“It was a long road. People think to reflect on the time of the fight, but not the journey that it took to get there. It’s been a long, long road.”
As he found himself on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, with a $1 million paycheck, and the new PFL middleweight champion, Louis Taylor would rather talk about the journey that led him to the glory. While he made waves for his :33 second knockout of Abusupiyan Magomedov on New Year’s Eve, Taylor spoke to MyMMANews.com about the journey that got him to the middleweight title and how $1 million isn’t the end, it’s just half the battle for him.
“Sometimes when people talk about religion they say never doubt God’s plan. I never doubted my skills and my belief in what I can accomplish in this sport, other people consistently do. So many younger fighters have shot past me and I never hated on any of them, I just sat back and waited my time. I’ve been steady waiting and knowing that at some point, it’ll be my time and finally, all the patience has paid off. I’ve got the belt that I’ve been searching for, for so long.”
Even in such a short fight, Taylor found learning lessons in what was the highest moment of his career to date. While he was surprised by how quickly the fight ended, Taylor said he used lessons learned from his fight against David Branch to help him secure the knockout championship victory over Magomedov.
“My fight IQ is not the best, I’ll say that. I was out IQ’ed by David Branch, that’s what that fight was, he got the better of me mentally not physically. I learned a lot from that fight in learning how to be more patient. I really had a point to prove in that fight, everyone thought David was going to beat me so I really wanted to knock his head off but when you look for the knockout like that, you usually don’t get it. In this fight, I took my time. If you can pay attention to those 33 seconds, I was just completely relaxed in there and when I did decide to finally pull that trigger, I took his head off.”
A staple of the Chicago Fight Team, Taylor takes more pride in his coaches and training partners because he’s turned everyday people into fighters. While he was never one to travel around the world to big gyms and leave Chicago, Taylor says he appreciates all of his coaches, even though they can be incredibly frustrating.
“Roberto Ramirez, Nicasio Sanchez, I’ve been over at Chicago Fight Team turning average people into professional fighters. I turn the people who walk into the doors of our gym, into the best training partners that I can find. I never had the money to fly around the world and be in these famous gyms and train who the who’s-who so I had to do the best I could with turning the blue-collar people who just love MMA into my training partners.”
“My coach Roberto Ramirez has one of the best hearts in the sport. Herc Hayes is one of the biggest assholes, with the best fight knowledge in the city. Belal Muhammed is a tenacious person who keeps me grounded. Nicasio, loves the BJJ game and he keeps me up to point on what’s trending at the moment. I have a great team around me, each bring a different perspective. I can’t stand each one of them a little bit in someway, I don’t have a bunch of yes men. We agree to disagree a lot, but that keeps me sharp.”
Louis Taylor has always made his fights and his career more important than himself, making it a point of his to preach the message of putting the guns down in Chicago, calling for more action to stop gun violence in his home city.
“Put the guns down is the message. It wasn’t really for the people who don’t know me, it’s for the people that do know me. If they want to look me up and they want to get to know me, I want put the guns down to be the message when they do look me up. I can’t wait to get my foundation and my platform so I can get the message going. I just want to really influence these kids to show them that there’s other ways to be successful rather than just basketball, football, or baseball. I just want to open their eyes. I feel like a lot of urban kids only see one way out, I just want to let them know that there’s more than one way out of the hood.”
Ending 2018 as the PFL middleweight champion and the recipient of $1 million doesn’t mean the journey is complete for Taylor. As he comes into 2019, he would like to complete the second-half of his journey.
“This one was about taking caring of business. In 2019, $1 million isn’t what it used to be. I’m going to need this year’s check to be as fulfilling as the 2018 check. For me, I’m all about doing this thing again. It’s not time for me to take my foot off the gas, it’s time for me to double down and dig deeper, and work harder.”
Louis Taylor has never made his journey or his career about himself, and even with $1 million and the middleweight title in his possession, his message to everyone is do what he did, and embrace the journey.
“Embrace the journey and follow your dreams, never give up on yourself because the world has nothing for you.”
Achieving the highest reward in PFL’s first season doesn’t mean Louis Taylor has accomplished all that he’s set out to do. The $1 million paycheck will only go so far, the title is now his, and now he knows that in 2019, he’d like to run it back and do it all over again. It’s more rewarding that way.