Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Michael Bisping knew it would be a tall task to deal with “The Spider,” so he called in “The Tarantula” for assistance.

Ahead of Bisping’s headlining clash with Anderson Silva back in 2016, the future UFC middleweight champion worked with Jalin Turner to prepare for Silva’s distinct style. Though Turner is a lightweight who stands a rangy 6-foot-3, he at least shared some physical similarities with Silva, a fighter that Turner idolizes.

Turner is currently one of the brightest prospects in the UFC’s 155-pound division and he recently appeared on The MMA Hour to discuss what it was like being in the opposing camp to one of his heroes.

“I was a hungry, young kid. I had to pay the bills,” Turner explained when asked why he accepted the opportunity.

“In the beginning, I was like, ‘Damn, I feel like I’m betraying my hero, my idol,’ you know?” Turner continued. “But at the same time I was like, ‘Bisping’s paying me, I can’t say no.’”

Bisping went on to defeat Silva by decision in a hotly contested fight that propelled him to his infamous short-notice title shot against Luke Rockhold. And three years later, Turner had his own run-in with Silva. At an event in Australia headlined by the middleweight legend and Israel Adesanya, Turner scored his first UFC win, a 53-second TKO of Callan Potter.

Turner actually crossed paths with Silva during fight week, and though he didn’t want to geek out and approach Silva, it was actually Silva who came up to him to offer these simple words of wisdom, “The secret is love.”

It was a surreal moment for Turner, a former amateur wrestler who began his martial arts training in earnest working out of his backyard. After testing himself in a spar against a more experienced friend, Turner advanced his skills by studying videos online and copying Silva and others.

“So I ended up training in my backyard,” Turner said. “I didn’t have a punching bag or anything. I had a couch. I stood my couch on end, I’d stand it up tall-wise and I’d use that as my punching bad. I’d watch videos of Anderson Silva, KwonKicker, Shane Fazen, and just learn techniques on my own. That’s how I developed my striking — on my own, for the most part.”

Turner, who turns 27 in May, is currently on a four-fight win streak in one of MMA’s deepest divisions. He is 5-1 in the UFC and all 12 of his pro victories have come by way of knockout or submission.

Most recently at UFC 272, he defeated Jamie Mullarkey by second-round TKO. According to the list of medical suspensions following the event, Turner was listed as requiring further examination on his left foot and left knee with a potential six-month suspension looming in a worst case scenario; however, he said on The MMA Hour that his injuries are not serious and he doesn’t expect to be out for long.

“I just got some stuff checked out,” Turner said. “I thought I was more hurt than I actually am. I’m good, so just gonna take another week and heal up, and I want to get back in there. I’m thinking July.”

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