Kickin with Mike "Joker" Guymon
Last August, I was working at the weigh-ins for the King Of The Cage “Superstars” show, when I was told that one of our superstars, and friend to everyone, KOTC Welterweight Champion, Mike “Joker” Guymon, had threatened suicide and ended up in a standoff with the police. Thankfully, Mike was able to walk away from the whole situation unhurt, and after a brief stay in the hospital, saw his life completely change, for the better. Since his win at King Of The Cage “Distorted”, Mike and I sat down for a while and talked about his road to recovery, his most recent win, and the next chapter in his life.
ML: Can you walk me through your last title defense in King Of The Cage against Quinn Mulhern?
MG: My last fight against Quinn, I had to prepare for someone that was taller than me, had long reach, and good grappling. I didn’t know about his wrestling. I just had to prepare for who knows what with him. We started off with an exchange and it surprised me that he shot in on me right away. I just wanted to make sure I neutralized his shot and ended up switching it around on him and putting him on his back. It as funny because as soon as I put him on his back, my cornermen were saying “stand him up, stand him up!”, because they saw what he did to (Chris) Brennan. I was feeling him out down there and as like, well this ain’t too bad, I’ve seen this all before. I just had to control his hips, because I knew he’d be rolling under for my legs. I kept constant pressure on him, controlling his hips, and every now and then, he’d show his head and I could land a couple of strikes. And that’s what we did for the first couple of rounds.
Third round, I could just feel him break. He wasn’t going for as much and I had just seen more and more spots. And then the fourth round, I pretty much had my way with him, landing some knees and some shots that hurt him pretty well. I think he was just frustrated with his game, and the game I was playing, so I got lucky.
ML: Before the fight with Quinn, you went through a very tough time in your life. How did you overcome that, going from a suicide attempt in August to the biggest win of your career just two months later in October?
MG: I am proud of all of my fights, but this one, I’m the most proud of. I told a lot of people that are close to me in my circle, that I feel bad for Quinn. Because it’s the first time I ever went into fight where I was “I have nothing to lose”. After everything I went through in the lead up to the fight, nothing was going to break me. The only way he was going to win was if he got lucky and knocked me out, because there was nothing that was going to stop me from my goal, which was beating him. I go from tearing my MCL, to the suicide attempt, to getting out of the hospital, and then everybody saying “no, no, no, don’t fight, you’re injured, your head’s somewhere else”. On top of that, I had to go through 16 hours of therapy a week, as well as cutting all of the weight for the fight, and defend my title.
I told everybody, “No this is the perfect time for me to fight. My head is clear of the fight stuff.” My personal stuff is one thing, but as far as the fight stuff, it’s on like Donkey Kong! I just felt so strong and mentally tough there, I was able to roll it all into a win and defend my title, and I’m very happy with that.
ML: You looked the best you ever have, and you dominated someone you were supposed to have an extremely tough time with.
MG: It goes back to that mind set. This sport is so extremely difficult on the athletes. But my mind set going into that fight was correct. I physically was in shape and strong, but it was that mind set and determination, and all the more reason that made me so proud of this fight. I went against everybody’s beliefs. I think I caught a lot of people off guard with (A) my actions of wanting to take my life, then (B) my reaction of hey, I still want to fight, to (C) performing like I did and beating him. And it’s not like Quinn should be underestimated, that kid is tough! He’s tall, he’s strong, his skills are off the hook with his Jiu Jitsu, and his striking is great. I told him after the fight, hold your head up and work on a couple of little things and you’re going to smash everybody. I see guys like him and Rick Legere and those are the guys that are going to be fighting for titles. Those are guys that are eventually going to have the belt.
ML: So now you go from this extreme low point in your life, to this huge high in defending your title in your toughest fight yet…. Then, things take another turn.
MG: I have mixed feelings about this. Signing the contract with the UFC, I signed a four fight offer from them. It was from a business standpoint, not a personal standpoint. Part of the thing that led me down that route before the Mulhern fight was financial stuff. Some of the numbers that were thrown at me, I just couldn’t ignore it because it would help a lot with everything. On the flip side, the personal side, King Of The Cage has been my home for years. I’ve fought all of my fights here and I’ve always loved everybody here. From Terry (Trebilcock) to (Steve) Inman, to Shingo (Kashiwagi), to yourself, everybody has been so good to me. And to have that home, and to go to the UFC, which I really don’t consider home because I feel like I’m on borrowed time. I’m 35 years and I maybe have a few years left in me, but all my time was with King Of The Cage, and that is what I feel like is my real home.
I just want to go in there and represent and do everybody right in King Of The Cage. Just go in there and get a few wins and follow in the footsteps of other great fighters that came from King Of The Cage. That King Of The Cage can always say they made these guys. I just hope I can follow in those footsteps and everyone can say, “Hey, that’s Joker, that’s our guy, we made him and look at what he’s doing in the UFC, he’s beating everybody.” I want people to be able to say that. So that’s where I’m coming from on that.
I legitimately am raised out of King Of The Cage. There’s no way you could say I did this, I did that. 10 or 11 of my fights are with KOTC. I’m literally out of King Of The Cage and raised through there. You can see the progression of my fights, from my first one against Diego Sanchez and the style to the improvements I made fight by fight.
ML: Your first fight in the UFC is January 11th at UFN 20 in Fairfax, Virginia on Spike TV.
