Mixed martial arts wasn’t what Mackens Semerzier wanted in his life. Having started wrestling at age eight and pursuing Brazilian jiu-jitsu after the military, Semerzier had the talent to excel in MMA.
When a national Muay Thai and MMA tournament came to south eastern Virginia, people at the Linxx Academy dojo in Virginia Beach were curious about Semerzier. Was has going to fight? His response to the inquiries was simple. ”I’m not doing that,” said Semerzier. ”I’m not letting people kick me in the face. That’s crazy.”
But the curiosity of his peers persisted on the martial artist…and an MMA fighter was born. ”They kept asking and asking. I don’t want them to think I’m scared so I’ll just do this one tournament.”
In his match at the WKA Nationals, Semerzier faced a previous year’s champion, Brent Hess. Pressure mounted on Semerzier, being in his first amateur MMA event and having UFC legend Jens Pulver watching the match. Keeping focused on his bout, Semerzier won by decision. ”It was a scrap,” he said. ”It was the only win amateur or professionally in which I won but didn’t finish the guy.”
So was this going to be Semerzier’s last fight?
“…then you win the tournament and everyone is happy then they ask you, ‘When’s your next one?’”
Having a strong military background helped the MMA fighter with his career. Being a former Sergeant in the Marine Corp, the high intensity training he received was a crucial part in his preparation for MMA.
“I think military training has helped my martial arts as far as putting things in perspective…as far as fighting goes.”
“We like to build things up and make them the worst things ever in life. There are a lot of things going on that are way worse than what we are doing. People putting themselves in danger on a daily basis. If they can run at guys shooting at them head first, then you can can fight someone with gloves on with referee and rules. It’s not that big of a deal.”
“That and the commitment to training. If you know that training is gonna produce results…if you don’t train hard, some day you are gonna pay for it. Especially in the Marine Corp, you get what you put out.”
After years of training in martial arts, Semerzier’s career began to take off. People began to take notice.
Semerzier finished opponent after opponent, then the WEC called. His good fortune continued winning four times in the fight promotion. When the UFC bought out the WEC, the they were impressed enough with Semerzier to sign him to a contract to fight at the highest level.
It was there that Semerzier faced his greatest adversity. Semerzier recalls his first fight when he faced Alex Aceris in the octagon. In the first round, Aceris caught Semerzier with a punch to the face and ended up breaking his nose. Not wanting to back down, Semerzier gritted his teeth and went for the attack.
“I just went on auto pilot again.”
Semerzier clinched Aceris is a crushing bodylock which constricted his opponent from moving. ”Once I grabbed him he started making noise,” said Semerzier.
Smelling blood, Semerzier went on full assault.
“I said, ‘ah man, I’m not letting this guy go.’ It’s like a dog on a bone.”
After getting to Aceris’ back, Semerzier slapped on a choke and ended the fight.
Semerzier’s next two bouts in the UFC wouldn’t be as successful. A loss by submission in his second bout against Peralta and a no contest in his third would eventually cost him his spot at the organization.
Although not currently at the UFC, Semerzier still presses hard on his training. Taking days off for him is not an option.
“I train a lot of jiu-jitsu at Linxx. I train as much as possible, just keeping it playful…you have to open up your game and you can do stuff but you have to fail at it so you know that you shouldn’t not try this in a fight…if it happens in the training room it’s all good.”
“I like to play and just have fun and show different things. You know…give up positions, even to higher belts and just try to survive in those positions and just realize that you can’t tap everybody out. You shouldn’t be able to tap everybody out. Eventually you might catch them once or twice, but not consistently. If you can, you probably need to find tougher training.”
Semerzier’s latest fight was in November 2012 at Combat Sport Challenge in Richmond, Va. ”I was super comfortable. I knew I wasn’t gonna get stopped, he wasn’t gonna hold me down in any positions.” Semerzier’s training and instincts allowed him to finish his opponent in the second round by an “alligator” choke.
As far as Semerzier’s future plans, Semerzier kept things in perspective. ”I’d like to keep doing it as long as I can do it at a high level. as long as I can keep it playful and keep having fun doing it, I’d like to continue to fight. But once it becomes stressful to me or becomes a super job where I have to worry about feeding myself on the way I perform, I’ll be done with it.”