“I’m just a guy who goes out there and fights”
A fighter’s life is often nomadic.
From the onset of their professional career, a fighter can bounce from city to city, looking for new challenges, all in hopes of finding the stability of a solid payday and legitimacy as a mixed martial artist. Ultimate Fighter alum Cody McKenzie is currently in the midst of this journey, and he’s loving every minute of it.
“I’m all over the place, man. I’m kind of a nomad when it comes to training. I recently moved to Vegas and have been training with Team Throwdown a lot. They have a lot of great kickboxers there, and overall it is a really good gym. I’ll train with anybody though. I train differently from most guys where I primarily do a ton of sparring.
“I’m starting to do more all-around work to help my cardio because I have run into a few cases where I wasn’t in the best shape and lost because of it. There will be no more of that; I’m taking my overall game more seriously. I’m working my ass off and my goal is to become a world champion.
“Being in Vegas, you can always find a ton of different people to spar with,” continued the 23-year-old Guy Fawkes lookalike. “That has been a huge part of my development because I’m constantly getting different looks and learning new things. I’m a high pace fighter, so anybody who catches me in the gym knows they are in for a good workout. There are so many tough guys in town and, as most people know, there is always somebody you can fight in Vegas.”
The hirsute Alaskan is also on a mission to prove his skills are legit.
After shaking up the tournament on The Ultimate Fighter, McKenzie now looks to prove there is a place for him in the UFC. To do so, he will have to get past Brazilian submission specialist Vagner Rocha at UFC Fight Night 25 this weekend.
“I feel great about this fight. I’ve looked at Rocha’s record and he’s never been finished. Since I’m a finisher, I think that makes it an exciting match-up. Out of all of my fights, I’ve only had one go to a decision. I know that different styles sometimes make things difficult, but I’m definitely looking to go out there and finish him. It’s a challenge for me and I love it.
“I’m bringing some mean stand-up and pretty much staying away from his ground game. I know that is pretty much giving up my game plan, but I think it is pretty obvious anyway. Rocha is a great jiu-jitsu guy and everybody counts me as a ground guy, but as I said before-people can think what they want. I know what I am. I know what I’m coming in with that night, and I’m coming in to finish him.”
McKenzie’s has an “everyman” quality about him that has quickly made him fan favorite, a status he credits to his opportunity to spend time inside the Ultimate Fighter house.
“I appreciated the experience; I was able to gain a lot of fans from being on the show. The fans have been great. I love the fans; they’re awesome. Whenever they see me, they hoot and holler, so that makes me feel good. One of the biggest reasons I fight is to entertain the fans. I go in there to scrap, lay it all on the line,and I think that is why the fans appreciate me.
“I’m just a normal guy who goes in there and lets it all go. I’m not some big athlete or someone who comes from a decorated NCAA background; I’m just a guy who goes in there and fights.”
Where most fighters carry an athletic build and a pumped-up persona into the cage, McKenzie’s attributes couldn’t be more different. He caroms about with a devil-may-care attitude, but when the cage doors close, he’s all business.
“I don’t worry too much about how other people view me or what they think about me; I just always do my thing. I’m me 100% and I wouldn’t change that for anybody. I don’t sugarcoat anything and that’s who I am. I don’t worry if other people don’t think I’m a tough guy because once they’re in that cage with me, they’re in for a fight no matter what.
“If anyone takes me lightly, they’re getting beat up. If they think I’m some reality show weakling then they are in for a rude awakening. People can perceive me as a guy who was on a reality show, but I will fight anyone in the world, anywhere, at any time. I’m a fighter and that’s what fighters do.”