Bubba Jenkins reveals how old Big Ten wrestling rivalry with Lance Palmer inspired him to join PFL
Now that Jenkins (14-4 MMA, 0-0 PFL) has joined two-time PFL tournament winner Palmer (22-3 MMA, 11-0 PFL) on the PFL roster, the 2011 NCAA Division 1 wrestling champ has added motivation to compete against him.
That’s because the two go way back, with Jenkins besting Palmer on the wrestling mats on numerous occasions at the Big Ten Championships. While Jenkins is aware that MMA is different to wrestling, he likes the competitive edge that he’ll have on Palmer entering the 2021 season.
“PFL just had that tournament style that I like,” Jenkins told MMA Junkie. “It helps so much that Lance Palmer is over there, he’s a guy that I wrestled in college multiple times, so that helped. To see him go 10-0 and win two million dollars was like ‘Yo! Are they giving checks away to this guy? Like they can’t find anyone to beat him?’ I’ve been competing against Palmer for a long time. I know he’s strong, I know he’s this, I know he’s that, but that’s 10 straight guys. Let’s do something about this.”
After a successful collegiate wrestling career, the confident and charismatic Jenkins was looking for something more and decided to transition to MMA. He spent the majority of his career under the Bellator banner, amassing an 8-3 record with the promotion. In his most recent outings, Jenkins captured and defended the BRAVE CF featherweight title – his first major MMA title.
But now, Jenkins is ready to take the next step by joining the PFL tournament and, though he’s cordial with Palmer, he’s excited for the opportunity to square off with him again all these years later.
“I beat Palmer more than twice,” Jenkins said. “Me and Palmer have had six matches, I think he’s 1-5 and we were in the Big Ten at 149 for four years of our college career, so I would have wrestled him in the Big Ten tournament, wrestled him in the Big Ten duel matches, wrestled him at the Nationals, stuff like that. So I’ve seen Palmer and known Palmer for a long time, actually. We’re good friends, but they’re gonna put a million on his head. We gotta talk about our friendship afterward.
“But right now, me having grown up with Palmer, I’ve known Palmer since high school and the wrestling community is a small knit community, so not only am I in his head, he already knows what it looks like to square off against me. He already knows what it’s like for us to both weigh-in and then look each other in the eye.”