Empire Fighting Championship 1, this Saturday, March 30th, from Biloxi, Mississippi, will feature the mixed martial arts debut of Josh Mayo. Fighting out of Port City MMA, Mayo will take on Evan Fremin in an attempt to begin his promising young career with a positive push that will hopefully one day elevate him to the pros. Even though his original opponent pulled out only one week away from go time, Mayo believes that he has the tools to take on Fremin and, along with teammate Mike Barnett, represent Port City MMA with a victory this Saturday night. In this interview, I ask Josh about his beginnings in mixed martial arts, and what he’s doing this week to prepare himself for his amateur debut.
Josh, where are you from, and what you you into fighting?
I’m from Mobile, Alabama. This will be my first fight ever. This will be my debut. I’ve been training about a year and a half. I had a friend of mine training at a place called Slaughterhouse, it was kind of an underground fight society thing. It was literally a hole-in-the-wall place, in a warehouse with gym mats and stuff. There was an MMA program there, and later it changed into Port City. So, I was curious to do it, and I went in and trained MMA and jiu jitsu. Mixed martial arts has a lot to do with so many other understandings of life, so I fell in love with it, and I went after it.
How old are you?
Did you do any wrestling or other sports in high school?
I played football as a punter.
No combat sports or anything like that?
No, well I did karate when I was like five, but nothing other than that. I was homeschooled for most of my life, until my junior year. And, I told my dad that I wanted to be a punter. I went in one year and was kicking like 82 yard punts and stuff.
“When you’re given an opponent on short notice, you are a fighter, this is what you do. You just go out there and do it.”
What division do you fight in? Have you started your weight cut yet?
I fight at Featherweight. I usually walk around at 152, so I’ll do some water loading, maybe get into the sauna. I’ll follow my coach’s instructions and I should be alright.
So, your opponent for this week has changed. Do you know anything about Evan? Have you watched any video on him?
I know nothing about him, he’s a last-minute replacement. The guy that I was originally fighting pulled out of the fight a week before it happened. And, this guy doesn’t have a Facebook account or anything. All I know about him is that he’s from Mid City MMA in New Orleans, that’s about it.
Does that affect you at all, not knowing anything about your opponent?
Well, I mean Mike Tyson once said, ‘Everyone’s got a plan until you get punched in the mouth.’ You’ve just got to adjust in the fight, listen to your coaches, and go from there. When you’re given an opponent on short notice, you are a fighter, this is what you do. You just go out there and do it.
What are you doing between now and the fight?
Just some meditation, stretching, that’s about it.
” If you’re great at one style, then you can be combated by another one. But, if you’re well-rounded in all of them, jiu jitsu, striking, wrestling, you can connect them all together.”
Are you training at all?
Just a little bit, nothing too heavy.
You mentioned meditation, what got you into that?
One of my friends was a D1 athlete and he got me into it. It’s soothing and calming for the mind, good for focus and visualization.
What’s a typical week of training like for you?
I train five days a week, Muay Thai on certain days, jiu jitsu, wrestling, two to three hours a day.
What’s your favorite thing to train?
Man, I like combining all of them to the best of my ability. If you’re great at one style, then you can be combated by another one. But, if you’re well-rounded in all of them, jiu jitsu, striking, wrestling, you can connect them all together.
“Once that door shuts, and you’re looking at the other person, it’s very private.”
And where are you training? Are there any fighters there that you’d like to shout-out?
I train out of Port City MMA with people like Blake Singley, Brock Weaver, and Mike Barnett.
Mike Barnett is fighting on the same card with you. Is that something that just came up or did your team schedule it that way?
No, it just came about. My coach came in the gym and was like, ‘hey, I’m looking to put you on this card,’ and I was like, ok, let’s go. It wasn’t planned that I’d be fighting with my teammate, my coach just asked, and we went from there.
What do you like most about fighting?
It’s a very curious sport. It’s very individualistic. You do have a team, but it’s your job to execute. Once that door shuts, and you’re looking at the other person, it’s very private, and may the best man remain standing.
What was it like the first time that you did some sparring? What was going through your mind?
I barely remember, it was more like primal instinct. Someone’s trying to beat you, and you’re trying to beat them. It was like going to war.
“Tune everything else out and focus on those nine minutes that I have ahead of me and executing in those nine minutes. Throughout that day, nothing else will matter.”
What are your short-term goals, and what are you doing to help you get there?
I’m going to class, getting the mat time, getting the volume of training. I want to execute at the fight, learn from what I did wrong, what I did right, adapt and learn. I want to try and gain as much knowledge as I can. On May 25 I’ll be fighting in Mobile, so after the fight this weekend I’m going back to the gym, getting that mat time, getting the reps that I need to get.
“Fighting provides us a stage to help and provide for people. Yes, it is physically violent, but really, it gives you the platform to be able to help, and make people’s lives grow and be successful.”
What do you have planned for Saturday before you enter the cage?
I’ll get up in the morning, eat, meditate. From there, spend time with my coaches and my friends, and focus; tune everything else out and focus on those nine minutes that I have ahead of me and executing in those nine minutes. Throughout that day, nothing else will matter.
I’ll kiss my loved ones goodbye, and prep mentally. All of the physical work at that point will have been done. I’ll rest, relax, cool down, try not to be tense, and just go out and execute without letting the spotlight and the crowd get my emotions, or get under me and affect me. I want to be cool, calm and collected. I want to be there mentally tuned in.
When you hang up the gloves and you’re looking back on your career, what would you have had to accomplish in order to think of it as a success?
Well, Muhammad Ali was great, not because of what he did inside the ring, like beating Joe Frazier and George Foreman, but what he did outside of the ring, and how he impacted his community and other people. Fighting provides us a stage to help and provide for people. Yes, it is physically violent, but really, it gives you the platform to be able to help, and make people’s lives grow and be successful. It’s not all about knocking out a person and beating his face in. Yes, it’s competitive, and yes, when that cage closes, we are going to try and kill each other. But, that’s not how I will judge my success.
Do you have anything that you’d like to plug? Would you like to shout-out your school/coaches?
I’d like to shout-out Arron Shirazi, Blake Singley, Brock Weaver, Port City MMA, CD and Brenda Williams, Mobile MMA Club and Marcus Graham. Big shout-out to those people, they’ve really helped me get along in my journey of martial arts.