Words by: Helen Mei
Photos by: Mitch Viquez
From US to Thailand Catching up with Mike Swick – Since his debut on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter nearly nine years ago, the world saw how UFC middleweight fighter, Mike “Quick” Swick, was no stranger to hard work and sacrifice. For the past four years, he has been devoting countless hours outside the octagon, overseas in Thailand, building his dream. “The dream” as he describes, is a project that will be one of the biggest gyms in the world which he refers to as his “baby”. AKA Thailand located in Phucket, Thailand, is near completion and set to open in mid-January 2014. It is described by Mike as the ultimate MMA camp experience. It is currently being built in the center of a jungle, and will be the first of its kind. Combat Lifestyle had the pleasure of catching up with the busy fighter about not only the construction of his gym, his anticipated UFC return, and UFC 168 prediction, but also his more intimate side as he discusses family and his plans for this upcoming holiday.
It was 12:30am in Thailand, 9:30am in Las Vegas, NV, when Mike Swick opened up to Combat Lifestyle about his hectic life abroad. To get a better understanding of his devotion to completing his gym on schedule, Mike Swick had just began to wind down from another hectic day building his dream overseas. He has dedicated the past four years building AKA Thailand, which is named after his successful fight team in America, (AKA ), and he states that it “will be one of the most complete fight camps ever”. Not only will it be a fight gym with many offerings, but also a training camp where fighters can prepare themselves and work alongside some of the best in the world. When asked why he chose the destination to be there? Mike Swick says, “The best muay thai is in Thailand, and you can’t get that level of muay thai anywhere else.” When AKA Thailand opens, he will continue to be traveling back and forth between Thailand and US, but a good part of his time will be spent at his gym. “This is my baby, so I want to be hands on as much as possible, and will spend a lot of time here once it opens. Right now I’m basically going home just for vacation and pretty much living here until this thing gets done.” When asked about his original business partner he brought on to build this project with, Roger Huerta, Mike kept the response brief, “I brought him in originally to do the gym, and that didn’t go well at all.”
The skilled UFC middleweight gave us an update on his health and how his training hasn’t halted though he has been busy finishing up building AKA Thailand. “Health-wise, I’m feeling really good. I’m about 210lbs now, living good, eating great, and training at the gym so I think it’s going to be great to be able to train full-time at a gym like this.” Mike told Combat Lifestyle when he expects his return inside the octagon and his most memorable fight to this date. “I don’t know yet. I’m looking to return in 2014. I definitely will be fighting middleweight. Fighting Demarcus Johnson, after being out for a very long time, and bumped on the Fox card. To be thrown into a cage after a long time of being out and broadcasted on Fox live, it was a tough fight, and to win it on a stage that big, and in the Staples Center, it was a dream come true after spending 910 days of days thinking you’re never going to fight again.”
With UFC 168 around the corner, Mike Swick told Combat Lifestyle what he predicts will be the outcome of the main event and if he would fight either Anderson Silva or Chris Weidman for the middleweight title, who he would choose as his opponent. “Anderson’s one of my favorite fighters ever, and I’m not being bias but I think he will win the fight. I’m not trying to take anything away from Weidman but I feel Anderson will dominate Weidman.” He then elaborated, “I like him too but Anderson Silva is a machine and one of the best fighters in the world, and to answer your question, you always want to fight the best. I was going to fight him actually, but took Okami and lost that fight by decision, but I do want to fight the best in the world and am a huge fan of Anderson.”
On a lighter note, Mike was asked if he has any hidden talents and he replied, “Uh, I don’t know. (laughs) I suck at everything aside from working hard and fighting. That’s all I’m doing now. I would have something if you were to have asked me this when I was just fighting full-time or had time to do other stuff. I mean literally, I don’t even have much time in a day to catch a TV show. I’m so out of touch with the world and just working around the clock.”
A lot of hard work comes sacrifice, and Mike described he had to sacrifice a lot for his family since he began this venture. When asked about having to spend time away from them, the holidays without them, and his two year old daughter, he replied, “It’s difficult having a baby girl and to sacrifice a lot for the two years prior. It’s a big sacrifice but in the end, it’s going to be really good, and in the long run, will help the family too. That’s the sad thing about working so much. I can’t leave and see my family. I had plans to spend the whole Christmas and New Year with them but had to cancel that because we’re moving so fast on the project now and I can’t take off. They might fly out here but I will miss them for the holidays.” While on the subject of his family and daughter, Mike Swick told Combat Lifestyle whether his perception of women fighting has changed at all since having a daughter, especially seeing how quickly women’s MMA has progressed in the UFC. His response was clear, “No, I don’t see it like that. I don’t see it like because I have a daughter, that she could fight or should fight. There’s something in everyone, whether they’re female or male that makes people want to fight. I don’t think its genetics. It is what it is and I’m a fan of female fighting, especially these last few years as of late, which have been huge for the sport for women, so it’s great to watch. They’re competitors and train hard so it’s great to see their success and really pulling through on their own.” With his gym opening up in 2014 and a possible return back inside the octagon as well, Mike Swick also has plans to expand his family. “Yes, pretty soon we’re looking to have one more. I have a daughter now that’s a little over 2, and we’re looking to possibly have one more. We have a daughter now, so it would be nice to have a son.”
UFC middleweight, Mike “Quick” Swick, concluded the interview by thanking his fans for all their continued support. “Thanks for your support. Check out our social media site about the gym. It’s a pretty busy project and we’re finishing up now so we’re posting all the videos and everything that went on and how we’re putting this gym together. It’s going to be unlike anything that’s ever been built before so I’m very excited for people to see what we’re actually doing.” You can stay up-to-date with his gym on www.Akathailand.com and all his social media handles under akathailand.