Exclusive | NASCAR Driver Jeffrey Earnhardt discusses tonight's MMA debut
Jeffrey Earnhardt is a 4th generation NASCAR driver, and grandson of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. He is also the nephew of this generation’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Currently Jeffrey is making a run for a championship in the Rolex Grand Am series in a sharp looking Ford Mustang for 2012. Tonight he temporarily sheds the racing spotlight and trades all of that in for something new.
Jeffrey makes his MMA debut tonight at Fight Lab 25 in Charlotte, NC on internet pay per view via www.jeimma.com at 8:30 PM. His last name will have a lot to do with the success of the card, and he also knows it means more people will be watching to see the outcome.
“Yeah. I feel like there’s a lot more pressure because of my last name, but being new to the sport it’s pretty normal”, Jeffrey stated. “It only gets to you if you let it and that’s what I’ve been trying not to do. I just block it out”.
To prepare for the fight Earnhardt sought out people he could trust and that would have a positive impact on his training. According to Jeffrey, he was lucky enough to find a team that did just that.
“It’s a place called Renegade Fighting Systems. They’re out of Charlotte. They’ve got some great guys there, quite a few pro guys. They’re guys with winning records and a lot of good amateur guys there, too. It’s a really good group to train with and I feel like going in to this fight I’m prepared for anything that happens”.
Racing is in his blood and while he may love the sport of mixed martial arts he made it clear what his long term goals were.
“Racing is my primary goal”, Jeffrey said. “I’m going to continue to rely on that and do all of the races I can this year. MMA was something that I was doing trying to stay fit. One thing led to another and I figured I would try out a fight. It’s definitely been a lot of fun, and I’m going to continue to use it as a way to stay physically fit. I may pop in here and there and do a fight or two in between races. The next race for me is at Daytona on July 6th in the Nationwide race down there. I’m really looking forward to racing again, but tonight my focus is MMA. But yeah, racing is my primary goal”.
Many fighters dream of ending up on a season of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite the allure of the opportunity Jeffrey stays grounded.
“If the opportunity to be on TUF came up I doubt it. Probably not. I’m dead set on racing and that’s the dream I want to keep chasing. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid, and something I want to keep doing for the rest of my life”.
When he broke the news to his family, that is pretty much racing royalty, the results were better than he expected.
“You know honestly they weren’t too surprised and they were actually really supportive of it”, Earnhardt said. “They get behind me in anything I do. My stepmom said she just couldn’t watch the fight though. My dad is coming out and watch the fight and they’re really excited for me. I’m really excited”.
A choice all MMA fighters eventually have to make is whether or not to turn professional. After so many amateur fights the lack of qualified opponents comes in to play, and fights are harder to get. Jeffrey does believe that is a possibility, however for now he will play it by ear.
“I don’t know about going pro”, stated Earnhardt. “It depends on how things go and how things progress. As of right now I think this is something I’m doing just to dabble in and stay busy when I am not racing”.
Jeffrey Earnhardt faces Chris Faison on tonight’s Fight Lab 25 internet pay per view card. To view the fights or for more information please visit www.jeimma.com. For more information about Jeffrey please visit www.jeffreyearnhardt.com.