It’s another step closer for Jacobe Smith toward a professional fighting career.
The former Muskogee High state champion, two-time NJCAA national champion at Northeastern A&M and two-time Big 12 wrestling champion at Oklahoma State signed this week with Zinkin Sports Management, which specializes in mixed martial arts.
Some of Zinkin’s clients include Daniel Cormier, Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Luke Rockhold and Ben Askren. Cormier is a former OSU wrestler who will train with Smith at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., alongside another ex-Cowboy, Kyle Crutchmer. Smith and Crutchmer were teammates at OSU in 2016-17, when the former went 15-0 as a redshirt and Crutchmer was 23-7. Both went on to get All-American honors while at OSU.
“So pretty much me going out there was to see if I wanted to fight, which I knew I did from the jump so I didn’t even need to take a trip,” Smith said. “It’s just who I wanted to be with or represented by, but AKA for me is like pretty much a version of Oklahoma State.”
The delay since Smith left OSU was a recovery from a tear of his PCL and meniscus. He had surgery in March, and actually wrestled his final year with it at OSU.
“I found out after my junior year what was wrong and if I had had surgery then, it was a 12-month recovery so I wouldn’t have wrestled as a senior,” he recalled.
He calls Crutchmer “pretty much my brother from another mother.”
“Everything that’s going on there, everything he’s gone through, he’s letting me know everything, all the details, when he has fights I’m there. I’m going through everything with him and figuring out how this stuff is going to be,” he said. “I’ve also seen other fighters in that group, DC, all are great guys, and the level of professionalism, it’s just the right place for me.”
He expects to train for about a year and debut around March 2021. His biggest focus, he said, will be on jiu jitsu — a martial art that unlike karate or Tae Kwon Do, focuses on grappling and ground fighting.
“I feel like I’m comfortable with my wrestling game, my boxing game, but not necessarily my kicking game because of my knee surgery and stuff,” he said.
“I know I’m going to have to work on that a little and then I’m pretty much a newborn when it comes to jiu jitsu. I’ll grab you, get behind you and lock you up by your throat and chunk you, but I don’t know the ins and outs of the positions and what to do so in them. So once I get comfortable with that, I’ll be pretty much unstoppable.”
That March goal has a hitch — the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The gym was closed Tuesday and California enacted tougher restrictions on movement Thursday.
Right now, Smith is stuck in Stillwater.
“I’ve been able to work out at Gallagher(-Iba Arena), he said. “I’ve got a treadmill, my own gym in the garage, I hit kits every so often there. It is what it is for now and I’ll just make the best of it.”