.

He takes the punches, he throws some back, and he for the most part, comes out on top. I could not think of a better legacy, or story.


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