Already the owner of Joker's MMA in Lake Forest, CA, former KOTC Welterweight Champion Mike Guymonis now preparing to open Gracie Fighter OC in Orange County, CA. Bleacher Report recently had the pleasure of speaking with Guymon about his new gym, his recent retirement and the possibility of a return to fighting.
"[Retirement from fighting] is going great. I love not having the stress of fighting, but it's hard because I still want to fight. I feel like the medication I'm on is forcing me to retire. I feel like I've got better all-around skills. My wrestling, my striking, my jiu-jitsu just all feels so much better and I'm doing so well in the training room. To not be able to go out there and display it is hard for me to do."
"Yeah, I'm having second thoughts.I'm sure if someone came up with a good offer I probably would take it. I'm definitely open to it. It's just frustrating knowing your talent has gotten better, you're progressing in everything and then just not being able to go out and display it."
"It was my first fight (for the UFC). They were staging me to go out and everybody kind of knew my story. Here's this kid who tried to commit suicide, took him 10 years to get here, had a hard life and whatnot about depression. All the guys backstage knew that and all those different camps. When they called my name, all the fighters in the room and all the UFC staff that was in the area all stood up and started clapping. I wanted to cry my eyes out right there. Obviously, going to a fight I'm not going to do that, but that was probably one of the biggest moments I've ever had in mixed martial arts. It just meant a lot to me."
"Before, I was splitting duty between teaching and training guys and training myself for the fights. Since I've stopped fighting, I've put so much into training and teaching guys. I can focus and I've never been able to do that ever since I started this whole thing. I get to do that here at Gracie Fighter OC with Jason [Manly], a good friend of mine, and I am pumped and excited about it. I know Jason is just chomping at the bit. He's really excited about it and it's going to be fun."
Guymon's original gym, Joker's MMA, will remain in operation with the opening of Gracie Fighter OC. Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio presented Guymon with the opportunity to open the new gym in Orange County, which Guymon viewed as an opportunity to repay Manly for being there for him in the past.
"We've got everything. We've got a full ring, we've got an Octagon, we've got the mat space, we've got gym. Within the locker room, we have a washer and dryer and dry sauna. We've got just like a full fighting gym and we love it."
"They're going to be there this Saturday, Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, Daniel Roberts, who I fought in UFC 121. Can't wait to punch him in his face [laughs]. No, we're friends. All the guys, we're going to be training. We're going to have one big happy family. We want all the best fighters in here. We just want to be smashing faces, training technique, working out hard and building better fighters."
"I know what MMA has done for me. I know how much it has impacted my life. I know how rewarding it's been and it's just an accomplishment how it feels. Whoever wants to fight, I will do whatever I can to get them that same feeling, to get them those victories, to just get them in there and show them the same thing I got. I want to see a big smile on their face, I want them to get in there and get those 'Ws' and show what they can do. That's what being a coach, for me, is about is just putting that smile on their face and getting them to their goals and getting the stuff that they deserve. All my guys that I have training are just great guys, great individuals. They don't go out on streets, not trying to punk anybody and they try to good for other people. To see a smile on their face, to see them make money and get the respect and recognition they deserve, it just means the world to me. It's very rewarding."
"It got so bad for me where I tried to commit suicide. Now, I'm using my support system, using my friends and not trying to be a stubborn a-hole and do it all on my own. I've got friends like Jason Manly, who will come along and pick you up. That's why I'm going to be there for my guys. When they have bad times, I'm going to be there through thick and thin, and they know that."
Gracie Fighter OC will hold its first training session on June 12, 2011 at 12 pm PT. For more information, check out the gym's website here.