One down, more to follow. Riding the high of a TKO win in his professional MMA debut at Shogun Fights II, Baltimore-based Super Heavyweight Ryan McGowan is one to keep tabs on. Huge, yet humble, he fights out of one of the Mid-Atlantic’s best training centers at Ground Control under the watchful eye of WEC vet John Rallo and is already making a waves thanks to his heavy hands and a willingness to learn. We caught up with McGowan to get his thoughts on his quick work in his debut, seeing himself on TV, and his goals within MMA.
MMAFullContact.com: First things first, congrats on your impressive win in your professional debut at Shogun Fights II. For those that weren’t at the fights, you overwhelmed Deon West in the co-main event and won via TKO in 30 seconds. Were you bummed that it was over so quickly?
McGowan: I wasn’t bummed that it was over so fast. I think the fans were, though, but why not end it quick if you can?
MMAFullContact.com: In your first professional MMA fight you fought in the co-main event. Because of that, did you feel any extra pressure or was it “business as usual”?
McGowan: I felt some pressure just because I am used to boxing at much smaller venues.
MMAFullContact.com: Can you describe your camp and preparations for your last fight?
McGowan: My preparation for the fight was a lot of takedown defense and getting back to my feet where I am most comfortable. The ground game was led by Mark “Borboletta” Finley and my stand up was thanks to Henry Smith. Also, Akil Patterson helped me with the wrestling. I had a lot of guys from Ground Control help me with the sparring and wrestling, too (Rob, Carl, Tom, Alex, Aiden, John, and Denny).
MMAFullContact.com: Besides fighting in the co-main event, regionally aired commercials for the event prominently featured you. What was your reaction the first time that you saw yourself on TV? Have you been recognized out and about?
McGowan: It was really cool to see myself on TV. I haven’t really been noticed out, but, I got a lot of calls from people who saw the commercial.
MMAFullContact.com: You’ve boxed as an amateur (in addition to some “Toughman-type” fights) and now fight professionally as a mixed martial artist. Why the transition to MMA?
McGowan: I think I have decided to go with MMA instead of the boxing mainly because the sport is getting huge and I feel that more people would rather see me do MMA than boxing.
MMAFullContact.com: It’s hard for some to envision Super Heavyweights as being “athletic”, yet you’ve played soccer and now play semi-pro football. As a rising prospect within MMA, will you continue to play semi-pro football?
McGowan: Yeah, I played soccer from age 4 until about 22 years old mainly because my dad is from England and that is what he played growing up. I have been playing for the Arbutus Big Red semi-pro football team for 6 years, and I will play this year because I love the game and want to see if our team can repeat this year as champions of the MDFL (Mason Dixon Football League). Then, I will probably call it quits from football.
MMAFullContact.com: You’re a big guy at 6’4″ 315 lbs, however, the weight is solid. It’s no secret that the biggest US-based MMA organizations like the UFC and Strikeforce don’t have Super Heavyweight divisions and that most Super Heavyweight fights in the US are conducted within regional events or at events like King of the Cage. That being said, have you considered a cut to 265 lbs, or is that just not a reality given your frame?
McGowan: I don’t think I could get to 265 (lbs) and, if I did, I wouldn’t feel as strong as I do now. I would probably like to be about 290 lbs. I feel that I am gonna be a lot more agile than most Super Heavyweights and I know that my power is gonna be hard to match.
MMAFullContact.com: Imagine that you continue to fight and win impressively as a Super Heavyweight in events like Shogun Fights. What would be the next logical step, to get picked up by an organization like King of the Cage? Would you also consider fighting in Japan if the opportunity presented itself?
McGowan: I am not sure about that right now. I have way too much to learn before even considering anything like Japan, King of the Cage, etc.
MMAFullContact.com: Pre-fight music – get amped or easy listening?
McGowan: I listen mostly to hard rock… heavy metal or hardcore music before a fight. Alot of Killswitch Engage, Rammstein, Static X, Pantera, and Deftones.
MMAFullContact.com: What’s your ultimate goal within MMA?
McGowan: My goal with MMA is to just learn as much as I can and keep knocking people out until I can’t anymore!
Editor’s Note: Want to see Ryan McGowan’s debut at Shogun Fights II? The intro and fight (all 30 seconds of it) are now up on YouTube.