On the surface, the story that King of the Cage welterweight champion Mike “The Joker” Guymon was offered a four-fight deal last week by the Ultimate Fighting Championship would hardly seem like something major in the big picture.
But for Guymon, who made two suicide attempts on Aug. 11 that made local news in Orange County, where he lives and owns a training center, the news couldn’t have been any bigger.
“I cried for about three hours straight,” Guymon said after his agent, Chris Palmquist, convinced him he wasn’t playing a joke on him and that his 10-year dream of fighting on the big stage had been fulfilled.
“Usually when somebody new gets an offer, it’s to fill in a slot on three weeks notice with a specific opponent in mind. I was offered a good deal, and without a first fight in mind. I called my wife, but couldn’t get a hold of her. I called (UFC fighter and training partner) Mark Munoz.”
Munoz, hearing his friend cry on the phone, feared the worst, because the memories of two months ago were so vivid, and rushed over to Guymon’s house, not fully realizing the news this time was good.
Guymon (11-2-1), 35, was a huge fan of the sport and spent years working and traveling with the Tapout crew to shows while also fighting once or twice a year on smaller shows. He finally committed to being a full-time fighter last year, and has won his last five fights, all by stoppages.
Going to UFC was a dream of Guymon thought would never happen since he’d been fighting for 10 years, and everyone in UFC already knew him since he was backstage at so many shows during his days working for Tapout from 2001-07. It became a running joke where people would talk to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, and give him the line, “Joker’s 170,” noting he’s available for welterweight competition.
He noted he had a nice home, was running his MMA gym business, and that he knew people from the outside thought he had what looked to be a great life. But the pressures of the business and frustrations of suffering a torn MCL earlier this year led to his being depressed with no outlet to vent
. Those pressures came to a head when he signed divorce papers, separating him from his wife of six years and girlfriend of 11 years, Nicole.
“On the outside, everything looked great,” said Guymon, who runs the Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy in Lake Forest. “I was always smiling, but I was hiding behind my smile. We had tons of business but I had all the stress of the business. I was dealing with everybody else’s problems on a daily basis and had no outlet for my own problems. There was the stress of paying bills. My wife was out of work. The night before, we were filling out divorce papers.”
But he credits his wife, with whom he has reunited, along with Jim Amormino of the Orange County sheriff’s department, who he credits with keeping him alive through a harrowing situation.
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