Originally posted on 5th June 2019
It’s 6 am on a cold winters morning when the alarm clock goes off. Jai Herbert wearily turns off the alarm, gets out of bed, and heads out to start another day in his physically demanding job as a scaffolder. Jai has been a scaffolder for the past fourteen years, working all over Britain.
Come 5 pm, Jai is back at home managing a quick cup of coffee before heading out again, this time heading off to the gym for a good 3 to 4-hour session. Not for a casual workout, but for a full-on training session in Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu or a cardio session – (depending on what day it is). You see, Jai Herbert is also an elite professional athlete in mixed martial arts while working a full-time job.
The 31-year-old who lives in Wolverhampton has only been competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) for the past seven years. Having won the amateur Combat Challenge British welterweight belt, and the BCMMA lightweight belt, Jai racked up an impressive record of 9-1 before deciding to go professional in March 2015. “At the amateur level, I fought all bar one of my fights at welterweight” Jai explains. “I never had to cut weight and didn’t see the point of putting my body through the strain at amateur level”.
Jai, who started training out of Wolfpack MMA in Wolverhampton and still does his strength and conditioning with John Ashley, has now made a move over to Renegade JiuJitsu in Birmingham under the tutelage of UFC athlete Tom Breese, to help improve the jiu-jitsu and wrestling aspect of his game. “It’s been a great move to Renegade Jiu-Jitsu. I get to roll and wrestle with Tom [Breese] a lot and with top athletes such as Leon Edwards (UFC) and Fabian Edwards (Bellator). They have brought my game on leaps and bounds” said Jai. “I also train at Firewalker Martial Arts where I do my striking such as Kickboxing and Boxing with Joeby Clayton.”
Currently on a four-fight winning streak, with his only loss coming in the way of a KO via Rhys McKee when he fought for the BAMMA lightweight title, Jai is no stranger to hard fights. His first fight since signing with European promotion Cage Warriors was against hard-hitting Erdi Karatas, where he won via Unanimous Decision, and it is the only fight of his career thus far to have gone the distance. His next opponent was Joe Mccolgan which Jai dispatched of in two minutes of the first round. Then, on March 2nd, 2019, Jai had the task of facing veteran MMA athlete Steve O’Keefe, who resume consists of Artem Lobov, Conor McGregor and Chris Goldfish to name a few who had gone on to compete in the UFC. Again, Jai dispatched of O’Keefe within 4 minutes of the first round.
It was at this point Jai knew he would be next in turn to compete for the vacant lightweight title. “I knew I was going to get the shot to be honest” recalls Jai “It was the day after I fought with Steve O’Keefe I got a text to say Graham wants you to fight Jack Grant for the title and I was like yeah, sweet, when?” said Jai. “I knew it was going to happen as Jack was next in line to compete for the title, so I knew it would be him and me.”
With the date set as June 29th, 2019 at Eventim Apollo, London, Cage Warriors will be hosting their 106th event billed as “Night of Champions”, where Jai will take on Jack for the vacant lightweight title. “Jack is a top fighter, he is outstanding on the ground, and he has good stand up too along with being powerful. However, I feel I am the best striker in the division. It is going to be a great fight; I’m going to get my hand raised, and it won’t be going five rounds.”
With Cage Warrior’s emphasis on fighter safety, all professional athletes must be SAFE medical checked, which includes costly MRI scans along with blood work. To help with these costs, Jai’s dad has helped with some of the medical expenses. However, Jai is still looking for additional sponsors to help him achieve the goal of being able to concentrate on being a full-time professional athlete, rather than only dedicating part of himself to his craft when he can train and wanting to reach his full potential. Jai would ideally like to give up work and train full time. If you feel you can help this young, gifted athlete out, please get in touch with him on either of the platforms mentioned below.
Jai would like to thank his current sponsor Animosity Fight Gear UK, all his training partners and his girlfriend Jaye Haynes, who helps him prepare for his fights.
You can reach Jai on the following social media platforms:
Facebook: Jai Herbert MMA