MG: Right, it’s against the King Of The Cage Canadian Welterweight Champion, Rory MacDonald. I just saw him last week and I think he’s a bit bigger than me. He’s a good size kid, he’s got good hands. I know his Jits is really good, he plays in x-guard, and I hear a lot of good things about him, so we’ll see how that fight goes. I’m just going to go in there, guns-a-blazing, and let it all hang out. I’m looking forward to it, Rory’s looking forward to it. He seems like a quiet kid where I’m like a bull in a china shop. No disrespect to him at all, we’re just two different guys. He’s younger, I’m older. He’s good looking, I look like crap.
ML: So, now after you sign this new contract, you have a new sponsor, which is an old sponsor. You’re back with Tapout?
MG: So, like all these things are happening. I win my fight, a couple days later, there’s the UFC contract, and a couple of days after that, ever since the death of Charles (“Mask” Lewis), we all started talking again and it brought us all back together. After that fight and after the signing, Mark Criner, Tim Katz, Dan Caldwell, they were like, let’s do this. I went over there just happy as can be. That I consider home too. Those were my starts… King Of The Cage and Tapout. I was a member of the Tapout crew in the early years and getting that started, putting the word out and helping out with things, then I walked away from there and obviously stayed with King Of The Cage. And now it all came full circle. It was a really special moment.
I shed a few tears in that office, it was pretty cool. Mark said some cool things and Tim and Dan have always been really cool. So I’m really happy with that.
ML: Are you going back into all of the ads as a full member?
MG: I think they’re going to put me in some ads, but not the crew like it was before. You know, not the crew, crew. Down the road, if something happens, and they’re like, let’s make you more of a full time thing instead of a sponsored fighter…. we’ll see where that goes. Maybe after I’m done fighting, lord willing, God willing.
ML: Then you’d really be coming around full circle.
MG: Yeah, sheesh, that would be weird!
There’s just a lot of things happening right now. I’m just thankful. That’s the word I’ve been saying a lot to everybody. Just thankful. Because if I would have been successful that day, I would have never gotten to do the things I have. It’s just pretty special, and I don’t want to let you guys down.
ML: How is the school doing?
MG: The school is great! And it’s kind of weird, because in Lake Forrest, we’ve got within 300 yards of here, James Wilks’ school, Gracie Barra, Alan Goes, and my place, Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy, plus a few other schools. James Wilks and I actually train together. He’ll train here and I’ll train at his place, our guys will platoon back and forth. We are expanding and actually moving about 100 yards away into a building that’s three times as big. We’re going from 3000 square feet, to 9000 square feet. Mark Munoz and Andre Julian are partners, and Mark will be teaching out of there. Mark’s west Coast Wrestlers will be run out of there, Jokers Wild Fighting Academy will be run out of there, and Urijah Faber as well will be doing a co-thing. So, a lot of cool names in the mix and we’re all just tickled pink. Mark and I are in the UFC and we’ve got all this stuff going on.
Bring in some more members, bring in more marketing and stuff like that. Hopefully we can bloom it into more and more academy’s down the west coast, and then into Europe, and then into Antarctica, and maybe Bangladesh! We’ve always wanted to go there and get a camel or two. Two humps. Ok, just kidding about the humps.
ML: Who do you have fighting out of your gym?
MG: We have a bunch of guys that want to get into King Of The Cage, like Mitch Mellotti, 2-0, the kids a freak at 170 pounds. I think he could do really big damage in that division. We’ve got Jim Amormino, Mark Munoz, Tim Mckenzie, Raja Shippen, KOTC veteran Jason Lambert, just to name some. We’ve got a real good core group.
ML: What do you do to relax in your off time from fighting and the school?
MG: Hobbies? I try to keep my mind as far from fighting as possible. I love movies, I like bike riding, the beach when it’s hot out, and hanging out with my wife Nichole and Bishop, my Great Dane. He’s 145 pounds and four feet at the head, he’s huge! He’s 15 pounds more than Shingo. He could hump Shingo! I just try to, especially now, kind of make more me time and keep my mind a little more at ease. If I keep it going like I did before…yeah.
I also collect watches. I love watches, it doesn’t matter if it’s a cheap watch. I have watches from $100 to $10,000. I just love watches, I don’t know why. It started as a kid, and they’re so different. You have automatics, chronographs, dress watches, sports watches and seriously, I’ve got 100’s. I’ve had to weed it down bit recently, because I’ve got nowhere to put them all.
My favorite watch, it’s something that I don’t have in my collection, but I want to put it in there, is a Ulysse Nardin. I want to get one of those, but the one I want is like $40,000. I have two favorites in my collection, one is my Breitling Bentley, and my wife, for this birthday, got me this Transformers watch, ‘cause I love Bumble Bee. It’s even King Of the cage colors… yellow and black. I love black. Everything I do is black, my nails are black, I have a 2010 Camaro that’s black, I feel black inside, I’m even black from the waist up.
I also collect fighters’ personal shirts. The ones they walk out with to the cage. I have shirts from Mark Munoz, Duane Ludwig, and Anderson Silva. I have shirts from guys you have heard of, and shirts from guys that you may not have heard of. But I do collect those as well. I collect fighters’ underwear too, but I don’t want to tell you how I get those.
ML: Anybody you’d like to thank?
MG: Zach Smith, first and foremost. We’ve been friends for a long time. Felt Bikes, they get me in shape for the fights. RBP and Lexani, they handle all my car stuff. Fairtex, Boneheads, Tapout, my new crew, back with them, King Of The Cage, Terry Trebilcock, I love you buddy! Also, Steve Inman, Shingo Kashiwagi, Mike Low, Bike Religion, and just the fans in general. Whether they come up to you at the gyms or at the shows, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have jobs.
ML: Thank you Mike for taking time from your busy schedule to sit and talk with me!