On Friday, November 9, Josh Streacker will make his seventh professional walk to the cage at HFC 37 against Scott Futrell.
The surging knockout artist, who has been spending his camp at Jackson Wink MMA, spoke to The Body Lock about his upcoming fight, training at Jackson Wink, his thoughts on Donald Cerrone vs. Mike Perry, and much more.
A Look at Josh Streacker’s MMA Roots
While some martial artists find the sport late in life, that isn’t the case for Josh Streacker.
“I started Taekwondo at the age of seven years old,” Streacker told The Body Lock.
To Streacker, Taekwondo was more than just a sport or hobby. “It was fun, it was exciting, and it was something to keep my discipline; to keep me away from bad stuff.”
But as time went on, Streacker began to outgrow the sport he had come to love. By 18, his sparring partners were simply no match for him. “I kept hitting kids down and bullying them around, almost, while I was sparring them, and that’s not how Tae Kwon Do goes. So, I decided to do something a little bit more almost realistic. I decided to do some jiu-jitsu and then MMA shortly thereafter, and I had my first [amateur MMA] fight when I was 19.”
Despite his willingness to enter the world of MMA, Streacker never imagined he’d still be a part of it today.
“It was funny because I go through and I say, ‘hey, I’m just going to do a couple of fights. I’m going to do one, maybe two fights, and then we’ll get out of here and say we did it.’ I do that fight, and then I get hooked. I knocked him out in the first round.”
“Then I was like, ‘alright, cool. I just want one belt, one belt in the amateur world, then I’ll be done.’ I go through and win that belt – end up defending it five times – and then I get two more belts thereafter, and I’m just like, ‘alright, cool. I just want three belts.'”
“Then somebody tells me, ‘hey, you should try pro.'”
“I go through, and I lost my pro debut. That was a huge setback, but I’ve reeled off five straight [wins], and I feel very, very comfortable now. It’s really something I love to do and something I’m super passionate about. Everyone who has seen me fight can say the same thing, for sure.”
An introspective on his debut loss
Streacker’s professional career got off to a bumpy start, as he dropped a split decision to Aaron Highbaugh at Midwest Fight Series 15. That loss is the lone one of Streacker’s pro career, and it’s one Streacker has thought about often since.
“I took it on short notice, and I felt fantastic. I don’t have to cut much weight when I went to 170, so I was basically at fighting weight,” remembers Streacker.
As far as the fight itself, Streacker thinks it’s clear that he won.
“It’s pretty straightforward in my eyes. I hurt him a lot; I had his back at one point in time, I almost finished him via rear naked choke and almost finished him via arm triangle. I rocked him I think two times or three times in the fight. At the end of the second and at the end of the third round, I took him down. I don’t know what in the world those judges were thinking, but it was his hometown,” Streacker says.
However, Streacker believes there had to have been something more for him to have done. Still, he accepts the decision and gives credit to Highbaugh where it’s due.
“If you go back and re-evaluate yourself, you wish you pushed it a little bit more. You always think you can do more. You never leave it in the hands of the judges. I don’t know, it’s still a rough spot. But you know, hat’s off to Aaron Highbaugh. He’s a great opponent.”
A mixture of confidence, power, and strategy
That debut loss left a bitter taste in Streacker’s mouth. So, moving forward, he tried to take his record out of the hands of the judges. The main way of doing that?
“There’s no secret: striking is my forefront. It’s what I’m best at. I know how to put my hand on your jaw, and I know how to put you to sleep. I have like ten knockouts or nine knockouts with 17 fights or so, so you don’t want to stand with me.”
Streacker credits his Taekwondo training for his proclivity to finish the fight on the feet. One of the unique aspects of Streacker’s game is his tendency to fight with his hands down, a style he says is in part due to his Taekwondo and in part due to his inner confidence.
“From Taekwondo, I have really good footwork, so I’m able to get out of the way of things very easily, very safely, and then mix in my hands. Also, when your hands are down low, they come out from weird angles. So a lot of times you catch the person sleeping or not expecting it. I’m also a very confident individual. I think that you need to have that when you walk into the cage.”
Despite the fact that he finishes fights more often than not, Streacker believes he shouldn’t try and force the knockout, but rather let it happen naturally.
“The thing is, when I’ve gone out there and I thought I needed to knock them out, I ended up not knocking them out. I ended up swinging for the fences. When you just let things come to you, you find opportunities and it’s really, really cool to see it happen. I end up letting it come to me more and then that jaw’s just wide open. I put my fist on his face, and he ends up getting hurt from it.”
A Bellator homecoming in the Windy City
When Bellator MMA came to Chicago, Illinois, they made sure to give Josh Streacker a call.
“If you’re within the community and known as a respectable fighter, they definitely want you on the card. That was a Chicago Bellator fight, so they really wanted me on the card. It was a one-fight contract, but it was really cool. It was a good time, a great experience, and a great, great thing to draw from.”
As for just how great that experience was, Streacker shares some details, but says that he was sure to remain grounded, as well.
“When you get through and you get to experience that high level, you almost don’t want to ever leave it. I mean, it’s so cool. It’s so interesting. Walking by Rampage Jackson, seeing Royce Gracie, there’s a list of things that were just wild moments. But, you go out there and you realize it’s just like every other thing that you’ve been through before. Understand that you’ve been there before, even though maybe you haven’t.”
Ultimately, Streacker says, it was just another fight.
“Don’t overthink it. Guess what? You’re in a cage, you’re against somebody else, and you’ve got to go in and do the best you possibly can.”
Still, Streacker recognizes how momentous fighting in promotions like the UFC and Bellator is.
“I can’t wait to get back.”
