Throughout his 33-fight career as a mixed martial artist, Din Thomas has fought some of the best lightweights in the world, battling the likes of Kenny Florian, BJ Penn, and Jens Pulver. But his upcoming fight with former boxing champion Ricardo Mayorga is the first time “Dinyero” will step in the cage against a boxer seeking success in the world of MMA.
The opportunity to fight an athlete looking towards a career in mixed martial arts after a successful boxing career is something that is becoming more and more predominant as the sport of MMA continues to blossom and something Thomas has long been looking forward to. Thomas is not looking past the dominant boxing career Mayorga has had, but “Dinyero” feels that this is an opportunity for him to represent and defend his sport against a man who believes he can succeed in the transition from the ring to the cage.
“Yeah I do (feel a responsibility). I try not to because I don’t really like to pressure on myself for fights. Anytime I’ve ever put a lot of pressure on myself I’ve always underperformed. So I’m trying not to put that pressure on that I’m carrying MMA on my shoulders, even though I am. In the back of my mind I always have that in the back of my head. Not only is this a big fight for MMA and boxing, but the fact that I went on record at UFC 71 and said that I wanted to fight a boxer, now I’ve been granted my wish. Here’s my chance. I really gotta go out there and make a statement.”
While Thomas is motivated to defend the sport, his opponent has supplied him with extra motivation due to his pre-fight actions. At the Shine Fights press conference earlier this year, Mayorga and Thomas exchanged words relentlessly, which caused the tension to escalate tremendously. However, the tension did not reach its pinnacle until Mayorga lit a cigarette and proceeded to blow smoke into the face of Thomas, which led to a physical altercation between the two. Thomas claims he was not angered by the trash talk, or even the cheap shot, but felt Mayorga crossed the line by blowing smoke into his face.
“Like I said, he’s a character,” states Thomas. “That’s part of the fight game. You throw punches. What really affected me more was that he blew smoke in my face. To me, that was insulting. Hitting me, I was like okay. I ain’t stressing that, but him blowing smoke in my face, that’s not every day that you have somebody blowing smoke in your face. I mean, I get hit in the face every day. But blowing cigarette smoke in my face was disgusting. “
Thomas is certainly motivated to defend the sport with a dominant victory over Mayorga, especially after the boxer’s actions at the press conference, and he sees one area where the boxer would not last long. If Mayorga’s takedown defense falls well short of what would be required to stop Thomas’ wrestling, the American Top Team member believes he will make quick work of his opponent if he decides to bring the fight into his world, the ground. However, a quick submission victory is not what Thomas is interested in come May 15.
“(He would last) 20, 30 seconds, if that. If I decide to take it down, it’s gonna be easy. That’s the worst case scenario for him, that I take him down and submit him real fast. If I do that it’s gonna be an easy night for him, and I don’t want it to be an easy night for him. The plan is to punish him for about 14 minutes, and then that last minute knock him out, choke him out, break his arm. I really want to break his arm. He probably ain’t never been in an armbar before, so I’d really like to break his arm. He probably ain’t gonna tap, so if I break his arm he ain’t gonna know what to do except for scream.”
Thomas may have you believe that he is not scared to stand with Mayorga, but if things go south on the feet, he does hold the distinct advantage in wrestling. Unfortunately for Mayorga, the little training he has had in mixed martial arts compared to that of Thomas could prove to be his demise. Thomas has no doubt that if he feels like taking the boxer out of his element, he will be able to do so at will.
“I don’t think he’s gonna be able to stop a takedown,” explains Thomas. “He’s probably a decent athlete. I’m not underestimating him by any means. Regardless, he ain’t gonna be able to stop my type of attack because I just keep attacking until I get what I want. If it comes to the point that I want to take him down, I’m gonna get it. If it comes to the point where I want to punch him in the face, I’m gonna get it. I don’t care what he trains for to make it any different. It’s not gonna help him.”
Many boxers are beginning to make the transition over to mixed martial arts, and while they certainly have the stand up background to be competitive, facing a well-rounded fighter like Din Thomas is certainly not the best match up. Thomas understands this and believes his opponent is in over his head on this one. After all, boxing and MMA are two different breeds.
“That’s what he doesn’t understand. He obviously doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. This is dangerous for him. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss though.”
If Thomas manages to accomplish what he claims he will on May 15 at “Worlds Collide: Mayorga vs. Thomas”, Mayorga’s alleged ignorance will certainly not seem so blissful.