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5 Oz. Exclusive: Mike Massenzio plans to apply constant pressure during UFC debut

FiveOuncesOfPain.com broke the news several weeks ago that top East Coast prospect and former IFL middleweight Mike Massenzio had signed a four fight contract with the UFC and that he’s set to debut against Drew McFedries at UFC Fight Night 15 on Sept. 17.

Massenzio’s bout is currently slated to make the Spike TV portion of the card, which will be telecast as a lead-in for the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” It’s somewhat ironic that he’ll be debuting during a TUF premiere night considering he was recruited to be a part of the cast for TUF 7. But the UFC wasn’t alone in their desire for Massenzio. He has been on the radar of talent evaluators for several national organizations after amassing a 10-1 record in MMA following a standout wrestling career in Junior College.

Last spring, Massenzio made the decision to leave the regional ranks. However, some industry insiders were surprised upon hearing that Massenzio had chosen to go with the International Fight League. With the IFL having ceased operations, Massenzio was given a second opportunity to join the UFC’s middleweight division.

Massenzio recently granted FiveOuncesOfPain.com an interview where he discussed the reasoning behind turning down the TUF 7 invite and eventually signing with the IFL. During our exclusive interview, he not only spoke about his career moves but also talked about how competing for the UFC will be the realization of a dream; fighters he looked up to while being a fan; what he has planned for McFedries; whether he’s ready for a shot at Anderson Silva; and much more.

Sam Caplan: I first wanted to congratulate you on signing a four-fight contract with the UFC. It’s a tremendous honor.

Mike Massenzio: Definitely. It’s a great feeling. I’ve been waiting my whole life. This is a lot of peoples’ dreams.

Sam Caplan: With the UFC having been a dream of yours are there any fighters you’ve enjoyed watching or have looked up to while watching in recent years?

Mike Massenzio: I love GSP. I love St. Pierre. That’s a style that I like: constant pressure. And just mixing it up and not just doing one thing and being able to go from one thing to the next. You can never know what he’s going to do next so I’ve enjoyed watching him. And Wanderlei Silva is my all-time favorite.

Sam Caplan: After having spoken with sources in the past, I know this wasn’t the first time that the UFC has come after you. Is it true that you were invited to be a participant on the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter?”

Mike Massenzio: Yes, it’s true.

Sam Caplan: What was behind your decision for not going on the show:

Mike Massenzio: At the time I had just fought three fights in a row in September, October, and November. I just needed a little time to rest and relax. I was doing my thing and doing well and I felt I needed to take some time off and rest before getting ready to go.

Sam Caplan: Around that same time I had heard from a source that EliteXC tried to get you to sign and had plans for you to debut on the 1/25 ShoXC show. Is that true as well?

Mike Massenzio: There’s some truth to that. My manager is Gary Marino (of GVM Sports Management) and we were keeping in touch. He handles all of that stuff. But yes, that was a scenario that was run by me at that time.

Sam Caplan: So you had all of these promotions coming after you and around that time you made the decision to sign with the IFL. What was behind the decision to go with the IFL as opposed to other promotions that had approached you?

Mike Massenzio: The IFL was a good step up. It was a big step up from what I was doing. I would have love to have been on (TUF 7) but there were just a couple of other things I was trying to take care of. I had to take care of a couple of injuries here and there and like I said, I really wanted to get some rest after having fought three times in a row. But I have a good bunch of people around me and they had advised me that the IFL was a step in the right direction.

Sam Caplan: When the IFL canceled its August show and basically suspended operations, did you receive an immediate release from your contract?

Mike Massenzio: I’m not really too sure. Gary handles all of that. He takes care of all the inside work.

Sam Caplan: I spoke to Gary right after you had signed with the UFC and he made the point that it is rare for the UFC to sign a fighter coming off a loss. You had lost to Danillo Villefort during the IFL’s show in May. Were you surprised when you got the call from the UFC?

Mike Massenzio: It caught me a little off guard. They usually don’t want to take a guy coming off a loss. I lost to Danillo but he’s a great athlete and he’s super-tough. It was a bad fight to make a judgment on me. At the time, I was a little disappointed but I was ready to go at all times. I feel like I belong in the UFC and I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s the best organization in the world and I’m taking this as a second chance.

Sam Caplan: You’re one of the top prospects coming out of the East Coast. It just seems like a lot of fight prospects in California and the Midwest are always getting opportunities. Do you feel East Coast fighters are getting the same kind of love from the major national promotions?

