Cody McKenzie takes Diaz training, mom’s advice into fight with Mendes


Cody McKenzie became part of the MMA consciousness during the TUF: GSP vs. Koscheck season. In front of an international audience, the affable Alaskan showed both a charming personality and a deadly submission game, evidenced by his victory over pre-show favourite Marc Stevens. On Saturday night he will lock horns with Chad Mendes in his featherweight debut. While it is McKenzie’s debut in the division, he has no qualms about fighting a former challenger to champion Jose Aldo’s title.

If I have video, I watch it just to see his tendencies. For sure if there’s video I watch it, It’d be stupid to not watch video if they have video on them. You always want to see what they are going to do. This is a chess match with our bodies. It’s a game of strategy in a way. I have no problem with Chad personally, we’ve met a few times, but now that we’ve got to fight each other, he’s my enemy. I’ve built it up in my head that he’s trying to hurt me and kill me, so I look at a fight as a fight. It’s a little war, so come Saturday I’m going to war.

McKenzie has quite the rogues gallery when it comes to training partners. In addition to Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm, the man who took his first MMA class on his way home from prison; McKenzie has also spent some time training with the notorious Stockton bad boys, the Diaz brothers.

I train with Nathan a lot. I train with Nick too, but I stay in contact with Nathan. We B.S. quite a bit, he called me last night and BS’d with me a bit. He’s a real funny guy, I like that guy a lot. He’s a f’n character that guy, he’s a crackup. We were at a lot of the same shows, like my boy Lyle Beerbohm would be there and Nathan would be there for one of his guys. Then we would always go train together, so we just started training together on the road in different places. I floated through their gym a couple times, then before this last fight I went and stayed with them for a few weeks. I’ll definitely always go cross train with Nathan, he’s a friend of mine and a great individual.

Athletes are notorious for being superstitious, and McKenzie is no exception. But he also pays heed to one of the great axioms of all time: “listen to your mama”.

I do a lot of big deep breaths before each fight. My mom is the one who brought that up. She said, “Every time I’ve seen you fight and you do good. The best you do is when you take a real big breath right when you get in the cage and relax your body.” Sometimes I black myself out, because I always black out in a fight. Sometimes I black myself out on purpose backstage, I’ve learned not to do that anymore and control my breathing and relax a little bit more. No matter what I’m going to lose my shit, so I need to be a little bit calmer.

McKenzie will take his mother’s pre-fight zen and attempt to turn it into another “McKenzie-tine” submission victory on Saturday night.


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