When you look at Means’ professional fight record, it reads 16-3-1, but look closer and you’ll notice he started fighting all the way back in 2004. He competed in five fights building a 3-2 record, including a fight with UFC fighter Spencer Fisher, before disappearing from the fight scene until 2009.
A brush with the law and legal entanglements kept Means out of the fight scene for a few years, but when he came back it was like being reborn.
The time away made Means realized exactly what he wanted and how he wanted to achieve it. He wasn’t going to accomplish that wasting his life making the same mistakes he did as a kid.
“I kind of got detoured a little bit with some legal trouble and just being a young kid, just making mistakes, but came back in ’09 with FIT NHB and Tom and Arlene Vaughn, and just been hitting it 100 percent. Getting the call up was exciting,” Means told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I’m very happy to have a second chance chasing my dream. To be standing where I’m at today compared to five years ago, it’s just really exciting.”
When Means made the decision that he wanted to put everything he could into becoming the best fighter possible, he returned to work with Tom Vaughn in his home state of New Mexico.
Vaughn is a longtime mixed martial arts coach and instructor who has worked with numerous fighters over the year, and was instrumental in bringing up future WEC and UFC champion Carlos Condit when he started training with him years earlier in New Mexico.
Now, Vaughn has become a force of good in Means’ life. Acting as coach, friend, and mentor, Means says that Vaughn has helped him turn his life around, and mold him into the fighter you see today.
“He knows what it’s like to get second and third and fourth chances given to him. He’s been a real motivator. He helps keep me centered, just keeps me focused on the task at hand, and I couldn’t be happier with Tom Vaughn,” said Means.
“I look up to him in a lot of ways. He’s not just my coach, he’s one of my best friends.”
What Means has learned from Vaughn goes beyond just technique in the cage. He’s learned the mentality of fighting and what it takes to be a champion.
“He’s the guy where you take a style and he can just add a couple ingredients, and ultimately make you better. He can pick your brain a little bit, and see what you’re doing wrong and come back and make you that much sharper. Tom is the real deal. He’s a legit coach and he’s a hell of a guy,” Means stated.
HE also knows that Vaughn brings the best out of him when it comes time to fight.
When the UFC came calling, looking for a last-minute replacement to fill in at the UFC on Fuel TV 1 card to face Bernardo Magalhaes, Means says he’s always ready to fight, but he left the decision up to Vaughn whether or not he’d take it.
“Tom Vaughn called me and said ‘we’re going to take this fight’ and I’m always in to fight whether I’m big and fat and out of shape, or whether I’m in shape. Tom’s the one that gives those yes or nos and he called and said you’re in shape, we’re going to take this fight. I just went to the store to buy some Oreo’s and stuff, so I had to put them down and go running out the door to get my Dorito belly off me,” Means joked.
Two weeks later and Means is now ready to show the world what he’s made of. Outside the cage, much like Vaughn’s former prodigy Carlos Condit, Means is as nice and friendly a person as you’ll ever meet.
Inside the cage, there is a switch that gets flipped and he goes into terminator mode.
“He knows how to keep us humble, nice guys, shaking everybody’s hands on the outside of the cage and the minute we get in the cage, we’re able to turn it on and he brings the murderer out in us,” Means described. “It’s just the way he prepares us for fights.”
Means will look to turn that killer instinct on once again when he faces Magalhaes during the UFC on Fuel TV 1 Facebook prelims on Wednesday night.