UFC lightweight Jalin Turner made his debut in the promotion's official 155-pound rankings following a sensational performance at this past weekend's UFC 276 event, but "The Tarantula" can now reveal just how close his bout with Brad Riddell was to being canceled.
"Honestly, not a lot of people know this, but I couldn't even move my arm before the fight," Turner told MMA Underground. "I messed up my arm pretty bad. It was crazy. I had hyperextended it doing some grappling, so I was, like, this close to being like, 'I don't know if I can make it to the fight,' but we made it, so, you know, it worked out."
That might be a bit of understatement on Turner's part. "The Tarantula" needed just 45 seconds to wobble and then submit Riddell in the featured prelim of this past Saturday's event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Turner's gamble to stay in the fight certainly paid off, scoring his fifth straight UFC win, not to mention a $50,000 "Performance of the Night" bonus, as well.
"The doctor was like, 'I don't know,'" Turner said. "He tried to send me to a specialist. I was in a mental rollercoaster with that, dude. I was talking to a couple of sponsors, but then I was just like, nah, I'd feel like a bitch if I pulled out. It was an injury, for sure, but it wasn't something like – I'd just feel like a b-tch if I pulled out because of that, you know? Like on the biggest card, biggest fight of my life, I would look back at my career and be like, 'Dang, I pulled out because of that,' but at the same time, it's kind of like, man, if I didn't excel and I didn't perform properly, I'd be upset with myself.
"People don't realize it's such a mental battle going in there and figuring these things out, but luckily I just kept on with treatment and it got it able enough for me to be able to grapple and strike with, and I was just thankful for that. Like, all fight week it just kept locking up on me. I was like, 'F-ck,' so it was intense. It was intense, man, but we got it done."
In addition to the physical challenges he was facing, Turner (13-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) said there were also further challenges that tested him mentally, as well, including a falling out with a longtime coach.
But given the hurdles, Turner said the circumstances behind his victory made the result even more special, and now that he sits at No. 14 in the UFC's lightweight division, he knows there are nothing but tough matchups ahead. But after pulling off such a sensational result on a night that it seemed the deck may have been stacked against him, the 27-year-old Californian knows he's ready for whatever comes next.
"Mentally, going through everything I went through, I was like, 'Damn, man, I went through a lot,'" Turner said. "Having what happened with my coach, and then other personal stuff going on, and then I had another injury before that. I popped my rib. I was like, 'Dude, what's going on,' you know? So it just really showed me that my mindset is on another level. I'm really ready to excel and achieve and reach new levels.
"The universe put it in my face, like, 'Hey, you're ready for this, and you can handle whatever is getting thrown at you right now.' So, man, I'm just taking it all in. I love it.'"
Check out the full interview in the video above.
This story first published at SI.com/MMA.