UFC 171’s Justin Scoggins Eager to “Represent the New Generation of Fighters, Because I’m The Best in The World at What I Do”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Anyone who follows MMA intently knows that the sport’s upper echelon has been invaded by a “new wave” of fighters, who are making their presence felt, despite the fact many of them are barely past 20. Unlike previous generations of fighters, many of these competitors have been training in all aspects of MMA since they were teenagers, and in some cases, even before that. They have spent much of their lives dreaming about, and preparing for a career as a MMA fighter. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a mindset and vision that didn’t exist until recent history.
One of these “next generation” fighters is American Top Team’s Justin Scoggins, who made his UFC debut this past December at the age of 21. Having scored a first round, stoppage win over Richie Vaculik at UFC FN 33, the UFC booked Scoggins to fight veteran Will Campuzano at UFC 171 this Saturday. The “Tank’s” near lifelong dream is clearly well underway.
“Man, this is what I wanted to do since I stepped onto a Karate mat,” Scoggins relayed on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “When I was three years old I signed up for Upstate Karate in Simpsonville, South Carolina and actually started training with a 14, 15 year-old Stephen Thompson, who’s actually in the UFC now. I looked up to him my whole life and he was always a big inspiration to me.”
After taking his first steps into a life of competition as a toddler, Scoggins continued to train until he made his amateur MMA debut in 2010, and his pro debut in 2012.
“MMA was always the goal in mind,” said Scoggins, who is a black belt in Kenpo Karate. “I grew up wrestling, I grew up kickboxing and competing, covering all my bases to make sure I was a complete fighter. Like you said, being that new generation of mixed martial artists, making sure that I could handle myself in any situation that I was put in.”
“It’s just been a lifetime of preparation and I want to represent that new generation of fighters because I’m the best in the world at what I do, and I’m excited to go out and prove it every single fight.”
To date, not only has Scoggins won all eight of his pro bouts, but the flyweight has scored a TKO or knockout in six of them. Despite the fact the American Top Team fighter had less than ten fights on his record as 2013 came to a close, the UFC was clearly convinced of his ability to compete at the sport’s highest levels.
“Oh man, absolutely you know,” said Scoggins, when asked if he believes the UFC will continue to add promising fighters to its roster in the coming years, despite the fact many of them will not have extensive pro records. “I try to tell everybody this, everyone wants to say about my age, and I’m really young and all this, but there’s a lot of guys in their thirties that I’ve been doing this longer than them. People just don’t realize it. I’ve been training my entire life, like I said, since I was three years old. This has been the goal. Even though I might not have known it then, everyone knew I had the knack for it; everyone knew I had the drive and I’ve always been interested in it.”
“It’s always been what I’ve pushing towards to be,” added Scoggins. “Being the best the most complete martial artist I can be, and being the best fighter in the world.”
UFC 171 will be hosted by the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, and will feature Johny Hendricks taking on Robbie Lawler for the vacant welterweight title.
Stay tuned to Full Contact Fighter for a follow up article with Scoggins, regarding his thoughts on Campuzano and training with American Top Team.