ROAD WARRIOR

Being in a house with sixteen unruly, sweaty alpha males can certainly bring out the worst in people. Just ask Mac Danzig, winner of season six of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. “Some people got the idea that I’m grumpy all the time, which isn’t true at all. I love life, I just hated being a rat in a cage for six weeks with a bunch of people that were unprofessional…it was a unique form of torture.”

 

Torture aside, Mac Danzig has no regrets. During the show’s six-week run, Mac defeated Joe Scarola and John Kolosci twice to get to the series finale, where he defeated Tommy Speer at 2:01 of round one via rear-naked choke.

 

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Born January 2, 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, Mac grew up exploring the natural outdoors of the tiny town of Blawnox, Pennsylvania, just seven miles outside Pittsburgh. “I was physically active since day one, with an incredible imagination,” says the 27-year-old, looking back.

 

An only child raised by single mother, Mac recalls, “It was just the two of us for so many years, poor as hell and struggling most of the time.” The hardships included a brief period of homelessness where the two lived with friends, in a hotel or in their car.

 

“Growing up poor…poor by American standards anyway, taught me to appreciate everything I earn and to appreciate freedom. When you’re poor, you don’t have the same freedoms as other people.” Despite their financial struggles, Mac says his mother Gail, “Always did her best for me…she’s been the closest thing to unconditional love I’ve ever known, and she’s always encouraged me to follow my dreams.”

 

The two moved to Virginia, where Mac was one of the few white students in the entire school. Mac says the many distractions he encountered made him a tougher person. He and his mother moved back to Pennsylvania after a few years, where Mac spent the remainder of his teenage years immersed in the skateboarding life, a self-professed complete rebel, hanging out with his older friends as much as possible.

 

It’s hard to imagine Mac Danzig with long hair, learning ollies and kickflips at the local skate park, but that’s how he spent most of his teenaged years. “I was doing my own thing and all my friends were older and already out of high school. I would spend all day skateboarding and filming skateboarding. At night, I was watching skate videos. That was it. I lived and breathed it and pretty much blew everything else off.”

 

Skateboarding was Mac’s passion so much that he quit school in his junior year, and after earning his high school equivalency diploma, hopped a Greyhound bus headed for California to become a professional skateboarder, or to film other skateboarders.

 

He quickly learned the skateboarding community in California wasn’t quite as welcoming as his own back home. No one opened their doors or homes to him, and Mac soon found himself sleeping on a bench at the local Greyhound bus station before finally deciding to cash in his round-trip ticket and return home.

 

THE ROGUE FINDS FOCUS

After being back in Pennsylvania for a few years, Mac decided in 2002 to travel coast-to-coast once again, this time for the love of the sport he had followed since he was 14 years old. “I always loved the fighting sports and I was always interested whenever boxing was on TV or when there was a fight at my school or in the neighborhood…it always  intrigued me,” says Mac.

 

“I saw the first two UFC events and I was hooked. I kept following the sport as it evolved and even though I was doing other things all those years, I knew I would eventually start training…it had to happen.”

 

Because he never participated in sports teams in high school, Mac’s MMA skills were built from the ground up. Mac trained with Rico Chiapparelli and Frank Trigg at R1 Training Center, trained in boxing at Wild Card Boxing Club, and currently trains at Legends Gym in Hollywood.

 

When asked what single event has most molded him as a person, Mac says, “I’ve had so many profound experiences in my life that have shaped me, it’s hard to single out any one, but I’ve learned throughout the years to do everything by myself. I’ve never been handed anything, and I think that has carried over into fighting really well. I think that makes the difference when you’re in the middle of a losing battle. How bad do you want it…you know?”

 

“I’ve been there many times with things a lot tougher than an MMA fight and I’ve pulled through. Fighting is easy compared to some of what’s out there in the world. I personally have no idea how anyone who has had everything handed to them all their lives can be a good fighter at the top level of the sport.”

 

Mac says it’s hard to find everyday heroes, but one who has inspired him is professional boxer Bernard Hopkins, who after being sentenced to prison for 18 years, turned his life around to become a champion boxer and self-made millionaire. “Anyone who does things their own way, from the bottom up, despite what the masses think of them, is in a way, a hero of mine.”

 

During the TUF 6 show, Mac became a vegan hero of sorts. However, he really doesn’t go out of his way to push the subject. “What it means, basically, is that I don’t purchase, use or consume anything in which animals are directly used,” explains Mac. “Almost none of my friends are vegan and it has never been an issue. I don’t tell them what to eat or try to convert them. That’s not my job.”

 

“Whenever somebody asks me, I give them the info they need, otherwise, it’s a personal thing…I’m living proof that you don’t need to eat animals to be a successful athlete. I recover from workouts faster and I went on a 12-fight winning streak when I went vegan, so that should speak for itself.”

 

The winning streak came as Mac fought for smaller shows including the International Fighting Championships and King of the Cage, where he successfully defended the Lightweight Championship title five times. He also fought once in PRIDE, losing to Hayato Sakurai, before appearing as a contestant on TUF6.

 

PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE

In his personal life, Mac is happier than  ever with his longtime girlfriend Angeline, a licensed massage therapist who is studying to become a nurse. Mac says the two locked eyes while she was working as a bartender and he as a bouncer fi ve years ago, and the rest, as they say, is history. Mac reveals that an engagement and marriage are on the horizon.

 

When not training for a fight, Mac enjoys any movies by directors David Lynch, Vincent Gallo, and Quentin Tarantino. He’s also a big fan of music by his namesake’s bands Danzig, Misfits, and Samhain, and admits his secret indulgence is “corny power metal bands” like Manowar. “I love me some Manowar!”

 

Mac is also an accomplished amateur photographer who sells breathtaking nature, landscape and architecture portraits through his website at www.macdanzigphotography.com. The first one to admit being a lover of the outdoors and solitude, Mac says, “I am a loner at heart. Put me in the middle of the forest with the air, the animals, the water, insects, trees…I love being by myself, without having to worry about entertaining anyone else. There is a real meditative benefit to being in solitude.”

 

With little time for solitude, Mac prepares himself for a natural move back down to an already stacked lightweight division. “I’ve always been a lightweight,” Mac says. “There are so many amazing fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division, I’d just like to compete against great fighters who want to have exciting matches.”

 

Appreciative of the long road traveled and storms weathered to get where he is today, Mac says, “Being in the UFC means everything to me. I was never sure if it was actually going to happen all these years, but good things come to those who wait. It’s a great time in the sport right now and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

 

Reality show misconceptions about him thrown aside, the trek in getting to know the real Mac Danzig has indeed been a scenic trip. Love him or hate him, Mac Danzig’s skills and dedication have landed him smack dab in the middle of the most explosive and exciting division in UFC history. If you’re along for the UFC ride with Mac Danzig, you’d better

strap on your safety belt and pray there’s a grab bar on the passenger side, because this road warrior is ready to drive

Copyright © 2013 FIGHT! Magazine | Contact Us