Ten years after his start, Heun still kicking it as pro MMA fighter
Palmer’s Jake Heun loves to fight. It’s his lifestyle and his livelihood.
For the last 10 years, the former University of Hawaii football player has fought professionally in mixed martial arts and traveled the world doing what he loves most.
“Yeah, it’s been a hell of a ride and I feel like it’s just starting to pay dividends,” he told me.
That’s because Heun is finally getting the recognition he deserves for compiling a 15-9 pro record and showcasing a no-fear reputation to fight anybody, anytime, anywhere.
His Twitter bio says he’s even down for a knife fight; surely a joke, but maybe not. Heun definitely has a crazy streak.
You have to be a little crazy – in addition to being incredibly brave and tough – to kick it on the MMA fight scene for a decade.
“I couldn’t do it without the support of my friends and family,” Heun said. “Bad times have really revealed who’s there for me and it’s been great.”
As his circle of trust tightens, his reach in the fight game has expanded.
Heun has gone international.
The 32-year-old is currently thriving in Japan’s RIZIN Fighting Federation, where he has flashed his first three-fight winning streak since 2012 to 2013.
“My last fight there was 50,000 fans at Saitama and the card was nuts,” Heun said. “The Japanese fans are the best fans out there. They are knowledgeable and respectful of fighters win lose or draw.
“Win the crowd, win Japan.”
Alaska's favorite "Honey Bear," Jake Heun (15-9), staves off the ennui of Satoshi Ishii, sandbagging the former Olympic gold medal judoka with a first-round uppercut and follow-up punches! The seven-time WSOF/PFL vet owns three straight wins. #RIZIN20 #RIZINFF pic.twitter.com/kgmsjOz6cP
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) December 31, 2019
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound brawler has fought for many American promotions such as UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter (Seasons 17 and 19), the World Series of Fighting and the Professional Fighters League and regional promotions.
Heun, of Palmer High fame, said he’s better suited for RIZIN because the structure and rules are different than leagues in the United States.
He prefers fighting in a ring rather than a cage.
“It makes for a more active striking battle,” he said.
He wants to attack a downed opponent and not have the referee interfere.
“It doesn’t allow for a boring grappling match,” he said. “It’s perfect for me.”
Finally, he prefers a fight to be judged in its entirely as opposed to round by round like in most leagues.
Heun prevailed in two of his first three fights with RIZIN before he re-signed a new four-fight deal. He won his first fight in his new deal on New Year’s Eve and then COVID hit and everything came to a halt.
He is currently living in lockdown in Australia, unable to even enter Japan during the pandemic.
“I have every intention of moving to Japan at some point,” Heun said. “I am working on learning the language and trying to grow my brand there so I can do more than just fight. I love Japan. It really feels like a place I could live.”