Mark O. Madsen was pushed to his absolute limit in his most recent appearance, but he ultimately kept his undefeated record intact. He believes the experience he gained in that split-decision win over UFC Hall of Famer Clay Guida was valuable as he focuses in on UFC gold.
"I and my family had to overcome a lot of stuff coming into the last fight," Madsen told The Underground. "That being said, I think it was a valuable fight. I learned a lot on a technical level, on a strategic level, like the Fight IQ in that fight. I think one of the things that people back home in Denmark had been been wanting to see from me is the standup, is the striking, and I haven't been standing up that much in my fights. But I mean, I got to show a little bit of boxing, a little bit of standup in that fight and, I mean, I did have COVID leading up to that fight. I tested positive like, I mean, right up to the fight, actually, and everybody knows Clay Guida, right? He's a cardio bunny.
"I mean, going into a fight like that against a killer like that, a guy that is known for just, you know, keep coming, keep pushing forward like a fighter with a real wrestling mindset – I mean, I took a lot away from that fight. I have the gas tank. I'm able to follow the gameplan, and foremost, I think, what I worked on up to that fight actually paid off."
Madsen is being a bit modest when he says his family "had to overcome a lot of stuff." Prior to the Guida fight, Madsen's wife was diagnosed with the debilitating autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis, and the three-time Danish Olympian had a big decision to make when it came to his MMA career.
"In 2021, we had a lot of things going on," Madsen said. "My wife was diagnosed with MS. We sat down, and we decided, 'Do we want to do this 100 percent, or should we call it a day?' So we moved out (to Arizona). I moved my wife and my family out here. We're doing this."
Madsen said his wife's condition is stable at the moment, which has allowed him to focus 100 percent on his MMA career. One of the sport's most decorated wrestlers, Madsen has a phenomenal martial arts base from which to build, but under the tutelage of the Fight Ready MMA team in Scottsdale, he believes he's improving each and every day.
Madsen (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will get his next opportunity to evaluate his progress at UFC 273, which takes place Saturday, April 9 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. There, he'll face veteran lightweight Vinc Pichel (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) on the night's early prelims, which stream live on UFC Fight Pass ahead of the night's ESPN+ pay-per-view main card.
"From Hell" Pichel is known for his intensity, and Madsen welcomes the matchup.
"I think it's an exciting matchup," Madsen said. "I mean, this fight might be two of the physically strongest lightweights in the UFC division clashing on April 9, so I think it's an interesting matchup. It's certainly an interesting challenge. He's, as you say, a tough fighter. He's he's able to move around and I mean, honestly, what more can I wish for? I am in the UFC to fight the best in the world, and I certainly think Vinc Pichel qualifies. I mean, he's up there. He's bringing the A-game.
"I know that he moved out to Factory X, a gym that I respect. He's being coached by Marc Montoya, another coach that I'm respecting, so man, it's exciting, and listen, I feel confident coming into this fight. I feel confident in the preparation that we have done down here. I mean, this is fighting. Anything can happen. All it takes is a split of a second, and that can lead to an outcome of the fight, but honestly, I'm here to compete, and you know, April 9, let's go."
Should Madsen extend his unbeaten record once again, he could potentially break into the UFC's official lightweight rankings and begin to really make an assault on the division's title picture. At 37 and with a lifetime of competition under his belt, Madsen believes he's in better condition now that ever before, and he's intent on gaining UFC gold.
"I'll keep pushing from here – that's what matters," Madsen said. "The goal is set. I am on a mission for gold, absolutely – and, you know, when you open up an adventure book, it might be, you know, a fairy tale. Everything is like a fairy tale. I know life is tough. This is not going to be like a journey where everybody is giving me roses and everything is going to smell nice and everything. This is life.
"MMA mimics life. Anything can happen in life, as well as MMA. What will happen from here is I'll keep pushing. I'll keep developing. I'll keep grinding my ass off. You know, I am a three-time Olympian, and I don't care who they put up there. I'm going to do my absolute best to beat the sh-t out of the guy that they put up there."
To see the full interview with Madsen, check out the video above.