Swick: From Comedy Night to Fight Night

Dec 10, 2008
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- There’s never been a time Mike Swick wasn’t serious about fighting.

Whether it was skipping typical teenage activities to train, seeking out sparring partners in the winters of Russia or leaving the Lone Star State for the Golden State to sharpen his skills, Swick has always had a no-nonsense approach.

His recent move from 185 pounds to the welterweight mark of 170 is something he mulled over for a year. There’s nothing the Texas-born fighter does without the goal of being the best fighter in the world at the forefront of his mind. However, when Swick employed an unconventional training method for his “Fight for the Troops” UFC bout against Jonathan Goulet -- verbally sparring with comedian Kristopher Tinkle on the Improv’s stage on Nov. 20 -- he had no time to deliberate and little space to be serious.

After comedians “Big” Al Gonzalez, Dan Wilson, Jason Wheeler, Kevin Camia and the headlining Tinkle worked the crowd, the San Jose-based fighter took center stage alongside Tinkle on a leather couch. The Improv’s classic red brick wall was suddenly a backdrop for an MMA infomercial rather than comedy. A highlight video of Swick earning his “Quick” nickname against Alex Schoenauer, Gideon Ray, Steve Vigneault and Joe Riggs rolled as the stage was reset to resemble a talk show.

Swick was the second fighter featured on “Steel Cage Comedy Night” with Tinkle, following teammate Jon Fitch’s lead in July. Prepared for the unpredictability of a fight, but not the comedy stage, Swick was promptly introduced to unwanted attention.

“I know what comedians are talking about when comedians are on stage and everybody’s looking at them and they don’t know what to say,” Swick awkwardly told the packed audience during technical difficulties, despite having fought in front of thousands of people. Here he was facing the pressure of vacant faces instead of flying fists.

The comedian and the fighter suffered equally through microphone shuffles before getting into the funny. Touching on one of the many trips Swick took to study muay Thai in its native country of Thailand, a clip rolled of a shirtless Swick teasing a cobra.

“You’re retarded, my friend,” quipped Tinkle.

Freddie DeFreitas/Sherdog.com

Swick predicts a knockout
against Jonathan Goulet.
“I thought it’d be a good idea getting rushed to the emergency and getting antivenom,” Swick explained with a hint of dry humor.

Tinkle then bravely set out to embarrass a man who holds a 7-1 UFC record. Next was a clip of a bare-bottomed 1-year-old girl prodding a cobra with her forehead.

“I thought Mike was brave for not wearing a shirt, but she’s not wearing underwear,” said Tinkle to big laughs. “You need to fight that b---- in a cage to see who’s the cage champion.”

Tinkle dropped teasing Swick’s decision-making abilities and brought out his training partner Fitch. The conversation switched to the former UFC welterweight title challenger briefly before Swick drew major applause for explaining his fight Wednesday at UFC Fight Night in Fayetteville, N.C., would benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which aims to aid veterans with severe injuries.

“We went [to North Carolina] a year ago,” said Swick of prior involvement with the military. “We periodically go to the base and we’re big supporters of the military, so, you know, we’re training with the military.”

Special Forces troops to be exact.

The mood quickly turned light again as Tinkle asked the American Kickboxing Academy fighters about their old habit of watching Maury Povich after training sessions when they were roommates as well as buying ad space in Goulet’s hair. The night wound down when Tinkle began talking about weight cutting.

Despite the scientific process of shedding weight, Tinkle couldn’t get over how fighters must dehydrate by sucking down a product geared toward babies -- Pedialyte.

“I want to get you some custom-made 40-ounce [bottles] of Pedialyte so you can be all gangster up there,” joked Tinkle.

Swick, who grew up watching Eddie Murphy and is a fan of Joe Rogan, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, said later the anxiousness of performing in a fight and for an audience are nothing alike. He enjoyed himself while doing a service -- promoting the charitable cause he’s fighting for Wednesday -- but he returned to fight mode the next day. Straight into the final stretch at American Kickboxing Academy, where he worked out amidst the Zuffa vs. AKA controversy ongoing at the time, business as usual. A post-Thanksgiving workout rung out Swick like a wet towel as head trainer Javier Mendez put him through 16 rounds.

It’s the type of preparation Swick needs against Goulet, a long-time friend and training partner of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. The French-Canadian has already dropped a bout against an AKA fighter when he lost to Josh Koscheck in August 2006. Swick believes the first-round finish has no bearing on his upcoming clash with “The Road Warrior.”

“It’s been so long ago. I look at the Hironaka fight and the last two fights -- those are the more recent abilities of Jonathan Goulet,” Swick told Sherdog.com on Monday. “You can’t look at him that long ago and expect him to fight the exact same way, but we train hard for everybody and we train in all areas of the game. Koscheck only fought him for four minutes. He didn’t give me a lot of input. We just did what we always do for everybody.”

If the avid poker player marks the “scrappy guy” onto his tally at 170 pounds next to Josh Burkman and Marcus Davis, he could find himself drawing the Georges St. Pierre card soon. Despite the title implications, Swick only has two goals in mind: stopping Goulet and mobilizing support for the charitable cause.

“To be able to fight for the military in person, especially for such a great cause in the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, is amazing. It’s very inspiring and motivational. I’m definitely honored and privileged to fight [for the troops], but I mean with all the different variables [in a fight] … I’m already extremely motivated to finish the fight and to be dominant.”

Swick hopes the dedication, the head-down push-through philosophy of his gym, pays off on Wednesday night. He’s ready to put on a show. And unlike the 15 minutes at the Improv, these 15 are serious -- and they’re in Swick’s world.

“I predict a knockout and I probably think it’s gonna be the first or second round,” Swick said. “I think this is the fight that’s really gonna showcase my ability at 170.”
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