At Oktagon MMA 41, Jonas Mågård will put everything on the line to defend his belt against UFC veteran, Gustavo Lopez.
Competing in combat sports at the highest level requires a mindset seldom found in normal individuals. To put it bluntly, you have to be a little bit crazy.
For many, the pressure of walking out in front of a crowd of 10,000 screaming fans, while a world-level opponent launches punches at your face, is the stuff of nightmares. Therefore, it goes without saying that even the fighters themselves feel a hint of nerves — but not Mågård. He thrives on it.
On Saturday evening, ‘The Shark’ will take part in one of the biggest fights in Oktagon MMA history. After months of back-and-forth, he’ll finally get his chance to beat the man who holds a claim to his throne.
On December 30, Lopez defeated Filip Macek to win the interim version of the belt. And it’s not gone down too well with Mågård, who’s ready to prove, once and for all, that he’s the only King of the Bantamweight division.
And ahead of the most significant moment of his life, the Dane took some time out for a candid interview with SPORF, in which he opened up about his road to the Home Credit Arena in the Czech Republic.
Jonas Mågård reveals his journey to Oktagon MMA 41
Despite coming from a small city in Denmark, Mågård dedicated everything in his being to making it in the world of MMA, sacrificing a life around his family to pursue his passion. And now he’s hoping that those back home can take some inspiration from his phenomenal rise to the peak of the mountain.
He admitted: “It means a lot for me to represent the Danish flag. I feel like I represent the opportunities. Even though I come from a small city, people still have a chance to follow their dreams. If there’s something you really want, you should just go for it, and I feel like I’m a proven example of that.
“When I found MMA, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I have been doing everything to be the best. I’ve travelled away from home, left my family and moved to Copenhagen when I was 18. I’ve been chasing my dream, so it means the world to me.”
Through hard work and dedication, Mågård managed to grind his way to the top of the tree. However, his road to the pinnacle of the sport was anything but easy.
Despite possessing high-level skills, the fearsome grappler couldn’t get things to click during the early portion of his career, going 1-3 in his first four outings. But in a testament to his incredible powers of self-belief, he managed to overcome the adversity placed in his way.
Explaining how he battled back from the brink, he said: “It’s where I come from. Even though it’s a small city, it’s working class. It’s all about working and never giving up. Nothing was given to me easily in this life. I feel like those three losses at the start of my career built the character I am today. I have a bulletproof mentality because I kept going.
“A lot of people would’ve quit and said, ‘maybe this isn’t for me’. But I was stubborn. I wanted to keep going and prove everybody wrong. That’s definitely one of my strongest assets. And I show that in my fights. I always want to keep going no matter what. There’s always a way.”
Jonas Mågård is determined to finish Gustavo Lopez
In a tremendous career, Lopez has fought around the world, proving his class on several occasions. But against a fighter like Mågård, that could be his downfall. There are hours of tape available for the reigning champion to analyse, giving him endless time to compose a game plan.
The 125-pound title-holder confessed: “Of course I watch them. I study everything about my opponents. This is war. I know everything he’s doing. I know about his personal life and everything about him. You can figure out people’s characters before you fight. So I know how they’ll react in certain positions. I know when they eat and what they eat. It puts me in a position where I’m in control.”
Throughout the build-up, the pair have delighted fans with their brutal war of words, and Mågård is committed to continuing the battle of the minds right until the second the cage door closes.
He claimed: “Lopez has had his time and opportunity to prove himself. But he couldn’t prove himself. He always came second, and that’s going to happen this time too. When he faced someone who wanted it more than him, he failed.
“He has other things he can do. He has businesses; it’s a second thing for him. It’s something that’s fun and for his ego or whatever. The difference is that this is the only thing I do. I’ve been away from my son; I’ve put everything into this. I want this more than he wants this. I’ve put more work into this than he’ll ever be able to do.
“When it gets dirty, and it will get hard and violent, 100% I’ll be on top of that. This is do or die; if I have to spend the rest of my life in hospital after this fight, I’d be happy about that.
Mågård is a fighter willing to go the extra mile. While he confesses that he’s not the most technical operator, he more than makes up for it with his unrivalled will to win. No matter what comes his way, he’s mentally prepared to take it on the chin and keep marching forward.
With the styles of the two fighters headlining Saturday night’s card guaranteed to blend for an absolute barnburner, this is one fans can’t afford to miss.
They can watch all the action live via DAZN.
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Featured Image Credit: Oktagon MMA