LAS VEGAS – A few years ago, Krzysztof Jotko was mired in a three-fight skid. But he appears to be well past that slump these days.
Saturday, Jotko (24-5 MMA, 11-5 UFC) got a solid test from Gerald Meerschaert (35-15 MMA, 9-7 UFC) to open up the UFC on ESPN 35 main card in Las Vegas. But even though he wondered if the fight might be hanging in the balance heading into the third round, Jotko left with a sweep of the scorecards.
“I was prepared to knock him out – I tried very hard to knock him out,” Jotko said at his post-fight news conference. “But a fight is a fight. He’s a tough guy. We had a good fight, and I did everything to win the fight. After two rounds, I was thinking maybe it’s 50-50 – I was not sure I was winning. So the last round, I decided to take him down two times so I knew I’d win the fight.”
The win for Jotko was his second straight after a decision loss to the surging Sean Strickland a year ago to the day. That setback snapped a three-fight winning streak of decisions that came on the heels of his three straight losses, two of which were by knockout.
Jotko said his loss to Strickland came with a bit of an asterisk since he was sick during the final days of his camp. He said it was an accomplishment he made it to the fight with Strickland, whose win over Jotko was part of his current six-fight streak that has him in middleweight title contention.
When Strickland’s name was brought up, Jotko told MMA Junkie he’d love another crack at him – but he’s realistic about the chances for that to happen in the near term.
“Sean Strickland. Sean Strickland. I’ll tell you: I like him,” Jotko said. “I like him, but when I fought him, I was in very, very horrible condition. My stomach was very bad. I was throwing up, I couldn’t make weight. I had a horrible camp, but I still went to the fight. He still won a decision.
“I know now I don’t have a chance to fight him because he’s (ranked) No. 4 or No. 5, but in the future I hope we can fight. I have big respect for him, and I like his talking sh*t. Sometimes, he talks like he has a f*cking problem in his head, but I respect it. He’s funny. He’s cool.”
Perhaps more realistic as a next potential opponent is Derek Brunson, though. Brunson had a five-fight winning streak snapped by Jared Cannonier in February. The 38-year-old said he’s good for just one more fight before he hangs up his gloves.
Jotko said he’d be glad to be Brunson’s retirement fight, particularly since they were supposed to fight nearly seven years ago in Berlin.
“I’ll fight everyone – whoever the UFC puts (in front of me),” Jotko said. “But I want to be back in the rankings again and fight somebody with a ranking. (I want to fight again) as fast as I can. If the UFC called me today and told me fight next month, I’d change my vacation and fight next month. I’m good, I’m healthy, no injuries.
“If Brunson wants to fight for the last fight of his career, I respect him. We were supposed to fight … in Berlin, in Germany, but he was injured, so we never fought. If he wants to fight me, let’s go.”