New Jersey’s MMA savant: Jeff Lentz

Friday, September 17, 2010

At times, 21-year-old Jeff Lentz’s (5-1) life sounds like a Marine credo: first to go and last to know.

Maybe it’s because he’s made a lot of big decisions on a whim – like hopping in a friend’s truck to try out for “The Ultimate Fighter 12.”

Somehow, Lentz’s MMA career has fallen into place. He’s on the show, and it’s in no small part because he’s always been good at digging in and figuring things out along the way.

Take, for instance, his first MMA fight, which came in September 2007.

He had been studying at a Kenpo karate school next to his father’s coffee shop and had enrolled in several point sparring tournaments as a way to stay out of trouble. One day, his instructors said they were going to check out an “amateur cage fighting thing” and told him what it entailed. Intrigued, he went to the promotion’s website and signed up to fight.

Lentz had no training in MMA, but somehow, he ended the fight with a triangle choke he once saw on TV.

“I don’t know how it happened, man,” he told ( “It just happened.”

He says he ended his next fight with a flying triangle that segued into an armbar.

Lentz, a New Jersey native, could be the world’s greatest storyteller. Or, he could be an MMA savant. But he insists he took to the sport like a fish in water, and that’s going to translate when he fights in the reality show tournament, even though his young age puts him several years from his athletic prime.

“A lot of these guys have a lot of experience; some of them are older,” he said. “I’ve learned through experience that experience is everything. But their experience isn’t going to match the intensity that I’m going to bring and the hunger that I have to win this show.”

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