DJ Jackson is one of the best-known middleweight grapplers in the game. The rock-solid Team Lloyd Irvin black belt is notorious for his his relentless style and near-unsweepable base.
On the mat, he’s a two-time IBJJF no-gi world champion at black belt and the only American to ever win a Copa Podio Grand Prix.
But Jackson has been steadily accruing victories in the cage too, and his plans for a mixed martial arts career are just as lofty as his grappling ambitions.
DJ Jackson vs. Gilbert “Durinho” Burns. Watch the full match below. Photo: Mike Calimbas
Jackson turned professional in September 2015 after winning three bouts as an amateur. He’s now 4-0 as a pro with two wins by submission, most recently fighting at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 61 in October 2016, a feeder show for the UFC. Jackson has twice trained for title fights in the organization, only for opponents to pull out and leave him without a fight.
His grappling resume features a solid list of MMA fighters: Dong Hyun Kim (aka “Stun Gun”), Vagner Rocha, and James Brasco are just a few of the crossover athletes that Jackson has beaten.
Jackson has his sights set on elevating his pro career to the highest levels, and he hopes the momentum of his high-profile grappling superfight wins puts him on the radar of the big shows.
“I know I’m close to the UFC — my skill set is already UFC ready,” Jackson said. “I started BJJ wanting to fight MMA. I fell in love with BJJ along the way. I still plan on fighting in the UFC, but I will never stop competing in BJJ.”
Grappling fans know what Jackson’s game is like: strong takedowns and heavy top pressure. Basically, he makes his opponents miserable. Of course, he carries this over into MMA.
“I work my striking a lot basically as a ‘break in case of emergencies safety device,’ but I don’t plan on using it,” he said.
Whether it’s Bellator, ONE FC, or the UFC, Jackson just wants to show his skills at the highest level. That doesn’t mean we’ll lose him completely though — grappling is too much in his blood for him to leave it behind.
“I will always do BJJ, it’s too fun. And when I’m in fight camps I still train, usually in the gi. I only train no-gi exclusively for ADCC camps, every other camp most sessions are gi until about two weeks out.”
Watch DJ Jackson in action
DJ Jackson vs. Vagner Rocha Grappling Pro Championship
DJ Jackson vs. Dong Hyun Kim Spyder Invitational Championship
DJ Jackson vs. James Brasco Fight To Win Pro
DJ Jackson vs. Gilbert Burns Fight To Win Pro