by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Since winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 this past December, Mac Danzig has been on a rollercoaster ride towards stardom.
Already a popular fighter during his days as King of the Cage lightweight champion, Danzig’s dominance in the UFC has only increased his exposure, leading many to feel that he’s only a few wins away from a lightweight title shot.
Since defeating Mark Bocek in April, he has been out of the spotlight, healing up an injury suffered in that fight. Shortly after officially announcing he would be facing off against tough 155-pound contender Clay Guida later this year, Danzig spoke to MMAWeekly about the injury, his return to fighting and his advice to newly crowned Ultimate Fighter 7 champion Amir Sadollah.
MMAWeekly: First off, Mac, can you give us an injury update?
Mac Danzig: I actually suffered the knee injury in the middle of the (Mark Bocek) fight. I tore a bunch of muscles in my knee, and had a partial tear of a ligament. I’ve jut been healing it up and taking it easy. I moved my girlfriend in with me, took a few photography trips for myself, and now I’m just preparing to get back in there. It’s getting to the point where I’m eight weeks out (from my next fight) and I can start pushing hard.
The injury was slower to heal than I thought it would be, but it will be fine for this fight, unless something crazy happens. I should be good to go.
MMAWeekly: You mention your upcoming fight. For fans that haven’t heard yet, tell us what’s upcoming.
Mac Danzig: It’s going to be me and Clay (Guida) at a UFC Fight Night in September. I guess it’s going to be in Omaha, Neb. I’m not sure what spot our fight is going to be on the card. I’ve heard rumors that it might be the main event, co-main event or just a regular fight on the card – I don’t know. None of that really matters to me; I’m just really looking forward to fighting him.
This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been very excited about the opponent and match-up. I think from a fan’s perspective it’s an awesome fight. If I was a fan watching, I’d want to see it.
I have no animosity towards him, I have a lot of respect for him – it’s just one of those things where he’s an awesome competitor and I can’t wait to get in there to fight him. It’s a huge fight for me. It’s the biggest one I’ve had and I’m looking forward to it.
MMAWeekly: Do you think this is the fight that represents that next step up for you on your way to a lightweight title shot?
Mac Danzig: Yeah, definitely. I feel he’s that gatekeeper to the Top 10 or Top 5 in the lightweight division. I think he’s put himself in that position by being one of the best fighters in the UFC. He’s had a couple really close decisions and that (Roger) Huerta loss set him back a little bit. Those minor setbacks have stopped him from actually fighting for the title, but he’s right up there.
The UFC is throwing him at me to see what I can do. If I get past him that automatically puts me in a position where everyone knows that I’m the real deal and I’m ready to make a run for the title in another year or two. If I don’t get past him, it’s one of those things where it definitely sets me back.
He’s a wrestler, but he doesn’t stall, and he’s just 100 percent intensity all the time, so it should be fun. I think I’m the smarter fighter, more technical, and I know I can beat him. I’m 100 percent confident; I wouldn’t have taken it if I didn’t think I could win.
MMAWeekly: I understand you made the move recently to Las Vegas to train full time for a new team?
Mac Danzig: I moved to Vegas to be at (Randy) Couture’s gym full time. In early March I moved out here and it was my preparation for the (Mark) Bocek fight and it was great. I’ve just got so many lightweight and welterweight fighters to train with at Couture’s. I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. I’ve trained a lot of places, but it is by far the best training facility I’ve ever been at. Not only is the facility (itself) good, but there’s so many great instructors, coaches and fighters. It’s a good situation and I’m here to stay and fight for this team.
MMAWeekly: What’s it been like to work with Randy himself?
Mac Danzig: When I was at Legends, when Randy was still coming down there, we had a chance to roll and he’s a lot of fun to train with. He’s been showing me a thing or two. Every time I come to Couture’s to train on the grappling days, he’s always there working with the fighters.
Whenever he’s in town he’s there on every single day that we do wrestling practice and he teaches everybody. He’s a role model; we all look up to him, inside the ring and as a competitor. It speaks for itself when he’s coaching and everybody listens. I’ve already picked up a whole lot of good stuff from him.
MMAWeekly: Since your last fight, the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter wrapped up with Amir Sadollah coming out on top. Having experienced winning the show yourself and the aftermath, is there any advice you can give him?
Mac Danzig: I would just say to him to use the notoriety that you gain from winning the show to your advantage. Use it to get endorsements and really work it, because this stuff doesn’t last forever. Unfortunately in this sport if you take two or three losses, people forget about you. I would say don’t stop training, keep going 100 percent with it, and the biggest thing is to keep your mind right.
The worst thing you can do after winning something like that is to be like, “I won the show, so I’m set.” That’s not how it is. Take a couple losses and rub certain people the wrong way and you can be canned.
Don’t forget what got you there. Don’t let all the fame and stuff go to your head, because the same fans that are banging down your door now, will be talking bad about you if you take some losses. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. This stuff doesn’t last forever, it only lasts as long as you can make it last. In order to make it last, you’ve got to keep your mind right and don’t stop training and learning.
MMAWeekly: Now that you’re back healthy, what’s the goal for the remainder of this year?
Mac Danzig: I’m still going to fight one more time after I fight Guida. Hopefully I’m coming off a win in that fight, that’s what I’m planning on, and they give me someone that if I get a win against, it puts me in title contention. I’m just hoping to fight Clay and another great fighter after that. Not looking past Guida, maybe someone from the Huerta versus (Kenny) Florian fight or if (Nate) Diaz gets past Josh Neer, any of those guys I’d love to fight.
I just want to fight the best guys in the world. I’d rather fight hard fights win or lose against great fighters than fight mid-range guys. There’s a time and a place for everything, and I’m not going to turn down any fight that they offer me, but if I had it my way I’d just be fighting the stars in this weight class, the guys that have already proven themselves.
That’s what makes a career, you can sit around and fight guys who are 3-0 on undercards that no one has ever heard of for every fight, or you can step up and fight guys like Guida – and that’s what I’m going to do. There’s no other way to the title. If all you care about is a few more wins on your record, you can ask for those lower rung guys, but that’s not my angle.
MMAWeekly: Thanks for your time, Mac, is there anything you want to say as we head out?
Mac Danzig: I want to thank you and MMAWeekly for all your support. You’ve been there with me for a long time. From the small shows all the way up till now you’ve been very supportive of me. I also want to thank the fans for their support. I can’t wait to fight Clay, it should be a great fight and hopefully I won’t get robbed of Fight of the Night like I did last time.