John Maguire has finally got the call to join the UFC, and it’s been a long time in the making. “The One” is a fighter who held his own at middleweight before going on a double0promotion championship tear-up at welterweight. He has long been overdue credible opposition.
Maguire now enters the lion’s den of the UFC and it is unlikely he will ever run out of challenges again. So who is the first person in his crosshairs? Well, it’s been a messy path, but Justin Edwards is the man he’ll face at UFC 138 on Saturday.
“I came into the UFC as a replacement for Marc Scanlon and was meant to fight James Head. Then Head got injured and thankfully Justin Edwards stepped up to keep the fight alive.”
Maguire doesn’t really care about who it is he will face. He is ready to go against whoever appears in front of him on the night, and is quite willing to stand and trade or, better still, bring his own unique style of Gypsy Jiu-Jitsu to the Octagon.
“I know Edwards. I met him at the TUF trials and he’s a good guy. We got some drinks out together. He’s scrappy, quite wild with his strikes, he can wrestle, and has a really good guillotine, but I think I am the better boxer and from a wrestling point of view, I think we have a similar style.”
Similar in the sense that both fighters have a strong top game, so maybe the key to victory is to put the other one on his back and fish for a submission. Maguire is comfortable in either position, as he feels his submission skills will find an opening, regardless.
“The perfect debut for me would be to drop him with strikes and finish with a Submission of the Night bonus. Despite how that may sound, it’s not about the money, it’s about getting the win in a decisive fashion and sending a message.”
Never short on confidence, Maguire is sticking to the tried and tested formula that got him to the big stage, training with his Tsunami teammates at the Pro AM Centre, overseen by former Cage Rage featherweight champion Robbie Olivier.
“The way I see it is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ No disrespect to Edwards, but it’s not like I am fighting someone right at the top like Georges St-Pierre.”
One thing is for sure, UFC 138 will likely be the biggest audience Maguire has ever had to perform in front of. He has experience fighting in front of 7,000 people in Russia, all baying for blood, but he attributes his nerves there down to the foreign set-up. Being as his debut is on the home turf undercard, he is hoping that the atmosphere will be something more akin to what he is used to.
“Because I am on early, maybe most of the people won’t have gotten into the venue yet,” he says with a laugh before making a final, dead-serious statement.
“I have been working at this for years, I have two titles, and I deserve to be here. I haven’t been getting the recognition I earned through victories and people were getting into the UFC ahead of me, so it’s time to prove the everyone that I am ‘The One.’”
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