ONE Championship athletes Eddie Alvarez, Mehdi Barghi, and Tyler McGuire spoke to the media ahead of the much-ballyhooed event, ONE on TNT 1. It emanates from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, April 7th.
The main card goes live on TNT at 10 p.m. eastern time. In addition, the main card will be available live on Bleacher Report and the B/R app at 10 p.m eastern time. You can catch the prelims on B/R App, B/R Live, Bleacher Report, B/R Live YouTube, and B/R MMA Twitter at 8:30 p.m. eastern time.
Below are excerpts from my Q&A with Tyler McGuire.
ONE on TNT 1
Curious about your thoughts heading into this match. Just because it seems like with this welterweight division in particular there’s maybe more of a nebulous kind of contendership hierarchy.
Has ONE Championship communicated to you if this is a title eliminator bout for Kiamrian Abbasov’s belt or has nothing been specified in that regard or in a broader sense, where the winner gets in the contendership hierarchy in general?
“They haven’t said anything to me directly. I’ve been told in the past that before I fought Agilan (Thani) that I was one or two away from being considered for the title shot. If you look at some of the social media things that ONE is posting and saying that this is potentially the bout. I don’t really know who else would be ahead of me. Especially if I get a win.”
“I know there’s some young up and comers, that have one or two wins that have looked really impressive. But I think with just a pure strength of schedule and if you look at MMA math right. Like who has a win over (Kiamrian) Abbasov? Luis Sapo Santos. I beat Sapo right. and then obviously (Kiamrian) Abbasov beat Zebaztian (Kadestam) then obviously Zebaztian (Kadestam) beat me. So I think that me getting a shot at the title would actually be a nice way to look at that MMA math and see how that works.”
The comeback trail between the last couple of fights here. I’m noticing there’s that two-year gap between the bouts. I imagine some of that is also informed by the pandemic and some of the hurdles that created.
But what was it like to not only get back after being out of competition for a couple of years but also to compete in a framework whereby there were no fans in attendance?
“It’s weird you know. The last time I fought I was in front of the stadium filled with 20,000 fans and they’re going crazy. It was a title fight and the atmosphere. But I think any fighter will tell you that the first loss is always the toughest. It was even tougher because I knew going into that fight. So the military has been been very supportive of me and they allowed me to kind of put off some training I had to do. It’s block training so I couldn’t really break it up. So I knew going into that fight I was gonna have a 10-month layoff.”
McGuire vs Magomedaliev
“So taking that first L and then having to wait 10 months. Well, I thought it was going to be ten months to get it back. Then obviously I was trying to fight like March or February of 2020 and then obviously the worldwide pandemic hit. So then had to wait then our gyms are shut down. The whole mess with all that. So I would say vindication, the fact that I still got it if you will.”
“Because obviously, Agilan (Thani) is one of the top-ranked welterweights as well. We both knew that he was trying to get back into title contention and really just needed that fight. You know my opponent got changed like three times and my camp got extended a month. That was the most adversity-filled camp and fight week. Really that I’ve ever had in my career. With pushing things back, three different opponents, food poisoning. That just really showed me that I could just push through anything. So that’s kind of reinvigorated me to show that I do still belong here.”
Just as a quick follow-up with that broader timeline you’re talking about there, was there any point where frustration was settling in with the myriad of roadblocks that were popping up?
Or is there a certain composure that sets in from that kind of military mindset that you’ve been talking about through the scrum here today?
Tyler McGuire vs Raimond Magomedaliev
“There was a great deal of frustration, but to your point, the composure is what carried me through. Discipline is obviously a strong part of the military. I got to the point, especially with my fight getting pushed back twice. My camp was extended and I’m working 17-18 hours a day, I’m not seeing my family.”
“By the time I got to my third opponent, I wasn’t even sure if I was still gonna fight. I was just so frustrated, I was hurt on my elbows, my joints. Being 35 now, well 34 at the time, going through that three-month camp. But the rigors of that, like that wears on you. And mentally again with the family. But luckily I’ve got a great support system. My strength coach, my physical therapy coach, and my teammates.”
“They were there for me on those lower points along with my wife. And then the military as well. But yeah that composure is what just kept me through. And the other thing is I wanted to show my daughter, I took my first loss as a professional. You lose that aura of invincibility, but I wanted to come back and get back on the horse and get that win again. So one day when I talk to my daughter and I’m trying to encourage her to do whatever she wants to do. When she experiences failure, that I have something to draw on as an example.”