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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 21: (L-R) Mark O. Madsen of Denmark punches Clay Guida in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Mark O. Madsen Is All About Commitment

Olympic Medalist Mark O. Madsen Believes Sacrifices Made Will Help Fuel A Run To The Lightweight Title

When Mark O. Madsen fell to his knees after getting the split decision nod over Clay Guida last August, the emotions beaming from the three-time Olympian weren’t just rooted in the ecstasy of a hard-fought victory. The fight was Madsen’s first in 17 months – in part because of a broken jaw after UFC 248, but mostly due to the life-changing moment of his wife’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis. He hoped, through competing amidst difficult circumstances, he could provide his family the inspiration to keep going.

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Overcoming all that adversity weighed on Madsen, and the win over Guida not only validated his decision to fight, but to continue his chase for UFC gold. After the bout, he looked at the landscape of MMA in Denmark and knew, for as much as the sport had grown there, he didn’t have the facilities and training available necessary to capture the country’s first UFC title. Those things were with Fight Ready MMA in Scottsdale, Arizona, home of former two-division champion Henry Cejduo and, as of late, a favored spot for elite fighters from across the planet to drop in, such as Jon Jones, Deivison Figueiredo and Zhang Weili.

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 21: Mark O. Madsen of Denmark reacts after his split-decision victory over Clay Guida in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 21: Mark O. Madsen of Denmark reacts after his split-decision victory over Clay Guida in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


At 37 years old, Madsen knows he doesn’t have long to pursue the belt, and with a family of four to consider, moving to a new continent required several conversations. Eventually, the Madsen family decided to become adopted Arizonans for the next two years.

“It was a decision on whether to go at this 100 percent or just retire, honestly,” Madsen told UFC.com. “I don't do things half. I'm all about commitment. I like to go at it 100 percent, and that was the conversation we had - whether or not go all-in or call it a day. We had an interesting conversation, and I mean, the weather here in Scottsdale, the personalities and the things that they've done here made it an easy choice.”

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Fight Ready MMA – through Cejudo’s streak of bringing high-level talent to the desert – has cultivated a reputation of fine-tuning fighters’ skill sets in a way that brings heaps of results. 

Madsen, who proudly earned himself a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics, appreciates that kind of high-level athletic environment, as well as the coaching staff that includes Santino Defranco, Eddie Cha and Angel Cejudo. He points out their “holistic” approach to MMA, from their film study and technical teachings to their utilization of sports science throughout a training camp.

“When you step into the door and you say, ‘Hey, I want to win a UFC belt,’ they go, ‘OK, we've done it before. We know what it takes,’” Madsen said. “It's all about whether I'm willing to put in the commitment that I need to do in order to succeed. I'm all about commitment. I'm doing that commitment by moving my family out here. Not only during fight camp, but I want to stay here 24-7. I want to learn. I want to develop every single day with these guys. There's a very precise plan on the fighter that I need to evolve into in order for me to get that UFC gold. So, I'm pretty excited to be out here, and I could not imagine a better place to be.”

Mark O. Madsen of Denmark punches Clay Guida in their lightweight matchup at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum on August 21 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Mark O. Madsen of Denmark punches Clay Guida in their lightweight matchup at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum on August 21 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

That evolution mostly revolves around improving his striking game, but Madsen has also sharpened his freestyle wrestling, as well. The Greco-Roman style he competed in at the Olympics does not allow the athletes to attack legs, something crucial for grappling success in mixed martial arts, and there’s few better equipped to teach that than the Cejudo brothers. 

In terms of the opponent Madsen is preparing for, that comes in the form of vastly underrated veteran Vinc Pichel, who is coming into UFC 273 on a three-fight win streak that boosted his promotional record to 7-2. The deep ranks at lightweight are tricky to distinguish oneself from, but the pedigree involved has this matchup looking like the kind that could put the victor over and into a matchup against a Top 15 fighter. 

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“I want to go out and impose my game plan on him,” he said. “I'll take it wherever it goes. We can do some striking, we can do some wrestling, but ultimately I'm going to put it on him.”

Fight Ready MMA Specializes In The Details | UFC News Gym Visit
Fight Ready MMA Specializes In The Details | UFC News Gym Visit
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It might not take a lot for Madsen to gain some steam. Undefeated at 11-0 with the urgency he seems to hold, MMA fans might see a lot of him should he get the win on April 9. Two years to build a title resume is quite the deadline to set, but it’s miniscule compared with the other obstacles the Madsen crew has overcome in the last couple of years.

The totality of overcoming that adversity is just another layer to Madsen’s self-belief, but his pride rests in the process. The process of representing a source of strength for his family, the process of becoming a championship-level fighter, and the process of making the sacrifices necessary to accomplish his biggest goals. It is that dedication to a championship lifestyle that could position him for a real run up the lightweight ranks should he get the job done in Jacksonville.

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“What I'm most proud about in terms of that fight (against Guida) is my ability to get back to the sport,” Madsen said. “We were dealing with a lot of stuff going on personally in my family, and sometimes life just hits you with stuff you can't control. We were in a tough, tough situation, a tough spot. I'm so proud that we managed to get back into the game. And moreover, I'm very impressed that we managed to sit down after the fight and really have a conversation on whether we want to proceed towards UFC gold or if we were going to call it a day. We made the commitment. 

“My family is here, I'm here (and) this is a two-year journey. I'm going to put everything I got into this and I'm going to continue looking to build momentum.”

UFC 273: Volkanovski vs The Korean Zombie took place on Saturday, April 9, 2022live from a sold out VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!