Somewhere right now, John McGuin (I’d imagine) is doing some sort of preparation for his upcoming fight at MFL 37 on Mar. 28 in South Bend, IN. While the rest of us are probably still recovering from St. Patrick’s day and engulfed in March Madness, John has one thing on his mind – to not only fight in UFC but make some noise doing it, as he has his eyes on the ultimate prize of one day becoming UFC champion.
I’ve known John for over 20 years as he and I grew up 2 minutes down the road from one another. From our days as kids growing up in the small town of Osceola, IN (about 15 minutes away from Notre Dame), he’s always had a drive and determination that isn’t matched by many others out there. The maxim “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything” was written for people like John. He’s never let anything get in the way of achieving his dream. As I’ve been able to witness up close over the years, if you told John he couldn’t do something, he’d make sure you were wrong. He never attacks anything halfway, its all in or nothing. So for me it was a no brainer to want to write this piece on him and let everyone see a side of John that maybe you don’t get to see as he continues his journey to the top.
The sport of MMA is exploding in popularity across the world and admittedly I am a bit late to the party and green when it comes to the sport of MMA. I wanted to know more about it and branch out of my comfort zone when it comes to sports, as well as give John’s fans a chance to see what goes into a fight, his views on the UFC, among other topics. John was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule and sit down and answer a few of them for us:
“I remember you being a multi -sport athlete growing up. How did MMA come to be one of them? What about it sparked your passion?”
I loved competing in sports growing up. I played, football, wrestled, & played basketball. Wrestling & basketball were my two main sports. When I was done with high school I kind of felt lost and wanted to get back into that competitive atmosphere. Watching the UFC sparked my interest in MMA. Royce Gracie stuck out like a sore thumb so I decided to join a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu gym. Having a wrestling background this seemed like the perfect place to start. When I stepped on the mats for the first time at the Lagrange Gracie Academy I knew this was exactly where I needed to be. My journey had begun.
“What’s it like being locked in a cage with an opponent, who’s trying to take you down and only one of you can come out on top?”
Being locked in a cage with someone who wants to embarrass you in front of your family, friends, and fans is something different. My opponent wants to take my money and take the food off my plate. He is literally in there because he believes he can defeat me. I really believe I was born to do this. This is the most competitive sport I’ve ever been involved with by far. When you’re in there it’s either kill or be killed. If you think any other way, in my opinion, you won’t last in this sport. When the cage door locks it’s almost like God is right there with you; it’s a very spiritual and out-of-body experience.
“What all goes into preparing for a bout? What are the most important aspects of training for you?”
Preparation is the name of the game. I train year-round, but when I have a fight scheduled, my training gets upped a notch. I train 2 times a day; 3 times if you count weightlifting. Mornings are striking-specific, whether it be mitt work or MMA positional sparring. At night I work on my jiu-jitsu. This is what I specialize in. I am a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighter. My diet is also cleaned up. I eat food for constant energy but also food that helps me lose weight. It’s kind of a tricky science, but something that needs to be done. I currently train with Team Blackhouse out of Los Angeles. During my training camp I fly out to California and work with the best fighters in the world. My groundwork is taken good care of at the Gracie Academy by Ryron and Rener Gracie. If I want to be the best I must train with the best. Fortunately Ryron Gracie has taken me under his wing and made this all happen for me.
“When you aren’t training or thinking about your upcoming fight, what do you do to escape?”
To escape from the rigors of training or thinking about training I watch other sporting events on TV. I love the Pittsburgh Steelers and watching NFL football along with any basketball, wrestling, UFC, and boxing. I’m pretty much a sports junkie. But it’s hard to not daydream about becoming UFC champion one day. It almost haunts me at times.
“What do you think of the UFC and all the visibility the sport has been getting with CM Punk joining and the rumors of Brock Lesnar possibly returning? Is this good for the sport? Would you like to see them change anything?”
I believe any added publicity is always good for any sport, but unfortunately I don’t agree with the addition of CM Punk. He has never competed before in combat sports and to my knowledge isn’t well versed in any martial art. However, Brock Lesnar has proven at all levels that he is an elite athlete. He was the NCAA Division I wrestling national champion and also a former UFC heavyweight champion. I would love to see Brock back in the cage. I don’t think the addition of CM Punk is good for the sport whatsoever. It almost waters the sport down and delegitimizes it in a way. If I could change anything it would be the fighters’ pay. I believe UFC athletes from top to bottom should be paid much more. These guys are elite athletes and should be paid as such.
