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PFL’s Jordan Young leans on experience at American Top Team for his promotional debut in April

Photo: PFL

With the Professional Fighters League starting up its third season, there is one Light Heavyweight contender looking to make a statement and chase the $1 million championship purse.

Just three days after his 20th birthday, Jordan Young kickstarted his professional MMA career with a first round submission win over Jon Kennedy. Though still too young to legally drink, Young could choke out grown men in this new-found professional opportunity.

The early days of Young’s career were spent with Midwest Cage Championships out of Des Moines, Iowa. With his hometown of Urbandale being less than 10 miles from Des Moines, participating in the promotion’s events could not have been more convenient.

Less than three years after starting his journey as a professional fighter, Young signed with Bellator MMA. For years, Bellator has served as a jumpstarting promotion that raises young talent into stars. Young tallied six straight wins before being handed his first career loss in 2019.

“I had some good fights in Bellator,” Young said. “They helped me get verified. They helped put me on that stage. When I did take that loss, I had to have a major surgery on the back end. When it was time to renegotiate a new contract I just wasn’t too fond of what was brought to the table.”

Now, for the first time as a professional, Young will be fighting coming off of a loss. His chance to get back on the winning track will come with the PFL.

“It was my first loss, so it definitely took off a little bit of pressure off of my shoulders,” Young said. “I think that my mindset has improved, and I think that I am a little more mature in my career.”

PFL is a league that is set up to take the politics out of the fight game, according to Young. Because of the structure, Young can stay active and fight the best of the best.

“I like the tournament setup,” Young said. “I like that everything is earned and not given. There is no favoritism. I also like that for the first time in my career I will be able to collect a nice check and then 30 days later go compete again.”

Being the youngest Light Heavyweight in the organization is a factor that has come and gone in Young’s life. At just 26, Young feels like his experience is what will carry him to PFL gold.

“I am the youngest, but I don’t think I am considered a kid,” Young said. “I am looking at it as an opportunity to etch my name in some sort of history. You got to remember that three years ago I was 23 in Bellator...and I was undefeated. It doesn’t really mean anything to me at this point.”

American Top Team, an already well-renowned gym in its own right, is credited by Young for playing a huge role in his development and giving him the platform that led him to the PFL. ATT won Best Gym in the World from 2016-2019 during the MMA Awards. This gym’s reputation for turning out world-class talent and champions runs deep in the MMA community.

“It has been amazing,” Young said. “I have been there for a little over four years. I am in great hands. Growing up Dustin Poirier was one of my favorite fighters. I just took a picture with him…and he gave me one of his new hot sauces.”

Training with stars like Poirier and Jorge Masvidal is just another day at the office for ATT. Young believes that being surrounded by the best is a great way to cultivate his own talent.

At the end of April, Young will face off against Smealinho Rama, a competitor who has experience with the PFL format but has not fought since 2018. Rama went 1-2-1 in the PFL three years ago, and is looking to get his career back on track.

However, the promotional experience means nothing to Young and his approach.

“He used to fight at heavyweight, but a lot of the guys he knocked out are not at my level,” Young said. “Defensive footwork will be key. It has been a long time since he has fought. Three years is a long time. It is going to be about who can plan for [the bubble].”

Each fighter has to spend 17 days inside of the bubble with constant testing before being cleared to fight.

Young will make his PFL debut on April 29 on ESPN. After fighting three times, a tournament will start to see who can bring home the $1 million grand prize.

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