Mike Massenzio: I see it coming a little bit more and more. A lot of the best schools, training camps, and facilities are out West in Vegas and California, so they’re probably going to get a look first. But there are a lot of tough East Coast guys coming up and I feel I am one of them. I’m just excited to be on a show where I can demonstrate what I can do on an elite stage.

Sam Caplan: You were a standout wrestler at Bergen County Junior College. What made you decide to get in MMA?

Mike Massenzio: My whole life I’ve been an athlete. I’ve been wrestling since I was five years old. My ultimate dream in the wrestling world was to go Division I but I never really got a chance to get to that level (because) coming out of high school I was academically ineligible, which forced me to have to go to Junior College. And coming out of JUCO I actually was signed by Rider University to a full scholarship. Right after coming out of Bergen, I was just burnt out coming from the whole wrestling world and I had always wanted to do MMA. I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do; times were real rough (as) I had been living on my own since I was 18-years old. I had to pay bills and MMA was brand new to me. It was exciting during a time when I was burnt out so I made the switch.

Sam Caplan: When you fought for the IFL, you fought a jiu-jitsu black belt in Danillo Villefort. You’ll be making your UFC debut against a puncher in Drew McFedries. As a wrestler, do you have a preference of going against a grappler or a puncher?

Mike Massenzio:
Honestly, I feel that I am very well-rounded in every aspect: my jiu-jitsu, my standup, and obviously my wrestling is on top of its game, I feel. I’ll fight anybody. If it’s a striker, a wrestler, a jiu-jitsu guy, I approach every fight the same way; I want to have the same intensity. I’ll go over films and devise strategic moves to counter their best areas. But for the most part I just approach every fight with the right mindset and do what I’ve got to do out there.

Sam Caplan: McFedries is a tough opponent. He certainly won’t be an easy debut. Have you started watching film in order to scout him and prepare for the fight?

Mike Massenzio: Without a doubt. As soon as I had heard I had the fight with him we started going over what we felt his weaknesses and his strengths were. We just have been trying to pick his game a part so that I can put a gameplan together and figure out how I am going to approach the fight.

Sam Caplan: I know you can’t talk about your gameplan too much, but I wanted to know if there is one area you’ve seen in his game that you feel you can exploit?

Mike Massenzio: My whole thing is whoever I fight, I want to be aggressive. From the opening bell to the final bell, I want to apply constant pressure. I want to give it everything I’ve got, no matter what. He’s a great fighter and this is a great fight. It’s an honor being able to fight a guy like this. But I feel I am at his level and I’m at all of these guys’ level and this is just a great fight because I can prove what I can do. Like I said, I’m just going to pressure the whole time and go out there and give it everything I’ve got.

Sam Caplan: Ideally where would you like to be in the UFC a year from now?

Mike Massenzio: A year from now I hope I’ve won all of my fights. I hope I am undefeated in the UFC. I can’t really predict what’s going to happen in the future; all I know is that I have to worry about what’s going on today. Before I can look ahead, I need to get past Drew McFedries first but I would love to win all of my fights within a year and then see what’s going on then.

Sam Caplan: I assume fighting for the middleweight title is a goal of yours. How soon do you think you’d be ready for Anderson Silva?

Mike Massenzio: My dream is to be a world champion in the UFC but I’m just taking one step at a time. Drew McFedries is just the first guy in my way. It’s hard to say but I hope that within a year or two that I’m in title contention.

22 COMMENTS
  • […] pressure will be Massenzio’s strategy. Here’s some info on Massenzio…and an interview by Caplan 5 Oz. Exclusive: Mike Massenzio plans to apply constant pressure during UFC debut :Five Ounces of Pa… […]

  • Numba1Stunna says:

    Sounds like a cool guy and I will be rooting for him without a doubt. I have never been a big fan of McFedries. He is humble enough to realize this is the UFC and if you look past your current fight into the future you are going to get owned. Best of luck Mike.

  • Rich S. says:

    i like McFedries, but, barring a quick KO, i’m giving this one to Massenzio..

    if you ask me, McFedries hasn’t shown much heart in any of his fights, he either gets a fast KO, or he crumbles/breaks.. so, it seems that all you have to do is avoid the first few bombs and you’ll do fine..

  • Jose says:

    I will be rooting for McFedries in this one. I have met and sparred Massenzio before and I don’t think I ever met a cockier fighter. His attitude sucks and all he does now is bitch about how he could of been the guy that is in the UFC if he would’ve expected the short notice offers. The guy is a tool and I hope that his tenure does not last long in the UFC.

  • Jose says:

    I want to say that before I am jumped on that I am not saying that Massenzio doesn’t have skill but that I thought his attitude was messed up and unbecoming.

