Nobody likes to be hit. Even the ones who get paid to take those blows don’t always love it, but at least they are fighting someone their own size. Not everyone is so lucky.
When Juan Adams was a kid, he found out he loved combat sports. It’s no surprise that he landed in the MMA arena.
“I wrestled in college and then, when I graduated, I started training at Paradigm Training Center, because they have a good wrestling program,” Adams told Combat Press. “I was working with some of the fighters when I was in college who are on their team now — you know, grappling and just different positions from wrestling. Once I graduated, I got into a couple things, but I decided to try fighting out. I took some amateur fights, and, next thing I knew, the fights kept coming. Before I knew it, I had a manager and then I was pro.”
Adams went to the Virginia Military Institute, where he graduated with a degree in computer science and a minor in exercise science. While computer science is a hot field right now, he realized it just wasn’t his cup of tea. Instead, Adams committed to the life of a fighter. He went 4-0, all by knockout, in just nine months as a pro. His first three fights took place under the Legacy Fighting Alliance banner, and the fourth bout was part of a Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series card. This sounds a lot better than punching code all day.
“I knew about halfway through college that I didn’t want to do anything with that degree, but I was already in it,” Adams admitted. “I just stuck with it to use it as a fall-back plan, but everything I learned is pretty much obsolete now. I don’t really keep up with it all that much.”
Adams practices his own brand of science in the cage, and he’s damn good at it. Through his first five pro fights, including his UFC debut, he stopped all of his opponents with his striking. Four of these stoppages came in the first round. This brought him to his most recent fight, which took place at UFC on ESPN+ 9 in May when he went up against Canada’s Arjan Bhullar in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was Adams’ first fight to go the distance. He lost by unanimous decision.
“It was one of those fights I thought I won,” Adams said. “The game plan was to keep it on the feet, but I got taken down a couple times. You know, it happens. It’s part of the job. We thought we won it. I outstruck the guy, and if I would have stopped one of those takedowns, I probably would’ve got a split-decision win. It is what it is. We knew going into his hometown and his country, we would have to win big and convincingly. We didn’t do that. There was a lot of stuff going on backstage. They kept making me cut my nails shorter and shorter. I had three different toenails bleeding by the time we got to the ring. I’m fully recovered, and the fight goes on.”
The fight will go on, as Juan Adams steps into the Octagon again at UFC on ESPN 4. He takes on the controversial Greg Hardy in San Antonio on Saturday night. Hardy is a former NFL defensive end who was released from the league after he was arrested on domestic-violence charges. While the case was expunged, the NFL said it had credible evidence of assault by Hardy on his ex-girlfriend. The following year, he was arrested for drug possession. Needless to say, when it was announced that he was joining the Contender Series for his pro MMA debut in 2018, many people were not happy, including Adams.
“Growing up, my mom was a victim of domestic abuse and domestic violence,” Adams explained. “I just think that anyone that does that type of thing is a low-tier human being. On top of all that, he’s been arrested on cocaine charges and stuff like that. He clearly isn’t a guy who makes the best decisions. He’s not a good person.
“This just adds to my fire to fight him. The more I look into his past, the worse I feel about him. I think he’s just a horrible human being, and I don’t like him as a person. If this fight wasn’t signed and I saw him out on the street, I’d probably have to say something to him.”
Adams first found out about the possibility of a Hardy fight about a month after his last outing. He was already back in camp, and the possibility of that bout continued to linger. Eventually, he got it. For Adams, it’s not just about what Hardy has done. It’s also about the fact that the former NFLer is even in the UFC.
“I don’t think he’s very good, obviously,” said Adams. “I feel like he’s been fed very weak competition. I don’t think that he’s on my level, period. You look at all of his pro opponents — they got consistently worse until he got to the UFC. Even in the UFC, they’ve had very low win percentages and very little experience. I feel like I’ve fought better competition than he has, and he’s never fought anyone on my level. I think his management and the UFC have kind of been protecting him.”
It’s hard to argue with this assessment. Hardy’s first two pro opponents combined for a 7-0 record. His third opponent was only 1-1, and his last two combined for an 18-5 record. His loss to Allen Crowder was actually a disqualification. Most guys are not getting to fight in the UFC after beating three inexperienced guys. Adams, who’s been in combat sports for a lot of his life, doesn’t think it makes sense, and he’s prepared to capitalize on this opportunity.
“I’m going to finish him,” said Adams. “There are different levels to this game. There are different levels of athletes and different classes of fighters. He’s never fought anyone on my level, and he doesn’t deserve to be in the UFC. So, I’m going to prove that, and I’m going to back up everything I’ve been saying.”
Adams has more fire going into this fight than arguably any other bout in his career. He obviously dislikes Hardy and everything about him. Hardy hasn’t always picked on people his own size, but now he’s in his fellow heavyweight’s crosshairs. Adams is ready to do some serious damage in a fight that will air live on ESPN.
“I’m an exciting person to watch,” added the heavyweight. “I’m very driven, and, personally, I’m very goal-oriented. My goal is to have a long career in the UFC. People should tune in and watch me, because, in all of my fights, I’m always moving forward. I don’t stop, and I keep a pace better than most heavyweights do. My output is up there with most middleweights and welterweights.”
Hardy might have just found someone he can’t bully around.