Odyssey’s JD Domengeaux: Old Opponent, New Challenges. And Staying Hungry at an MMA Super Gym
By Keith Harmon
“Odyssey Round One: Hobbs vs Staley,” which takes place tonight, Saturday, June 20, streams as a Video On Demand on Full Contact Fighter courtesy of Go Fight Live (GFL).
I had a chance to talk with American Top Team product JD Domengeaux who faces John “Big Dawg” Bryant in a rematch on the undercard. They first fought at Ring of Dreams-Fight Night 15, with Domengeaux getting the TKO victory. However Domengeaux views Bryant as a whole new opponent and is not taking him lightly.
Keith Harmon: How did the Tim Credeur seminar influence you to get into Mixed Martial Arts?
JD Domengeaux: Tim Credeur is a Louisiana Legend when it comes to mixed Martial Arts. He’s kind of the guy who paved the way for all of us. He was putting on seminars back in the day and I was immediately hooked on MMA and started pursuing my dream right after.
KH: You currently train at American Top Team. Which is one of the best-known gyms in MMA. What’s it like working at such a well-known gym?
JD: It’s great. American Top Team in my opinion is the gym in the world. The best fighters in the world. You can’t help but get better over there. It’s sink or swim feeling over there. You either get better or get run over. Everybody is super nice over there and willing to help out to get you to where you want to be. It really is an amazing gym.
KH: Robbie Lawler the UFC Welterweight Champion trains out of there. Do you work with him at all?
JD: I’ve worked with him since I’m a southpaw. Worked with him for his Johny Hendricks fight. We mixed it up and got to spar with him leading up to the first fight with him.
KH: How different is fighting southpaw from fighting in an orthodox stance?
JD: I’m a southpaw so I fight left-handed. I think it’s good. I work mostly against right-handers when I’m training. So when I fight an orthodox guy normally they’re used to training with other right-handers. So when they fight me everything is backwards. I feel like it’s an advantage for me.
KH: You’re fighting John “Big Dawg” Bryant again. What are your thoughts on the rematch?
JD: He’s a game opponent and respectable guy. He comes to fight, which is a good thing. I’m preparing like it’s a whole new guy. We recently fought, I beat him and he was immediately calling for a rematch. He’s hungry and determined to turn it around. He’ll be a whole new fighter come Saturday. But the thing is so will I. I’m going to be way better than I was last time. I’m training like it’s a world title fight. Ever fight I have I train like it’s a UFC title fight.
KH: Speaking of the UFC. It’s every fighter’s dream to get to that organization. How close do you think you are to getting a chance with the UFC?
JD: I feel I have to put a streak together. We won three in a row. But I need to build my record up to where I have at least ten or eleven wins before I’m on the radar. With my skill set I will be on the radar when that time comes. Hopefully things will work out.
KH: Since beginning your work with American Top Team, what do you think have been some of your biggest improvements?
JD: Overall just being around high-level guys. You feed off the energy of the gym. You look around and you see 50 or 60 guys on the bags and they’re hungry and you can’t help but to feed off that. Every aspect of my game has gotten light years better. You’re constantly on the mats with the best guys in the world at this sport. You can’t help but get better. And you have the best coaches on the planet under one roof.
KH: Whom would you consider your main influence as a coach in American Top Team?
JD: I have a lot of influences. Early on it was Crazy Tim Credeur, UFC veteran. Now it would be Chuck Isaac my boxing coach, Steve Bruno another coach I work with on a regular basis.
KH: Do you currently live in Louisiana or have you moved to Florida?
JD: I was born and raised in Louisiana but I moved out to Florida to train with American Top Team about two and a half years ago. I wanted to be out here full time.
KH: What do you enjoy doing in your down time in Florida?
JD: I imagine the social life is good out here. But I wouldn’t know. I’m kind of like one of those fighters who lives in a dungeon. I love training and living that hungry lifestyle. I don’t come from much. And I still live that way. Because it makes me hungry. Everyday I wake up and determined to get to the gym and improve, and knock people’s heads off and get where I want to be.
KH: I noticed a meme a while ago hyping the Lawler vs Brown fight saying “Just Bleed.” It seems like these guys want to go out there and fight tooth and nail. Do you have that kind of mindset or style of fighting?
JD: I have a lot of technique but you have to be willing to sacrifice it all in the cage. In my opinion I’m willing to die in the cage for that victory. I want to either get my hand raised or die trying.
KH: I know you have a couple losses on your record. How has that affected your mindset and outlook?
JD: It’s good. My only losses were not at 170. It’s when I was at 155 when I tried to drop too much weight. Or when I fought at middleweight. When I took a fight on short notice. Losses are good, it got me out of my comfort zone and after a loss you have to re-examine and say, “do I really want to do this?” For me it’s no doubt. I love this sport and it makes me train even harder.
KH: You feel that 170 is your home? Any desire to go up or down in weight in the future?
JD: 170 is where I’m going to be. That’s where I’m going to be. I tried going to 155 and felt like I almost killed myself trying to get there. And 185, you have big guys cutting from 215 to get there.
KH: Think that’s about it. Is there anything you want to add?
JD: I appreciate you to take the time to interview. I would like to thank American Top Team for taking me in and allowing me to train full time. They’ve changed my whole life when it comes to MMA. I appreciate everyone over there.