By: Brian J. D’Souza
Tread through MMA circles, and you’ll hear the familiar story of the fighter who got into the sport because they were inspired by the example set by Royce Gracie using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to win in the earliest UFC’s. That leitmotif only begins to define my Toronto BJJ teammate Jon-Taine “The Juggernaut” Hall rather than encapsulating him.
Heading into his pro debut in Calgary on June 26 at Hard Knocks 44, Jon-Taine Hall has an amateur MMA record of 3 wins, no losses and one no-contest due to accidental eye-poke. He’s facing Olympic Games participant Arjan Bhuller, who placed 13th in wrestling at the 2012 London Games.
“I’m going to impose my will on him no matter where we’re at,” says Jon-Taine in his quiet American drawl.
Although Bhuller is 1-0 in MMA, he’s no slouch himself, with a host of wrestling accolades that includes a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Jon-Taine, a brown belt in BJJ under Jorge Britto, is confident that his jiu-jitsu will allow him to defeat Bhuller.
As a white belt, Jon-Taine used his high school wrestling background and size to dominate early foes in jiu-jitsu. A grappling session with black belt instructor Jorge Britto quickly changed his perspective when he discovered how jiu-jitsu allowed the smaller Britto to control and submit him. Britto concluded the eye-opening session by telling him, “As big and strong as you are, imagine what you could do if you learned [jiu-jitsu]!”
Jon-Taine decided to learn BJJ as his base for MMA. That decision proved pivotal, as it allowed him to realize the goals he’d envisioned mentally.
“Everything in your life is just going to be a dream, is going to be out of your grasp,” says Jon-Taine, “until you take your first steps towards it.”
Jon-Taine has put in his time in practice through many national and international grappling tournaments and superfights. Now he’s ready for that next step towards his big dream.
Brian J. D’Souza is the author of the critically acclaimed book Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts. You can check out an excerpt right here