The night of Feb. 16 was a messy, but successful night for Jesse James Kosakowski.
“You wouldn’t believe how many times people came up to me and said, ‘Dude, your fight was more exciting than any of the fights on the main card,” he said a few days after his fight.
The 22-year-old MMA fighter from Prospect won his Bellator debut by defeating Rodlfo Neves Rocha via rear naked choke in the second round of a welterweight preliminary fight at Bellator 216 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I expected him to come out guns blazing and trying to throw hands, but he wasn’t really trying to throw hands at all,” Kosakowski said. “He was staying really reserved and staying back. I think he was waiting for me to make the mistake, so I had to kind of engage into the fight a little bit and kind of make things happen.”
Kosakowski ended the match partially covered in Rodolfo’s blood, the result of a couple shots to the face. Kosakowski barely even noticed and was just happy the blood wasn’t his own.
“He was able to get out of some of the stuff I was putting him in,” he said. “He ended up on top of me. I got back on top of him. I was landing some big shots on top of him and then eventually in that second round I split him open with an elbow, and I was able to slide in the choke.”
Kosakowski improved to 3-0 as a professional, 8-0 including amateur bouts, with all three of his pro victories coming at Mohegan Sun. He said he sold about $9,000 worth of tickets, giving him a lot of crowd support during the fight.
“The energy was absolutely insane. It was just electric,” he said. “Everybody was cheering and being real supportive. I wasn’t really focused too much on the lights, I didn’t want to focus on other things besides just getting the job done. I went in there and I knew I had a purpose. I wasn’t there just for the lights and just to be a part of it. I was there to be the last one getting out of there.”
Kosakowski and his team, led by manager Carlos Corriea, are working on the next step in his career. He is looking for a permanent spot in the Bellator rotation and could be back at it again when Bellator comes to Mohegan again.
As of now, Bellator has events announced through May 11. Being part of the main event would be another big step on his way to the top.
“Of course (getting on the main card) is going to happen eventually, but as far as I’m concerned, just get me on the roster,” Kosakowski said. “I’m going to show what I’m about. They could throw whoever they want at me. I’m in there for a purpose. I know where I’m going. A lot of these guys are doing it just for the image, just to get themselves some recognition. I’m doing it because I want to get fights.”
Kosakowski gave credit to his home gym, Practical Self Defense Training Center; Team FAACT (Fighting Arts Academy Connecticut) in West Haven; his strength and conditioning coach, Rob Beamon of PRT Fitness; Trifecta MMA in Boston; his sponsors and his friends and family for helping him get to this point.
He knows they will be with him the rest of the way as he works to get to bigger and bigger stages.
“I’ve been in the game ever since I was 4 years old,” he said. “I’ve been doing tournaments, kick-boxing matches and boxing matches since I was 8 years old. What else do I have to do to get on the bigger stage? I know Bellator said they wanted me after my third amateur fight (in July 2017). Well, now they got me, so let me get back in there.”