“There’s been a lot of debate regarding Ronda Rousey, and if her dominance is good for the women’s division. What is your opinion?”
Without Ronda there would be no women in the UFC. She has single-handedly set the bar for all females in the sport of MMA. The publicity she has given women fighters is unbelievable. She has not only proven that women can compete on the biggest stage in this sport, but she’s shown that they can carry a pay-per-view card and even become one of the most popular athletes on the planet.
“Follow up to that, would you like to see her, try and fight in the men’s division?”
Never. The UFC would never do that, and rightfully so.
“What kind of fighter would you say you are? Do you model yourself after anyone in particular?”
I am a Gracie jiu-jitsu fighter. I pride myself on being able to defend myself anywhere in a fight. Because of this I feel totally comfortable in attacking my opponent. I model my grappling after Ryron Gracie and my striking after Anderson Silva with a mix of Nick Diaz.
“Who is currently your favorite fighter in the sport and, if you could have one dream match to face anyone, who would it be and why?”
Nick Diaz has been my favorite since day one. My dream match would have to be a guy named Sakuraba. Many new fans don’t know who this is, but in my opinion he is one of the greatest of all time. The first real fighter to put the ‘mix’ in mixed martial arts.
“For anyone who is thinking of getting into the sport, what would your advice be for them?”
My advice would be that this is the wrong sport to make a hobby. If you really want to be a professional fighter you must take it seriously. This is the hurt game and is not for everyone. If you are not passionate about MMA then my advice would be to quit now.
“5 years from now where do you envision this journey taking you?”
In five years I really believe I will be in the UFC and contending for a UFC title if not already being the champion. I have no other goal other than to become UFC champion. This is all that runs through my mind everyday and every night.
“I’m sure you’ve met some amazing people along the way. Is there anyone you would like to thank or shout out for helping you make you into the fighter you are today?”
First, I thank God for the people I’ve had the opportunity of meeting and the path he has set me on. Chet Schemahorn took me as a white belt that knew nothing and nurtured me into a pure Gracie Jiu Jitsu practitioner. Along the way I have had the privilege of working with guys like Kroyler Gracie, Dan Weed, Jeff Howe, Ryron and Rener Gracie. Just recently I joined the best MMA team in the world, Team BlackHouse. At BlackHouse I’ve been able to learn from and train with Lyoto Machida, Mehdi Baghdad, James Moontasri, Kevin Casey, Brendan Schaub, Khalil Roundtree, & all the rest of the BlackHouse team. Thomas McGuin has been with me every step of the way. He’s been a huge part of my success and growth.
“How big is it for you to be fighting in your hometown at MFL 37?”
It’s huge that I’m able to fight in front of all my friends, family, and fans in my hometown. I wanted to fight in front of them one last time and the MFL gave me the opportunity to do so. Where I’m from is a big part of who I am today. At MFL 37 on March 28, collectively we will all bring the house down. I can’t wait to feel the energy that everyone brings. The crowd that comes to root me on is amazing. It’s a privilege to fight in front of such great people.
“For those who have never experienced a fight in person before, what can they expect at MFL 37?”
They can expect to be on the edge of their seat the whole time. I’ve been training very hard to give everyone an unbelievable show come March 28. When I step into the cage you can expect to see a real professional doing what he loves and the absolute beauty of fighting. Be ready for one heck of a show!
“Any fight other than yours that you have your eyes on that day?”
The only fight I honestly am thinking about is mine. I have one thing on my mind and that’s taking Ricky Miller’s head off. I’m sure there are other great fights on the card but one thing is for sure… I promise to give one heck of a show.
“Can you give us details about your fight, or any thoughts on your opponent?”
My opponent is an amateur champion and good fighter. I have nothing but respect for anyone that steps in the cage with me. I’ve been working very hard for a long time to give myself the best opportunity to climb the ladder in the sport. Unfortunately for Ricky Miller, he’s my first victim. I don’t want to sound cocky; only very confident in who I am and what I’m able to do.
“Where can people follow you in your climb to be a champion?”
You can follow me on Twitter: @JohnMcGuin, Instagram: @JohnMcGuin, & on Facebook @ John McGuin. Thanks to everyone for all the support.
We’d like to thank John McGuin for his time and allowing us the awesome opportunity. Best of luck on your upcoming fight.