American Top Team is known worldwide for badass fighters and a nose to the mat work ethic. 5-0 Professional Mike ”The Man” King is a perfect example of the upcoming class of those fighters. He has fought in a couple different promotions and has 13 total fights (including amateur fights) under his belt but one thing has remained the same, all this guy does it win! We got the chance to talk to Mike while he was training for his next fight. Take a minute to sit down and read what perhaps the next UFC Superstar Middleweight had to say. You can also follow him on Twitter @Mikethemanking.
Hey Mike thanks for taking the time out of your camp to sit down and talk with us, how’s everything going? Take a minute and tell our readers just how you got into the life of MMA.
King: Thanks for having me guys. I got into MMA because I am drawn to competition. I started wrestling at age 4, played college football and after that I needed something. I was always good at fighting, had some amateur fights my girlfriend said I should peruse it. So I got in the NAAFS tournament in Ohio and won it won. After winning she looked at me and said “yup” and it was one from there and here I am today.
Wow it’s not every day we hear about a girlfriend getting someone into the MMA life, that’s awesome. So you are with a pretty badass team in American Top Team, what drew you to them and what makes them special in your eyes?
King: Man, the quality of coaching is amazing. Having been a competitor my whole life I know how important coaching really is. Coach Ricardo Liborio really takes the time to develop the people there and doesn’t rush them to training. To be successful you need to train with the best and man the level of guys in there no matter what you need to work on is amazing. It was really a big wake-up call the first day when I walked through the door as pretty much a wrestler.
Yeah that team is pretty special. Now looking at your career you really don’t like moving past the first round do you? 8 out of your 12 total fights and 4 out of your 5 pro fights have all ended in the first.
King: Man, the crowd really pushes me and I don’t like to put on boring fights. There is no lay and pray with me. It may come from being an athlete all my life but man I leave my heart on the field or mat every time I am out there. To get to that top level which is the UFC you have to stand out and you can’t do that by being boring. I look to finish by any means and if that means I have to eat a punch of two then so be it, I am looking to finish that fight.
That is it one way to get there Mike, end every fight like you do! What do you think are some of your qualities that would make people want to watch you fight?
King: I don’t put on boring fights, you’re paid to get in and I am going to put on a show. I come out aggressive and like I said there is no lay and pray here.
That would make me want to be there for sure! Now looking at your record you have one blemish as an amateur where you lost via decision. What can you tell us about that fight with Chase Minor?
King: It was my 3rd amateur fight and he was a better wrestler than me. To be honest he laid on top of me doing nothing the entire fight and it was just boring to be in that fight and I am sure it was boring to watch. I don’t know what to tell you except he just held me down. But now I got Steve Mako training with me so that will never happen again.
Yeah Coach Mako is a great guy and an icon in the sport who can fix almost any weakness. Speaking of icons were some of your idols in the world of MMA past and present?
King: Well for past it is without a doubt Matt Hughes. Being from Southern Ohio I really saw him as a great influence and good man. We have very similar style and I just enjoyed watching each one of his fights.
Currently I am a big Chael Sonnen fan, that dude knows how to promote himself and he is down to grind to the end of each fight. Really enjoy watching him.
Very interesting choices, you hold one thing in common with Matt in that you were both champions as he was the UFC champ and you were the North American Allied Fight Series Light Heavyweight Champion, what was it like getting to hold that title in such a short career?
King: Man, it really verified to myself that this is something I can do and I got a great sense of accomplishment obtaining that title. In football I had 21 other starters as part of the team and on the field with me at all times, in MMA I have a great team in the gym but it is just me in the cage. It proved to me that the entire year I trained was worth it and I got the Knockout of the Night award too. It also really opened the door for me to take the next step.
You had a pretty short amateur career going pro after only 7 fights. What have you seen as the major differences from the amateur fight game to the pros?
