Dustin Jacoby (19-7-1 MMA, 7-4-1 UFC) will look to make it two in a row when he fights fellow striker Alonzo Menifield (14-3-1 MMA, 7-3-1 UFC) at UFC 296 on Dec. 16.
“I think Alonzo Menifield is a dangerous opponent for sure,” Jacoby told MMASucka. “He’s explosive. He’s got a lot of power. I’ve got to be on my A-game when it comes to that. I can’t be standing straight in front of him. I need to be moving.”
Jacoby plans to implement his usual stick-and-move game plan, which he said he enjoys doing.
“If we’re going to be in it for the long haul, if I can avoid the big punches, the big power shots, I think my cardio is some of the best in the division, if not the best,” he said. “I think I’ve proven time and time again that I get stronger as the fight goes on, where I think Alonzo tends to fade a little bit, just being that big, muscular and explosive. I certainly plan on getting my hands raised. There’s zero doubt in my mind that I’ll be the victor whether if it’s, fortunately, catch him quick like I did Kennedy [Nzechukwu] or if I’m in it for the long haul. I’ll be standing there at that final bell. I certainly see myself getting my hands raised once again.”
Jacoby called out Menifield after his TKO over Darren Stewart in August 2021. Menifield, just a few weeks earlier, had beaten Ed Herman in a unanimous decision. While Jacoby said he forgot he had thrown Menifield’s name out there, he wanted to fight him at the time and remains intrigued by the match-up.
“I like the fact that he calls himself a striker,” Jacoby said. “He is a striker. That’s what he does. That’s his go-to when it comes to fighting. Of course, me being a striker and thinking that I’m the superior striker, I love the challenge. I love the match-up, and I think it’s gonna be a great test. And it’s gonna be a great fight for the fans on a stacked card. I had just seen him fight around that time and thought to myself, ‘I know I should beat that guy and that guy’s a striker, so let’s go toe-to-toe, and may the best man win.’”
In addition to his cardio, “The Hanyak” believes his other advantages over Menifield are his length, reach, movement, and his ability to string combinations together.
“Alonzo, he’s explosive, but he’s just a big power puncher. I think that my height, my reach, my movement, my skill level and my endurance will all be keys to victory for me.”
Jacoby said he is predicting a knockout win over Menifield, as that will always be his prediction against anyone.
“I’m certainly going to be looking for that punch. Not overly looking for it. But when the opportunity arises, when that window opens, I’m a pretty good striker. I’m a precise striker. When I see an opening, I take it. I think that it’s going to be a good night for ‘The Hanyak.’”
The not “overly looking for the knockout” part of the prediction has been the key to some of Jacoby’s best performances: his knockout wins over Da Un Jung and Nzchechukwu.
“I think those finishes came when I’m just kind of flowing and I’m in a good flow state,” he said. “I think when I go out there and try to force things, I don’t do as well. But when I go out there and just let the game come to me, that’s when I do my best. I feel like that’s what I did, especially in my knockout of Da Un Jung and my knockout of Kennedy Nzechukwu. I thought I was in a really good flow state, and I think that contributed to the big victory.”
UFC 296 is a stacked card, headlined by two title fights: Leon Edwards defending his welterweight title against Colby Covington and Alexandre Pantoja defending his flyweight belt against Brandon Royval.
Jacoby and Menifield find their light heavyweight showdown topping the early preliminary card as of Friday. Jacoby said there will be a lot of eyes on this card and hopes that, even on the early prelims, he gets more exposure than a fight night main card.
“Unfortunately, I am on the early prelims, which I’m kind of disgusted with, to be honest,” he said. “I thought Alonzo and I, two top-15 light heavyweights in the world, bigger guys, guys that can deliver that knockout for the fans are put down low. Again, the card is so stacked from top to bottom. It’s just an honor to be a part of it, to be asked to be a part of that card. At the same time, I think a main card on ESPN in an arena in Nashville, I thought that was pretty cool. Going out there in a featured fight before the co-main event, getting that big victory. I thought that did well for my career. A lot of that stuff’s just out of my control. I can only focus on the things that I can control. And that’s my preparation these last few days for Alonzo. I’m excited, man. It’s a great opportunity.”
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