On the back of an impressive victory at Primal FC: Dark Moon Rising, MMA Plus caught up with lightweight prospect Trevor McKenzie and discussed the win over fellow American Jaymes Schultey on Paradise Beach, Phuket.
With McKenzie (2-0) and Schultey (0-3), the New Jersey native was an overwhelming favourite for the mixed martial arts fight and admitted himself that he expected to come out on top.
“Without any disrespect to my opponent, it’s a fight I fully expected to win”, McKenzie stated. Despite his positive frame of mind, the Phuket Top Team athlete was quick to shut down claims of looking past Schultey.
“I absolutely did not look past Jaymes. The last I could find of him was 2013 so I knew nothing about this guy. I like to make a monster out of all my opponents and I put the image in my head that this guy had trained for three or four years to destroy me”, McKenzie said, whilst laughing at the idea.
Trevor insisted that Phuket Top Team were vital to him in terms of competing on the card, especially given the gym is in such close proximity to Primal FC’s Thailand base.
Primal FC, who gathered many talents from the local gyms at PTT, Tiger Muay Thai and AKA Thailand, received nothing but praise from McKenzie who says he would like to fight with the promotion again in the future.
“It was a great show and the people are great too. I met all the guys and they’re great people, even Swick who I briefly met seemed a nice guy. So I’d definitely like to fight there again. The exposure that Swick’s website brought added a lot of pressure but I did the job”.
What seemed a racial slur from commentator Dominique Robinson, referring to McKenzie as a ‘dark chocolate snickers bar’ has been watered down by the fighter who had the following to say on the matter.
“I’ve had a couple of people ask. It was genuinely nothing, I know Dominique personally. I understand how it is deemed racial, it is racial, but I’m friends with him and he was speaking as if he was talking to me. It was a slip. I wasn’t upset at all by it”.
McKenzie elaborated on the immense talent behind the doors of PTT, AKA Thailand and TMT. “Here at Phuket Top Team and the other gyms around, we are overlooked, but there is so much talent. [Rafael] Fiziev for example, killed it in Muay Thai and you saw what he did in the cage”. Fiziev improved his pro MMA record to (2-0) on the same card and looked extremely impressive in the process.
Americans fighting out of Thailand is a rarity, and curious as to why Trevor McKenzie trained and fought in Phuket, the question of what made his decision to move came up. McKenzie told a somewhat daunting and upsetting truth for aspiring fighters in the United States.
“In America, if you aren’t a Golden Gloves boxing winner, you’re not a top 10 wrestler at national level or you aren’t from a certain area, there really isn’t much for you”, McKenzie elaborated. “If you’re not any of those, you’re having to take out two jobs alongside fighting just to live, and that’s rough.
“When I was based in the States during my amateur career, I was in the military at the same time. For me, it wasn’t so bad. I’d tell them whenever I wanted or needed to fight and they’d allow it. But for many Americans, it isn’t easy. Over here in Phuket, Thailand I’m far more relaxed, I can enjoy my fighting”.
McKenzie revealed that he will keep fighting whilst he is happy but insists he has no problem dropping the sport if the pay isn’t feasible.
“For me, this is about making a living”, McKenzie revealed. “If the financial gain wasn’t feasible, I’d happily drop the sport, that’s no problem for me.
“I will keep doing this for as long as I enjoy it and I am happy. But I’ve seen it way too much when guys end up with nothing and I don’t want that. Being 30 and broke wouldn’t make me happy”, McKenzie explained humorously.
Whilst America is undoubtedly the global leader in the world of MMA, it seems the amount of competition is pushing many prospects, such as McKenzie, away from the States. McKenzie has however revealed he wouldn’t shy away from an opportunity to return to his homeland.
“I’m not sure where I’m fighting next” McKenzie explained. “I think Full Metal Dojo have an upcoming card that I’d like to be a part of. I would also welcome an opportunity in the States if it arose”.
McKenzie had previously fought twice under the FMD promotion and said the Primal FC experience was completely different.
“I loved Primal FC. And i’m not going to sit and pick because I have loved both but with Primal there is a different vibe. FMD is also a party but an underground vibe with fans right by the cage. Primal was completely different”.
After racking up three victories with relative ease, McKenzie expressed his desire for a step-up in competition in his future match-ups.
“It’s really hard to get the good fighters here, especially as your record improves. I also want to stay more active as I always have done. But I had two pullouts last year so I can only do so much. Next, I want to take on any lightweight ranked above me in South East Asia”.
McKenzie was quick to point out that he will remain a lightweight and a weight change isn’t on his mind. The one fight at 170lbs in his amateur career was to not let fans down after a pull out. “If anything, with the right diet, I would move down weight. But I don’t want to do that” McKenzie insisted.
Whilst there is no preference for the American in which of the big MMA promotions he would like to move to, he believes that he can reach the top one day.
“I would love to fight in the UFC like everyone. We will see, I don’t like to look into the future. I will just give my all and if I ever lose one day, it will be because the opponent was better, I will never slack in a fight. I can win in any way”, stated the fighter with passion.
“For me, it gives me so much confidence knowing I can go in the cage and win by any means necessary. If a guy cracks me hard enough, I’ll take it to the floor, sometimes I will stand and strike. I’m always looking to strike or on the floor, to look for the armbar, the chokes. In my last fight, I felt the ground was where I won the fight”.