by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
participating in the most recent season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality
series, Mac Danzig had carved out a solid career for himself, yet remained
relatively unknown on the national scene.
course of his six-year career, he had racked up an impressive 16-4-1 record,
including an impressive 12-fight winning streak, which included a year long
reign as King of the Cage Lightweight Champion, yet still he got very little
Top Ten consideration.
losses earlier this year to Clay French in King of the Cage and Hayato “Mach”
Sakurai in Pride Fighting Championships seemed to put him further out of the
to get himself back on track, the normally private Danzig made the choice to
join the cast of the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter, and in the process
open himself up to a whole new audience and rejuvenate his career.
immediately he became a polarizing figure on the show. His veteran confidence
and displeasure with the pitfalls of reality television quickly manifested
itself into many people misconstruing him as a cocky, arrogant fighter, the
exact opposite of his true nature.
the process, he remained privately focused away from the cameras on his supreme
goal to get his career back on track and make a new run at championship glory,
perceptions be damned, and it paid off.
Saturday in Las Vegas, his hard work will finally come to fruition as he faces
off against Tommy Speer in the finals of season six, in a match up of veteran
experience versus raw up-and-coming prospect.
after the last episode of the season aired on Spike TV, Danzig spoke with
MMAWeekly to discuss his reality television experience, his finals match-up
with Speer, and where he looks to be headed into the future.
First off Mac, tell us how you feel about your whole experience on The Ultimate
Danzig: I guess it’s changed my life for the positive. I do have some personal
issues with being on a reality show, and putting myself in a position where I’m
on national TV, being judged by millions of people. But at the same time, I
knew what I was getting into when I agreed to do it, so that’s the price you
pay for name recognition in the sport.
I felt it
was a good move for my career to get on the show. I’ve been waiting for a long
time to make a name for myself. It’s changed things a lot and hopefully I’ll
finally be able to make a living with this sport, which has been goal of mine
for a while.
How do you feel about the way you were portrayed by Spike TV’s presentation of
Danzig: I don’t mind the way I’ve been portrayed so much. It’s not like they
put anything up that I didn’t say. I mean, they turn things around, twist
things around to amplify whatever effect they are going for, for a certain
situation, but I’m not going to complain about it.
was grumpy and angry a lot of the time, but it’s usually not that big of a
deal. I’m not like that all of the time, but it was the way I was in that
house. You put me in that house, that’s the way I react. You put Richie
Hightower in the house; you saw how he reacted. Everyone has their own ways of
dealing with it.
it’s over and the people that know me and know how I am, they know I’m not some
arrogant, conceited person. That’s all that really matters. I can’t worry about
what anyone else thinks about me. I can’t waste that time. I’ve got a career to
Let’s talk about the two coaches on the show. First off, what do you think
about the opposing coach, current Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight
titleholder Matt Serra?
Danzig: I don’t have any problems with Serra at all. Everyone thinks I’m mad at
Matt Serra because he picked George (Sotiropoulos), and I really didn’t care if
I got picked first or second. It doesn’t matter to me. I went in there thinking
whichever team I was on, fine, I’m going in there to with this thing and that
they’re both good coaches in their own way.
have any problems with Matt Serra. I don’t know him real well, but I respect
him as a fighter. I’ve been watching him since I got into this thing and I
respect his jiu-jitsu and the way he fights. I thought Drago (Pete Sell) was a
cool guy for the little bit I knew him. I didn’t really talk to Ray Longo that
much, but I hear good things about him, so I’ve got nothing bad to say about
And what about your coach, Matt Hughes?
Danzig: I think he’s a good guy, but at the same time people are always asking
me what he’s really like, because people have a hard time reading him. I’m in
the same boat, I don’t know. I spent six weeks with the guy, but I wasn’t able
to form an opinion either way about him. I can’t say anything bad about him for
tell you Robbie Lawler is a really good guy. I got along really well with him,
and the other coaches as well. Matt Pena is a great boxing coach. He is one of
the best boxing coaches I’ve worked with. I think he’s put a lot of things
together for mixed martial arts, so it was good working with him, Hughes and
(Marc) Fiore as well. Overall it was a good experience being on that team.
All right, let’s get to the fight at hand. You’re in the finals against Tommy
Speer; tell us your thoughts on the fight.
Danzig: He’s one of the hardest guys to fight. He’s incredibly strong and has
knockout power standing. The few times I did spar with him, he was able to
phase me, even when I was blocking punches with 16-ounce gloves, he hits that
hard. But at the same time, even though he has knockout power, his stand-up
(technique) isn’t that good.
got to avoid those big punches of his. If I’m smart about it, I’ll move around
and move my head. I really think I can make him look bad standing; I just have
to avoid that big right hand. I’ve got to avoid being taken down and stalled
on. I mean, he doesn’t mean to stall, but he just kind of grinds you out down
there, so I need to avoid being held down.
the two things to avoid. He just bull-rushes you, goes for the take down and
looks for some really hard ground and pound punches, and when he’s not doing
that, he’s usually looking to land that straight right. So I need to avoid
those things and be a slick, smart, fighter and take advantage of my technique.
I’ve got to keep my mind right in the fight. I think it’s a good match-up for
me. I just have to apply the tools I have.
This season of The Ultimate Fighter was built around the welterweight division,
whereas you are normally a lightweight. Has there been any thought into what
weight class you’re going to continue your career at?
Danzig: If I have anything to say about it at all, this will be the last fight
in my career at 170. I’m 27 now. My body has still hasn’t changed to the point
where I have an extremely hard time making 155. It’s hard, but I’ve got no
business fighting at 170. All skills being equal, the size is just too much.
I have no
intentions at staying at welterweight. I could screw around and fight Top 20
guys and do decent; fight some mid-range A-level guys, but I really want to
make a run at this and win a world title, and 155 is the place I can do that,
not 170. The size is too much of a difference.
like if I go into the UFC at 155, there are hardly any guys in there that are
scrubs. I’ve only seen maybe one or two guys that are poor skills-wise, and
they’ve already been weeded out. I look at 155 and I see a bunch of really,
really tough guys. I might as well jump in there and go with them.
can happen in that weight class. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day;
everyone has high skill levels. Even though I’m overmatched in size at 170, at
lightweight I feel I’d be more competitive. I think I fit in there well and if
I get a solid streak of wins together, I could put together a run for the title
in a few years and keep it.
Thanks for your time Mac, it’s appreciated as always. Is there anything you’d
like to say as we close things out?
Danzig: I just want to say to everybody that writes me, my fans, I’ve been
having a hard time getting back to everybody, but I really appreciate all the
words of support and encouragement, all the kind mail that I get from the
people that really like me.
consider yourself a Mac Danzig fan, I’m flattered and I’m going to give it my
all every time, there’s no question about that. That’s how I’ve always been.
That’s the truth; I go in there and give 100% for the fans. Don’t forget to
watch Dec. 8 for The Ultimate Fighter finale, that’s going to be my moment, so
don’t forget to tune in to Spike TV.