James Jenkins swings a big right hand, but his chin impressed even more on the premiere episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 22 on Wednesday night.
Jenkins' chin absorbed significant punches and knees from opponent Brennan Sevin en route to the decision victory in the preliminary bout. The win guaranteed Jenkins, from Rocky Point, a spot on the new season of the show. Filming of the season that features lightweights from America against lightweights from Europe took place this summer, with the season playing out over the next 12 weeks or so. Urijah Faber is coach of Team USA and interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor is coach of Team Europe.
"This is all I wanted," Jenkins said after his fight. "I feel amazing. I feel great."
Jenkins, who trains with Matt Serra and Ray Longo, made it happen from the start. Sevin, from Louisiana, threw a leg kick in the opening seconds of their bout. Jenkins caught it, controlled Sevin's leg and used it for the takedown. Some of the first round was edited out for time, but UFC president Dana White said later in the show that Jenkins "basically" stayed on top of Sevin the rest of the time.
The second round, however, brought fast exchanges of heavy shots.
"It was a brutal fight, guys getting bloodied and beaten up," Faber said. "Impressed me for sure."
Jenkins connected with several big right hands that staggered Sevin in the earlier part of the round. Sevin recovered and landed quite a few significant shots, including a pair of knees to Jenkins' head. Jenkins appeared to walk through them despite the whiplash appearance of his head and neck upon receipt of such strikes.
"This guy's got a chin and a half," White said while watching the fight cageside.
Jenkins (8-1) is the eighth Long Island-based fighter to appear on "The Ultimate Fighter." Only Serra of East Meadow has won the show, turning his Season 4 win into a title shot and victory over Georges St-Pierre. Wantagh's Al Iaquinta (TUF 15) and West Islip resident Dennis Bermudez (TUF 14) each made the final in their respective seasons.
Jenkins is a former Ring of Combat featherweight champion. He had signed with Titan FC last year but never fought for the promotion.
"This is a dream come true right now," Jenkins said. "Now, I just have to get there and make it happen."