The UFC lightweight division is one of the most stacked in the entire organization. With big-named fighters calling each other out and the title currently being vacant, it is a very exciting time to be a lightweight. However, in between the trash talking and the calling out is one man silently doing his thing and quietly, but furiously, rising up the rankings. That man is Mark O. Madsen.
Madsen came to the UFC back in 2019 and immediately made waves. With a background as an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling, Madsen proved that he was not a single-threat fighter when he knocked out Danilo Belluardo in his debut. Now with four UFC wins under his belt Madsen has left his home country of Denmark to set up shop in Arizona and train under the Fight Ready and Henry Cejudo. Madsen explained this change in an exclusive interview.
“The main reason is I have a fixed desire of winning the gold UFC belt. So, I was working out of Denmark and MMA in Denmark is, it’s growing but it’s still very niche,” Madsen explained. “You have to find the right facilities, the right gym, the right guys, the right train partners, and stuff. It’s just something that I came to the realization that it was just way too hard to build everything up. So I was looking out and trying to find the right people, the right gym to align with my goal of winning a UFC title.”
Madsen found that all, along with his new home in Pheonix, Arizona. The Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler is joining forces with another Olympic wrestler in Cejudo, but surprisingly Madsen said the two have not wrestled together yet. Since retiring from the UFC, Cejudo has quickly become one of MMA’s premier coaches. He has helped out Jon Jones, Zhang Weili, and Deiveson Figueiredo in recent months. Due to the star power in the gym, Madsen and Cejudo not strictly wrestling together is no problem, the amount of positivity coming from this fight camp move is more than enough for Madsen.
“It feels absolutely amazing to have a capacity like Henry Cejudo in the gym. I mean, just yesterday we had Clarissa Shields two time Olympic champion in boxing in the gym working with Henry so yeah, it’s really an environment with a lot of exciting people,” he said. “We had Jiří Procházka in the gym earlier, we had Weili so we just talked about the UFC fight card coming up. I mean, we’ve actually had a couple of the guys fighting on the biggest event, the main event swing by the gym and try to learn from Henry. So yeah, it feels absolutely amazing to have a guy like Henry in the gym. Also, Henry is a former Olympic champion in wrestling, I’m a three-time Olympian in wrestling, so having a guy like Henry with, you know, the same credentials, the same knowledge based on the same platform, you know, the wrestling platform. It’s just so important that I have a guy like Henry that I can spar with.”
Madsen had a long wrestling career before getting to the UFC. As a lifelong athlete, he knows the importance of securing some sort of business opportunities outside of fighting. The career of a professional athlete is a short one and to this fact, Madsen is getting his bearings in other ventures as well.
“I think it’s very important that UFC fighters are able to find alternative revenue income,” he said. “I know a big part of UFC fighters’ income or MMA fighters, in general, is naturally from the fighter purse. But based on my experience, and keep in mind, I’ve only been doing MMA 100% since 2018, so I’m fairly new to the sport and I’m kind of learning as I go, but I would say in my opinion, it’s very important to find alternative ways of providing for yourself and also for our family.”
In this notion, Madsen is teaming up with Vegas Insider to bring unique content to fight fans.
“We’re going to create a lot of hopefully exciting content for UFC and MMA fans in general. So I’ll be working with Vegas Insider as an MMA expert. So giving my insight into the whole community, but also we’re going to create a lot of MMA content,” He explained. “They’re going to produce a YouTube series following my quest in the United States. So I think from my perspective, I think this is a really really interesting partnership because it’s basically going to allow us to create a lot of great and exciting content for the fans to follow.”
There is no doubt that Madsen is doing everything in his power to make it to the top of the lightweight rankings. His last win over Vinc Pichel at UFC 273 turned some heads and now Madsen should be popping up on a few radars going forward. With so much experience in wrestling, it could have been easy to stay complacent and ride his skills to a few UFC win, but that would not be enough for Madsen, he is uprooting his family in order to get the best training possible with one goal in mind, UFC gold.
“Make no mistake this is a UFC title run,” Madsen exclaimed. “I’m moving my whole family to the United States, I am creating a permanent base here in Scottsdale, Arizona to work with the best gym, with the best people, have the best training partners, so this is a title run. I’m here to beat the best in the world and right now I’m just focused on getting better because I know when the chance comes for a top 15 guy I have to be ready.”