Michael Guymon is known as “The Joker,” but until recently his laughter masked deep-seated problems.
The daily pressures of running a gym and the grind of a decade-long journey through mixed martial arts competition weighed heavily on the King of the Cage Welterweight Champion and a troubled marriage nearly drove him to suicide.
Laughing, he says, “I hate to laugh but that’s just how I was thinking. I’m like, ‘I’m gonna write this note, I’m gonna get my .45 and I’m gonna pop myself in the head and that’s it.’ Fortunately, my wife stepped in and helped prevent that instance.”
Undeterred, Guymon left to commit “suicide by cop” before being talked down by Orange County Sheriffs who put him on a 72-hour hold at a crisis center. With a scheduled title defense just weeks away, those close to Guymon assumed he would cancel the bout.
“I get out of the hospital, everyone’s saying, ‘Don’t fight! Don’t fight! You have a torn MCL. You just tried to blow your head off. You’re not in the right frame of mind.’” says Guymon, who injured his knee a week before his meltdown.
“I said, ‘Nope. This is the best time for me to fight. I’m so focused and determined. Nothing’s going to stop me from defending my title and smashing this guy.’ Sure enough, I go out there and beat the guy.”
Relatively unknown outside of the California fight scene, “Joker” is a longtime associate of the Tapout crew, having vetted up-and-comers on behalf of the company for potential sponsorships. He runs a gym, shaping fighters such as Mark Munoz. But his own potential was unfulfilled until the UFC came calling four days after he stopped Quinn Mulhern to retain his KOTC belt.
“I took the road least traveled I’d say,” he says. That road leads to Canadian King of the Cage champ Rory McDonald at UFC Fight Night 20 on Jan. 11. Guymon is happy to be in the Big Show, but he’s not satisfied. Not yet.
“I went through the darkest part to get to the light and it just feels that much more meaningful to me,” says Guymon. “I just want to keep riding that wave.”
The fighter may crack jokes about his breakdown but “The Joker” is deadly serious about how important this fight is. “This whole experience, this whole trip that I’m on here means so much me to me,” he says. “Win or lose this fight, I’ve won.”
Guymon spoke with Fox Sports’ Inside the Cage on Reno, Nevada’s 1450 AM, hosted by Greg Delong with co-host Danny Acosta.