Local mixed martial arts fighter James “Binky” Jones looks to rebound from a loss in the prestigious Bellator Fighting Championships with a win over Jeremy Carper Saturday in the Altoona PA based Valley Fight League.
Jones, who grew up in Turners Station, attended St. Rita's School in Dundalk and lived with his mother, a single parent, and his younger brother and siste. In order to keep Jones on the straight and narrow, his mother enrolled him in as many sports as possible.
Jones played football, basketball and wrestled in the various Dundalk rec programs.
While Jones excelled at every sport, wrestling became his true passion.
“I started wrestling for the Hawks at 7 years old,” Jones said. “I loved how it was an individual sport, but still had a team aspect. We were the first team from Baltimore County to win a junior league state championship. There were a lot of great wrestlers on that team that went on to have great high school careers at Gilman, Curley and Calvert Hall.”
When it was time for Jones to pick a school, he chose Mount Saint Joseph, a Maryland wrestling powerhouse in Catonsville. Jones' coach John Hefner would swing by Turners Station early on school days to pick Jones and other kids that lived in the city area up from home.
At. Mount St. Joseph, Jones dominated MSA competition. He applied his strong work ethic to intensity of the year-long wrestling season at The Xaverian Brothers-sponsored Catholic school.
Jones paid for his scholarship by working year-round on his wrestling skills, and the school cashed in when he placed four times in the MSA State Tournament, earning two MSA state titles as well as a National Prep runner-up performance for the school. He finished his high school career 118-16-2.
Jones accepted a scholarship to wrestle at Morgan State, where he starred as a two-year starter. Eleven years ago, Jones began training in Brazilian Jujitsu at Lloyd Irvin's school in Camp Springs. Currently Jones trains at Team Raww Dogg Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts as well as Charm City BJJ and Practical MMA.
During his professional MMA career, Jones has fought in several high-level promotions, including Elite XC, Bodog Fights and the UWC, but has been unable to score a fight at the highest level the UFC.
“My goal is to fight in the UFC,” Jones said. “I'll fight anybody they have at 145.”
Jones trains every morning at the gym he has constructed in his house from 4:30 to 6:30 in the morning, working on his cardio and strength.
During the day, Jones works as the warehouse curriculum supervisor at Youth in Transition, a special education school.
“In the beginning I was a wrestler trying to fight MMA, then I was a BJJ guy trying to fight MMA,” Jones said. “I have been putting everything together—now I consider myself a true mixed martial artist. When that gate closes I just put it in beast mode.”