  • Joe says:

    “how he could of been the guy that is in the UFC if he would’ve expected the short notice offers.”
    What does that even mean, Jose?
    I have to say you are full of shit. Ask anybody who has REALLY trained with him and they know how hard this kid works and how grateful he is for this chance. Your are just a hater.

    Massenzio by sub 1st round

  • Bricks says:

    Hey Jose that’s an awful lot of Massenzio hating in one paragraph, what happened you got hit a little to hard in one of those sparring sessions so you wanna cry here like a little bitch ?

  • Kelvin says:

    Massenzio better take McFedries to the ground.

  • Jeremy says:

    Excellent interview Sam. I didn’t know much about Massenzio prior to this interview. All that I had seen was a youtube highlight and his fight with Villefort. Very good insight into him in this interview. I am definitely excited to see how he does with McFedries.

    I would really think Mike’s advantage would be on the ground with McFedries. We all saw with Drew’s fight with Kampmann that is where his weakness is. He’s a huge middleweight that likes to knock your head off if you give him the chance. Don’t give him the chance Mike, be aggressive, take him down and finish him off.

  • Anthony says:

    Massenzio is sure to have this fight in the bag. He has everybody rooting for him. He’s all around skilled- stand-up, floor. And about him having an attitude? you have no idea what this guy has been through. He has overcome so many odds and he’s just begining. His UFC contract is just the start. He has a great mind, a state wrestling champ, now a successful school that he owns and Massenzio’s Fiancé is drop dead gorgeous. He’s well on his way to a perfect life.

  • paramusgvr87 says:

    Massenzio will take this guy down and beat him down like he never has anybody before! He wants this and he deserves this. drew better be ready to get down cause I’ve seen Mike fight and he is serious! This Jose guy above has no idea what he’s talking about and is a scared Loser that needs to talk shit online. Seems like you got rocked in the head too many times Jose. F-ing Loser!
    Mike Massenzio is a great fighter and I have to agree with Anthony that he’s got alot of skills and again have to agree with Anthony that Massenzio’s Fiancé is baddddd. She’s a knock out no pun intended
    Good Luck Massenzio!

  • bryan says:

    i just hope he gets knocked the f*** out because he stole a lot of Jerry Jones’s High belt students when he opened his own school. that was a dick move.

  • joe says:

    Bryan – He did steal anybody. We left for all our own reasons. Best to keep your mouth shut about shit you have no idea about.

  • joe says:

    Bryan – He not did steal anybody. We left for all our own reasons. Best to keep your mouth shut about shit you have no idea about.

  • Craig Hannigan says:

    I train at Jerry Jone’s school and I know for a fact that Jerry wants Mike to win this fight and has no hard feelings. We all wish him the best and wish who ever left that message didn’t put it up or would take it down.

    Good Luck Mike Kick ass!!!

  • Joe Stipo says:

    Thanks Craig – Its guys like that make it seem like bad blood when there is none on either side.
    Tell Bryan that he should worry more about training and less about rumors.

  • Mike says:

    Jose…You never spared with Massenzio and if you did im sure your wrongful comments about him are just part of your anger that you had to pick your teeth up off the floor.Anyone that knows this kid knows he is one of the humblest guys in the world….rarely whines and has a tremendous work ethic.Its clowns like you that have no clue…Joe or Jose you a a complete moron!!!! Hey Joe…..THE WINNER IS??????? EAT YOUR HEART OUT LOSER

  • Joe says:

    Jose and Bryan – better luck next time … dick heads

  • Dana says:

    Great Fight. Great Win. Great Debut. Great Guy and Team. Great Girlfriend. Welcome to the UFC man. Cant’ wait to see what else you’ll bring!

  • Boneyard722 says:

    Mike Massenzio’s Girlfriend is so FUCKING hot she should become a ring girl. Her poster would make my wall of favorites. She’s Fucking Hot!!

  • Mario says:

    Surprised he didn’t get knocked out. I guess we’ll have to see what else he has to offer and if he can handle playing with the big boys now. Also whats the deal with all the hype I hear about Massenzio’s Fiancé Mellissa about being the 6th Octogan ring girl? Even heard Dana say how stunning she is so real curious to know if both are now part of the UFC family

  • DESINOM says:

    Tough break for Mike these next couple of months with knee and back surgery. but we’ll see more of him and hopefully he’ll pull thru and take on the UFC like he took on the New Jersey scene. He’s a well mattered, likeable guy who’s got his foot in the door now just needs to get all the way in. hoping to see more of him- he’s got a great team, his wife Melissa is spectacular, and he’s full of potential. Here’s to fast safe recovery.

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