King: The preparedness simple as that. This is no longer a hobby at this level and no more sliding through training (not that I ever did that). There are true martial artists at this level and the bar is raised on everything. At ATT we put in 6 hours a day training this is a lifestyle and you either do that work or you won’t be successful. Guys like Jimmy Pedro are in the gym kicking by butt and that was the real wake up to the pro level of things, can’t just slide by with 2 or 3 areas of expertise need to be well rounded.
Your 4th fight vs Bruno Silva in the WCMMA was ruled a non sanctioned fight. Can you explain why it was? You caught him in a beautiful arm triangle to win can you talk to us about that as well.
King: I still have no idea how it was a NSF, maybe because it was at a catch weight but no one has ever told me why. As for the fight I landed a great elbow and his hands keep coming up to block so my coaches were yelling to look for it so the next time I did it I saw that arms come up and bang clamped it right in till he started to gargle and the ref stepped in.
On your last fight card there was a WMMA bout, what was it like sharing the card with UMMA fighters and what are your views or opinions on the explosion of WMMA?
King: I think it is absolutely great for the sport, it gets MMA to an entirely new demographic, gets more fans into the sport and the more we draw the better it is for all of us. Plus the more people coming in mean more cash coming in and sponsors and one day we can get this to the money boxers make.
Speaking of more fans and money, fellow ATT fighter Cody Williams told us he is trying out for TUF this season, would you ever want to be on the TUF series? If so who would be your dream coach and why?
King: Funny story I was supposed to be on the last season but I had a fight that Saturday night, they flew me out the next day for the tryouts and found out I was put on medical suspension and I couldn’t try out. Yeah man I would love to be on that show, it exposes you to so many more fans though not only the show but through social media too and that is where the sponsors are. More fans equals more followers equals more sponsors looking at you which gets you cash for training and all of that so yeah I would do it. And to answer dream coach it would be Jon Jones. I got to talk to Derek Brunson who knows Jon and says his work ethic is second to none, he is always in the gym learning and is a real student of the game.
Speaking of fans, watching some of your videos I see you have a crazy group of fans that seem to be willing to run through a wall for you, can you talk to use about your fan base and what makes them so special?
King: HAHAHA yeah they are amazing. A lot of people from my hometown are my biggest supporters but my fan base has such a huge variety it awesome. I get some fans from my girlfriend because she trains and competes in Crossfit and her base follows me and by winning a National Champion in Greco didn’t hurt either haha. But I try to keep it real, I am not the bad guy and I don’t let fighting define who I am as a person. For example I teach a woman’s fitness class and self defense at the local churches. In fact I am teaching a self defense class coming up on June 1st here in Cape Coral, Fl.
Man, that is awesome! We don’t get to hear a ton of great stories like that and how many MMA fighters do a ton in their communities to help not only put MMA in a good light but also better the community! Now looking back on your career, not that it has been very long or near done would you make any changes so far, and what’s next?
King: Nah man, my journey has been relaxed and a good time. I seem to meet people at the right time and at the same level people seem to move on at the right time as well. You know I live by the saying things happen for a reason and I am very happy the way things have turned out so far.
As for what’s next, I am training for my next fight in the CFA where I will face Oscar Delgado on May 24th.
Great and I am sure that will be a great fight he is coming off some impressive wins. Before I let ya go are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?
King: I would like to thank my girlfriend Elizabeth Bland for al her support. Without her this would be impossible. I would also like to thank Ray and Stephen Thompson at Upstate Karate for inviting me into their family and giving me the opportunity to train with one of the best strikers in the UFC. I would also like to thank my sponsors which are Titintech.com, hilerchiro.com, Crossfit Redline, oragersfuel.com, herbalife.com, warpharma.com and thevitaking.com
There you have it fight fans, one of the top guys coming out of ATT who will surley make a splash in a top promotion very soon. Make sure to jump on Twitter and follow him @mikethemanking because he just might be the next big thing! To learn more about him head over to his website mikekingmma.com. Next up the beautiful and dangerous Jessica Dobbs!