Shawn Jordan’s football career ended with confetti raining down on him and his former LSU teammates in the Superdome as they were crowned the national champions for the 2007 season.
The former LSU fullback hopes his next experience in New Orleans will be the catalyst that pushes him toward his next championship.
Jordan will be facing New Orleans native Derrick Lewis in one of the 12 bouts slated for Saturday’s “UFC Fight Night,” which will be held at the Smoothie King Center.
More than anything else, Jordan said it feels good just to be back in Louisiana.
“It’s nice to be able to come home and feel at home,” Jordan said. “With all my friends and family here that have supported me for so long, it’s good that they are able to come out and see me.”
With many of the fighters participating in Saturday’s event having some kind of tie to Louisiana, it appears the UFC is making a concerted effort to use this event to increase the sport’s popularity in the state by featuring familiar faces as a means to attract fans.
While Jordan said he believes the sport is continuing to grow throughout the nation — not just in Louisiana — the former LSU fullback said his struggle to make it into the UFC reminded him of how much work it took for him to make it as a football player.
“They really do have a good scene for MMA here,” said Jordan, who also mentioned he expects former teammates T-Bob Hebert and Jacob Hester to be in attendance for Saturday’s fight.
“There’s a lot of guys that come out of here, but it’s kind of like the SEC. All those guys just cannibalize each other, so it’s kind of hard to get out of here.”
In Lewis, Jordan will be facing a familiar opponent in more ways than one.
While sharing Louisiana backgrounds, Jordan and Lewis also squared off in 2010, with Jordan taking a unanimous decision.
While admitting his win over Lewis gives him some confidence heading into Saturday, Jordan said that he thinks the 2010 bout will have little effect on what happens Saturday.
“Derrick is a big strong guy, and I respect him as a fighter,” Jordan said. “The way the rankings work, this is just kind of the way it played out. He asked for it, and I don’t say no to fights, so it was a done deal from there.
“It was five years ago, I think we’ve both grown a lot since then. … I don’t think that win is going to have any impact on this fight.”
With Jordan and Lewis ranked 18th and 25th, in the UFC heavyweight rankings heading into Saturday, Jordan also puts extra precedence on his bout because he views it as an opportunity to catapult himself into the conversation with some of the best heavyweights in the sport.
He takes this opportunity very seriously, considering he feels as if he didn’t take advantage when he had it before.
“I think they put me in position to have big fights before, and I dropped the ball and lost those fights,” Jordan said. “I just have to climb my way back up.”
He also added being back in Louisiana raises the expectation for a win even more.
“Louisiana is a state that’s really supportive of it’s athletes win or lose,” Jordan said before catching himself. “They are ugly when you lose sometimes — especially football games — but afterwards they are like your best friends. “It’s nice to have all those people around, but once the cage closes, it’s all business. Time to go to work.”