EXCLUSIVE | DWTNCS headliner Alonzo Menifield explains how ‘Rampage’ Jackson inspired his MMA career

Tonight marks the beginning of the second season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, the UFC’s newest talent-scouting program. In the main event of this season two premiere, undefeated light heavyweight prospect Alonzo Menifield (6-0) will battle Dashawn Boatwright.

For Menifield, this battle on DWTNCS marks the latest step in an athletic journey that began with football, but took a sharp turn thanks to the influence of MMA legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Menifield explained how Jackson influenced his move to MMA on a recent episode BJPENN.COM Radio.

“I was in football,” Menifield said. “I was at A&M Commerce and I just started training in a gym called Chop Shop, and pretty much just trained football and MMA at Chop Shop. It all was inspired by — I called him ‘the guy’ but his name was ‘Rampage’ Jackson. [In PRIDE] he picked this dude up and he slammed him and I’m like, ‘Oh man I wanna do that.'”

“Low and behold, football fell through and I was like, ‘Alright. I’m the deciding factor of my future. I’ll do MMA’. And that’s when I went into MMA.”

If you recognize the name Alonzo Menifield, that’s probably because he’s competed on DWTNCS before. In his first appearance on the show, he beat Daniel Jolly — though unfortunately not in optimal fashion, as Jolly sustained an eye injury and couldn’t continue fighting.

“The last appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series, I wasn’t happy about it at all,” Menifield said. “Quite frankly, I didn’t even care about the bonus or the winning, I just wanted to have a glorious battle, especially when Daniel Jolly cracked me over the head with that overhand. But given that situation, you know, with all said and done, and the dust settled, it’s pretty cool that I got the W.”

Unsurprisingly, Menifield is determined to get the W again in this second DWTNCS appearance, and this time, earn a life-changing UFC contract.

“This is feeling, for me, like a real blessing, just based on all the fighters in the world [that] are out there,” he said. “For me to have this situation, [I’m going to] seize the moment and I’m very grateful. So I’m just feeling very blessed to be able to have this opportunity and showcase my talent.”

Should Menifield earn a UFC contract on this second DWTNCS stint, then the goal evolves. It’ll no longer be about being in the UFC light heavyweight division, but conquering it.

“Being the UFC top dog,” he said. “That’s pretty much what I want to do, and ultimately [I’m] aiming for championship belt.”

Do you think Alonzo Menifield will earn a UFC contract tonight?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/12/2018.