HOWARD — The gruelling, punishing world of Mixed Martial Arts is not a place one enters without years of disciplined training in numerous fighting techniques.
For 19-year-old Trent McCown, it’s all he has ever wanted to do.
The former East Knox High School student had a knockout performance at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus last weekend — literally.
McCown (7-0, 2 KOs — including a TKO), who is used to fighting men five to 10 years his senior, scored a knockout at 1:51 of the first round against Tim McCavit to win his bout.
“Going into the fight, I was really focused,” said McCown. “I knew this was big — really big.”
McCown got his opponent against the fence, using Muay Tai fighting techniques, but McCavit turned the tables on his younger adversary and put him into a guillotine choke.
“I was really worried about getting out of that because I couldn’t breath,” said McCown. “It was cutting off my circulation. If I didn’t get out of it, I was going to pass out. I could tap out (give up) but I would rather pass out.”
After about 30 seconds McCown, who was beginning to fade, felt McCavit’s grip suddenly loosen.
“That’s when I slipped my head out,” said McCown who was seeing black and very close to passing out. “He was on his back. As we both stood up, I thought, ‘This guy means business, I’ve got to do something real quick — something meaningful.’ So he comes in and I throw a jab. He throws a kick and, once he does that, I throw a straight right.”
That right sent McCavit down to the canvas but in this type of arena, you don’t go to the neutral corner when you knockdown your opponent.
“After that right, I followed up with a hook,” said McCown. “I followed with some more punches because you’re not supposed to stop fighting until the referee says so.”
The referee finally intervened to stop the fight, with McCavit down and unable to continue.
“I didn’t know he was out,” said McCown. “My blood was pumping. I was going 100-miles-an-hour. My adrenaline was running so fast, I didn’t even know he was unconscious. Then, the ref jumped in the way and that was the end. It didn’t really register until I saw doctors surrounding (McCavit) trying to wake him up.”
Better than scoring a knockout for McCown was doing it in front of some prominent names in the fight game. UFC Fighter Randy “The Natural” Coture, Curt Engle from pro wrestling, UFC Vice President Joe Silva, along with a number of sportscasters were in attendance.
“That’s going to help my career in the future,” said McCown, who hopes to turn pro in the near future as soon as he gets his pro license. “Right now, all my fights have been amateur. I don’t really control who I fight or when. The plan, now that I have this win, is to go pro from here on out.”
For these combatants, the animosity ends outside the cage.
“Once (McCavit) stood up I gave him a hug,” said McCown. “I told him, ‘You almost had me there. It was a good fight,’ and we went our separate ways. I showed him respect and wished him luck. Besides that, it’s all business.”
While the term, ‘cage fighting,’ is still used, McCown prefers Mixed Martial Arts. The latter term better describes his eclectic, multidisiplinary style.
“Some guys like to be called fighters,” said McCown. “I prefer to called a Mixed Martial Artist. I don’t like to be called a caged fighter. I’ve run into some guys, who think that they can do this after a month, but that’s not the case at all. If you go into a caged fight or Mixed Martial Arts event soft and not well trained, you’ll be in trouble. It has to be almost instinct when you throw the punch or do the maneuver.”
Normally, McCown is a 155-pounder. At the Arnold Classic, he had to move up.
“I was supposed to fight at 155, but two opponents backed out so I had to fight at 170,” said McCown. “I had to eat more to get up to that weight class. From 155 to 170, the size differences are really not that vast, but the guys in the 170 class are definitely stronger. Speed is key with the lighter weight class.”
When he enters the ring for his three, 3-minute rounds, McCown is all business as he goes about his work. While other fighters enter the arena with music or other theatrics, McCown shuns the image building and simply prays.
“I’m not the kind of guy that worries about nicknames or entrance music,” said McCown. “I just focus on my training. That’s all I’m concerned about. Anything else, I don’t like to worry about. I don’t like to get my mind off the focus.”
As a 13-year-old growing up in Columbus, McCown got his first taste of the emerging world of Ultimate Fighting as it found a ready audience on cable television. His own talent to fight was already obvious and that included an uncanny ability to take a punch.
“I was like one of those lost kids that didn’t know what to do,” said McCown. “I was 13 and I started getting into a lot of fights. I wouldn’t recommend this for any kids, but I would get into fights and I was enjoying fighting and getting punched in my face. Some kids would be crying. I would be laughing. I thought I was different but I decided I was the same as anyone else but I just wanted something different. Then, I saw UFC on TV and I thought, ‘Wow!’ Up to that time, I wanted to be a boxer or a college wrestler. Once I saw mixed martial arts on TV, there was nothing else I could see myself doing. I made the right steps, found the right people and, as soon as I turned 18, I got my first fight.”
McCown, who had his first karate lessons when he was 11, went to the Greg Green Kick Boxing Academy. in his mid-teens. He also trained in Mixed Martial Arts in Newark.
East Knox wrestling coach Keith Kauffman is one of the people that McCown credits for harnessing his skills and sharpening his discipline.
I wrestled at East Knox for three years,” said McCown. “(Kauffman) is a great wrestling coach. He was old school but had a nice foundation for wrestlers. It was rough, but, you just had to get used to it and know what he was trying to do. I liked it and I think every kid should learn something off of Keith Kauffman.”
Currently, McCown, who has been in Mixed Martial Arts for two years, is a part of Team Link and trains with Dave Lashley at Body Basics five days per week.
“I start with lifting and then we do Ju-Jitsu,” said McCown. “I stretch and loosen up. We practice moves over and over. Then, we’ll finish up with seven-minute grappling rounds. We’ll do a minimum of five of those a day. After that, I’ll work on boxing and Muay Tai and we’ll do some sparring. After that, I like to keep the sweat going so I’ll hit the sauna room for another 20 to 30 minutes.”
All of these steps prepared McCown to withstand the rigorous work and sacrifice that goes with keeping fighting fit.
“After winning on Friday and the recognition that I’ve gotten. It’s like a jumpstart,” said McCown. “It’s been hard and there were times where I wondered if it was worth it. If you overcome that, stay focused, positive and humble, and you train hard, I don’t care who you are. It will all work out. I’ve put girlfriends behind this. I’ve put school behind this. To me, martial arts is the main thing.”