by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Last year was a good year for Mac Danzig. He raised his already impressive winning streak to 11 fights, defending his King of the Cage Lightweight Championship successfully on three of those occasions.
But as good as this past year was for Danzig, Mac is looking to make 2007 his breakthrough year, starting with his title defense on January 19th in Chicago, Illinois against Miletich Fighting Systems and former PRIDE fighter Clay French.
“I’ve just been training really hard – like I always do – and preparing,” Danzig told MMAWeekly of his preparations for his fourth title defense. “I started off my training up in San Francisco with Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez a few weeks back and got my training off on the right foot.”
Mac added, “I’ve been training every day at [Bas Rutten's and Randy Couture's] Legends with a lot of good fighters. I’m doing my best to stay in shape, put this guy [French] away and move on to bigger and better things.”
When it comes to Clay French, Danzig is lucky in the fact that even though he only knows a little about his opponent, it’s better than other times where he’s had no information heading into a title fight.
“The only thing I know about him is that he’s a southpaw with a wrestling background,” admitted Mac. “He wrestled at Eastern Illinois and Matt Hughes was actually his wrestling coach there. So he’s got a good wrestling background. He’s a southpaw, so it’s given me an opportunity to train on my stand-up against a southpaw – which is always good to go back to that and get used to it, because there’s a lot of really good fighters out there that are southpaws.”
Danzig continued, “The only fight I saw of his was with [Shinya] Aoki [from PRIDE: Bushido 13]. Aoki has the ability to submit a lot of guys from his back; we just saw it with his last fight with Joachim Hansen. So I don’t necessarily judge Clay on that loss, but I definitely I have the edge in submissions. If I do take him down at all, I don’t think the fight will last very long if I put him on his back. It’s either going to be a stand-up fight in my favor or me looking to take him down and put him on his back.”
In addition to having trained recently with Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields at Fairtex San Francisco, Mac had earlier traveled to Canada to work with Team Tompkins, home of such fighters as Mark Hominick, Sam Stout and Chris Horodecki.
When asked about how his recent travels came about and impacted him, Danzig replied, “I feel it’s really good. There was a little dry spell at Legends for a week or two there, there wasn’t a lot of people there to train with, but that happens around the holiday season a lot. So basically what I did around late November was get some training in with Jake and Gilbert and I’m looking to back up again if I can get my financial situation squared away and finish out my training with them.”
“I like floating around a little bit. Legends has become a really good gym for me. I’m teaching there, I’m one of the head instructors there and I’m working with a lot of the fighters there, helping them out and it’s becoming a good family of up and coming fighters that are helping each other out. I definitely like to get out every now and then and see where I’m at and train with some good guys. Training with Gilbert was just great, he’s got this intensity that not a lot of other people have and he’s just great to train with,” further commented Mac.
Danzig further elaborated on working with Melendez – who just impressively dispatched top-ranked Tatsuya Kawajiri at PRIDE Shockwave 2006 on New Year’s Eve – by saying, “Gilbert’s a hard worker and he’s one of the few people that works really hard in training and even harder in the ring. It shows when he’s in the ring fighting. I think he’s destined to be one the best guys in the lightweight division. He’s just going to get better, he’s young, hits like a freight-train and the sky’s the limit for him. Hopefully I’m going to fallow in the same path.”
As for the lightweight division and where Mac sees himself currently at and where he can see himself being at the end of the year, Danzig knows he has to step up his profile. Already being an underground favorite is one thing, but to get to where he wants to go, Mac knows he’s got to get himself that all-important national and worldwide exposure.
“I look at myself as one of the top fighters in the division skill-wise,” exclaimed Danzig. “I just haven’t gotten a chance to show it against any of the bigger names on a big stage yet. Hopefully if I get to fight in either Strikeforce, or even better the PRIDE 16-man tournament this year. That would be a good chance to showcase to people what I’ve got.”
Mac continued, “This division is only getting better. Even though those Top-5 guys out there like [Takanori] Gomi are still at the top of the game, you’ve got so many up and coming guys that are starting to make their mark that are really, really tough. The division is completely stacked. What I’d have to do to put myself in that Top-5 is to get at least three or four very high-profile fights against good fighters and win all of them convincingly. That’s not an easy task, but I’m going for it and it’s what I’ve got to do.”
Should Danzig continue to perform like he has been over the past two years, it won’t be long before he starts seeing his name move up the Top-10 rankings and finally get the opportunities he’s worked so hard for.
Mac concluded the conversation by wanting to remind people to come out to KOTC in Chicago on January 19th and by wanting to thank those who have given him continued support during his championship reign.
“I want to let everybody that fallows my career know that I’m going in 100% and I’m going to knock this guy out and have a good time doing it,” exclaimed Danzig. “I’d like to thank Warrior Wear, FantasyFightClub.com, and thank my home team at Legends – everybody that’s been helping me out. This is it, this is the year – I’m going for it all – I’m going for broke.”