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One-on-One With UFC/Boxing Legend Art JimmersonPosted on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:28 am
by IDMA Editor
As much as mixed martial arts has evolved over the last decade, one aspect of fighting is still lacking in the sport—accurate and effective striking.
While there are a handful of fighters with excellent stand-up skills, most notably Strikeforce heavyweight champion and K-1 (kick boxing) Grand Prix 2010 winner Alistair Overeem, a majority possess striking that wouldn't impress most boxers.
So when the Ultimate Fighting Championship was looking for a boxing coach for their gym in Rosemead, Calif., the UFC knew they needed just one man—“One Glove” to be exact.
Photo credit to Art Himmerson
Nearly two decades after a loss to Royce Gracie in his first and only MMA bout at UFC 1, boxing legend Art “One Glove” Jimmerson finds himself training the sport's stars of today and the future at the UFC Gym.
“I never thought I'd be back with the UFC after so long,” Jimmerson says. “It makes me feel appreciative to be able to pass on my knowledge to the best athletes in the world.”
The St. Louis, Missouri native was a great athlete in his own right, becoming National Golden Gloves middleweight champion in 1983 and finishing his professional boxing career in 2002 with an overall record of 33-18.
Photo credit tapology.com
While Jimmerson was considered a top 10 boxer in his prime, he is best known for his lone MMA bout, where he employed the rather unique strategy of wearing one boxing glove when fighting UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie.
“I was a top 10 boxer back in Nov. 1993 and I wanted to have one hand gloved so I could jab without risking injury for future fights,” Jimmerson says in reference to his UFC 1 fight.
“I was Royce Gracie's first opponent. I didn't even know who Royce Gracie was! I figured it was an easy fight because of his size, so I'd jab and just knock him out. I learned the hard way I was very wrong.”
In the precursor to the UFC 118 main event between boxer James “Lights Out” Toney and UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture last summer, Gracie versus Jimmerson showed fans that you don't have to possess great boxing skills to dominate a fight.
In just two minutes and 18 seconds, Gracie forced Jimmerson to tap out, though no one can blame him for wanting to get the hell out of the cage.
When Jimmerson was taken down to the ground, he felt clueless and realized that it was best that he did not risk injury and tapped out, even at the risk of heavy criticism.
Then again, it's not like Jimmerson was the only victim to Gracie, who went on to win the UFC 1, 2, and 4 tournaments.
At the time, the UFC was in its infancy and was more about which fighter had the best style as opposed to today's incarnation, which consists of well-rounded athletes that truly define mixed martial arts.Toney apparently didn't get the memo and lost to Couture by first round arm triangle choke submission.
“James Toney is a great boxer, but he should have been more aware of what fighters can do on the ground these days,” Jimmerson contends. “When I fought Royce, no one even heard of Jiu-Jitsu! Today, everybody in the game is mastering it or trying to.”
Unlike Toney, Jimmerson has fully embraced all aspects of MMA, serving as the head instructor for UFC Gym's “Boxercise”—a combination of striking techniques, cardio, and self defense tips.
Jimmerson's loss to Gracie doesn't serve as a low point in his career, just an important part of his development as an athlete and now as a trainer.
“I don't let that loss define me,” Jimmerson says. “Royce is a great guy, who actually texted me the other day. He helped the sport of MMA grow so much. What I did in boxing can never be taken away from me.”
Speaking of boxing, Jimmerson still loves the sport that made him famous. He does however, think that boxing needs to invest more in itself like the UFC.
"With the UFC, you have all these videos and specials that introduce fighters," Jimmerson states. "Boxing needs to do that. I'll always love boxing. It'll be around forever, but I think guys that aren't as established as Floyd Mayweather should be promoted better."
Even with his boxing career long over, 47-year-old hasn't lost much of a step, as seen in his “Boxercises.”
His genes have rubbed off on his sons Chris (20) and A.J. (24).
A.J. Is a former standout Michigan State University football running back, currently being looked at by NFL scouts, while Chris has been tearing it up in track & field at Butler Community College.
“My sons are both great athletes,” he says. “Most importantly, them and my whole family are just great human beings that keep me grounded.”
For Jimmerson, his family and faith come first. Everything else is just a bonus for him, especially to be involved with the UFC.
“God is great,” Jimmerson says. “ I'm just happy to have great people in my life. I'm thankful to be involved with the UFC and be a small part of helping fighters evolve as this sport grows.”