An immersion into the world of Jackson Wink MMA
In his quest to make it back to the biggest stages in the world, Streacker has been spending more and more time at Jackson Wink MMA, one of the world’s premier MMA gyms.
The training, Streacker says, has been career-altering.
“My coach works very closely with Greg Jackson. He’s a brown belt in his system, so we got to go down there, and it was the best experience of my life. It was just one week, but it’s really cool when you go down there and you see that you are at that [world-class] level or are very, very close to it.”
For his upcoming fight, Streacker returned to Jackson Wink.
“I went for three weeks in preparation for this fight, and then I just went back for a week recently to sharpen up and focus up on my technique. It’s just another level. You look to your left and see Jon Jones, you look to your right, you see Carlos Condit, Holly Holm, the list goes on. It’s really cool to be down there, but it’s even cooler to see that you are at that level.”
Technically, Streaker says Jackson Wink has made him an exponentially better fighter.
“When I went down there and my hands were down at Jackson Wink, I got tagged way too much. You go down there, you’re training with really, really tough competition, and you learn what works and what doesn’t work. The “hands down” kind of thing works to a certain extent, but I’ll tell you what, what we keep is the footwork, the angles, and stuff like that. It’s going to be fun to find a new angle on [Scott Futrell].”
In addition to the physical training there, Streacker sings the praises of the mental benefits of Jackson Wink.
“It’s a big, huge confidence booster for me, and it’s top of the line training. I’ve always been more of a mental kind of fighter, so I would go through and I would evaluate each situation and find where I can finish you. I’ve got so many more tools in my bag because of going down there for that month. I’m excited. This is too long in the making. We’re going for blood.”
A look at the recent Jackson Wink drama
Recently, UFC welterweight star, Donald Cerrone, spoke out against Jackson Wink on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He alleged that the gym was being driven by money, had lowered their standards, and was acting disloyally.
Streacker doesn’t see it that way.
“Donald Cerrone has this opinion of Jackson Wink I think isn’t the correct opinion to have. That’s just me standing behind my coaches and my team. I feel very confident in the training that I’ve gotten down there.
“I haven’t faced any bums, I’ll tell you that much. Nobody walks off the street and tries to spar with me,” Streacker said with a laugh, a humorous rebuke of Cerrone, who had said, “bums come in off the street — I swear to God — and will come in and put stuff on and fight.”
With a scheduled bout between Cerrone and controversial welterweight slugger, Mike Perry, on the horizon, tensions within the gym were set to rise even further.
“Obviously, you’ve got Perry in one corner, and then you’ve got Donald in the other. Some of the coaches are in Donald’s corner, some of the coaches are in Perry’s corner. That’s kind of where it stands.”
As for who Streacker thinks will take the fight, he broke down the way in which he thinks it goes down.
“I hate to go against Cerrone because he’s a legend in my opinion, but I think that his body takes damage, and I know that Perry is going to push the pressure and he’s going to go through and swing for the fences. I think [Perry]’s going to connect on a body shot and that’s going to put [Cerrone] down. Perry hits hard,” Streacker says. And he should know: he’s been sparring with Perry throughout his camp.
But ultimately, despite Cerrone’s comments and the fight between him and Perry, Streacker thinks the storm has blown over.
“I heard that Jackson talked to Donald and was like, ‘hey man, W.T.F.?’ I’m almost positive there’s no more bad blood. There is no more ”F’ this.’
A preview of Josh Streacker’s next fight
Josh Streacker will put his five-fight winning streak on the line against Scott Futrell in the co-main event of HFC 37 this Friday, November 9.
HFC, or Hoosier Fight Club, is a regional promotion located in the midwest that has featured the likes of UFC contenders Neil Magny and Felice Herrig.
Streacker speaks highly of HFC and its treatment of him.
“HFC’s a fantastic promotion. [HFC founders and married couple] Paul and Danielle [Vale] put on a great show. It’s a smaller promotion, but they rival Bellator. I feel very respected, you know, this is my third or fourth time fighting for them, and it’s just a great promotion. So, it’s an honor being their co-main event.”
Regarding Scott Futrell, Streacker acknowledges the risks he poses but believes it’s only a matter of time before he secures the victory.
“Scott poses a lot of threats. He’s six-four, super tall, and super lanky. He’s going to come in gigantic. But you know what, it really doesn’t matter how tall you are. As soon as I find that angle and as soon as I put my fist on your jaw, it’s going to be lights out. I’ve fought plenty of people that are very tall, and I’ve put them to sleep. I hurt them, and I damage them. I’m going to find that angle. I’m going to catch him.”
A hope for the future and a case for greatness
Should Streacker get the win this Friday, he’ll have won six straight fights. Already, he has a win under the Bellator MMA banner, four knockouts, and a Performance of the Night finish on UFC Fight Pass (via Victory FC).
That’s a pretty well-rounded resume for any prospect, especially one who trains at Jackson Wink. For Streacker, he’s keeping his options open, waiting for a call, but one promotion stands out from the pack.
“We’re open to all kinds of possibilities, but the end game is the UFC. I want to be on the biggest stage possible.”
Streacker believes he’s built for the UFC, given his exciting style and charismatic personality.
“That’s why I was born. I love entertaining the fans. I love the positive energy; I love impacting as many people as I possibly can. It’ll be a fun time for everybody [if I get signed]. I like being in front of the camera, man. Even if you watch VFC – the last fight against J.P. St Louis – after I finished him, I found that camera right away.”
Josh Streacker has a message for the UFC:
“I’m an entertaining fight for anybody, so, seriously, put me in front of as many people as possible. I’ll be well worth your time.”
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.