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Orem • Jan Jorgensen has no idea what is about to happen.

The uncertainty is not new.

As a three-time first-team All-Mountain West Conference defensive end for BYU, Jorgensen thrived on the unknown. The way a set play could dissolve, opening a lane and providing a sudden opportunity. The thrilling, unpredictable seconds that separated a well-researched offensive plan from ideal defensive chaos.

But after spending 2006-09 racking up 221 tackles and 28.5 sacks for the Cougars, the 26-year-old Jorgensen is about to enter an unknown new world.

One in many ways more unforgiving than the highly regulated environment of football. One in which brute strength and natural athleticism are easily countered by deception and knowledge. And one in which a big name and a larger reputation are invalid as soon as a first-time fighter steps in the ring.

Jorgensen will make his mixed martial arts debut tonight, taking on former University of California-Los Angeles defensive lineman Jerzy Siewierski. The heavyweight duo round out a card that starts at 6 p.m. at the Utah Community Credit Union Center in Orem.

"The feelings I have about my first fight are like the ones I had about my first football game," said Jorgensen, who resides in Provo. "You don't know what's going to happen."

Jorgensen, who grew up in Helper and attended Carbon High School, started wrestling when he was 3. By age 4, he was competing in tournaments while other kids were watching cartoons and daydreaming.

But the fast rise resulted in a equally quick burnout: By the time Jorgensen reached the eighth grade, he had enough of thick-padded mats and grappling moves.

Soon, football was calling his name. And after four strong years at BYU, Jorgensen pointed his eyes and positioned his heart toward a spot in the NFL. The phone rang. But the right words never came through the line.

A little more than a year later, the ex-Cougar has settled back in. He bases part of his day around a local radio show. The remainder of his time is devoted to his new love.

"You open your mouth, and it's like a firehose is spraying in," Jorgensen said.

He added: "I've always been an all-or-nothing person."

Orem-based MMA fighter Ramsey Nijem said a do-or-die mentality is essential for any athlete hoping to make a living in the sport.

Nijem acknowledged that Jorgensen's past life as a wrestler gives him an edge. But what makes MMA so difficult is its complexity. Everything from boxing to Jiu Jitsu has to be processed and absorbed, and then fighters must utilize and respond to a wide variety of weapons on the fly.

Three months into his training, Jorgensen has mastered the first hurdle of conditioning. However, much taller mountains — the uncertainty of the ring; how Jorgensen handles the adrenaline rush and the flurry that follows — still remain.

"Jan's a good guy, and I hope he does well. He's athletically talented and physically dedicated," Nijem, 22, said. "But you just never know what's going to happen until you get in there."

After a year filled with post-BYU adjustment, Jorgensen is now no different than any first timer about to enter the ring.

To him, the fight is everything and the only thing. It could be the first step toward a new existence, or a sudden reminder that the ex-Cougar's best days spent wreaking havoc in the world of sports are behind him.

By the end of Friday, the uncertainty will be gone. And if Jorgensen's record stands at 1-0 rather than 0-1, the dream will continue.

"I just want to keep fighting and keep winning," Jorgensen said. "And ultimately, one day, I want to make it to the [Ultimate Fighting Championship]."

Showdown Fights • Respect

P What • Mixed martial arts event

When • 7:30 p.m. tonight (preliminary bouts start at 6 p.m.)

Where • UCCU Center at Utah Valley University in Orem

Tickets • $17-$177,

Featuring • Jan Jorgensen (BYU) vs. Jerzy Siewierski (UCLA); Josh Burkman vs. Jordan Smith; Junie Browning vs. Jordan Clements; Tandi Schaeffer vs. Melissa Moore —

Jorgensen at BYU

Position • Defensive end

Years • 2006-09

Key stats • 52 games played, 221 tackles, 28.5 sacks