When it comes to the warrior mentality and an old school, no nonsense approach to fighting, Texas MMA fighter Marcus Penland fits the bill. A battle tested veteran with more than 15 professional and amateur bouts to his resume over a span of 7 years, Penland is as tough as they come. At first glance, when looking at his overall record of 7-7, one could quickly make the assumption that he is a journeyman prize fighter. When further breaking down his record and career however, that assumption is far from the truth.
Penland, nicknamed “Lone Star” for the state that he represents, took on anyone and everyone, struggling in the beginning of his career and going 2-5 in his first seven professional bouts. Then, something in the mindset of this gritty fighter changed. Penland went on a tear, winning four fights in a row and five out of his last seven, a mirror image of his first seven fights. He finished three opponents during that span, with the only two losses coming at the hands of top ranked opposition, Legacy FC and HD MMA veterans Derrick Adkins and Austin Anderson, in grueling and close battles. In the last fight, Penland fought a dangerous and talented opponent in Tyler Griffin, 3-1 at the time, stopping him via strikes in an exciting, co-main event at HD MMA 4 in February. During that fight, it was evident that Penland, who historically struggled against take downs and submissions, had raised the bar. Using his newly improved mat techniques, Penland avoided submission attempts and multiple take downs from his highly skilled BJJ opponent, wearing him out, en route to the third round finish.
We asked Marcus what had changed for him in his career during the last seven fights and what the difference was in the big turnaround that he had accomplished thus earning him this title fight. “I started cross training. Before, I focused on what I knew and didn’t branch out. I joined Family Combat and Thunder Boxing Gym and it did wonders for my skills and knowledge. I focused on my cardio, strength training, wrestling, boxing, and BJJ along with working on my Muay Thai in the evenings.”
For a fighter who primarily trained to “fight”, Penland became a true martial artist. We asked him what specifically he felt was lacking in his career and what some of the other implementations were. “I had a lack of faith in my skill set, discipline, and didn’t really have real purpose. Ty Pilgrim turned that around. He is my coach and mentor and sparked the flame that played a huge part in my turn towards being a winning fighter. I know my purpose now, believe in my skills, and they are ever evolving. My faith is at an all-time high and my self-discipline is an everyday practice as I march to war!”
We also wanted to know what Penland preferred as a fighting style considering the multiple methods he has used to finish fights and how he treated weight cutting. “I tend to lean towards striking for damage but am truly in love with all aspects of the fight”, he said. “As far as cutting goes, I’ve never missed weight. I don’t piss and moan about cutting. I signed the contract and I have to be that weight on that day, that’s the bottom line. I don’t agree to something and flake; it’s a part of the job, “cowboy up”!”
Preparing for the toughest test of his career, a five round title fight, the fighter they call “Lone Star” gave us the impression that he is truly ready and that his mind and skills are at a peak level. For a fighter who has overcome so much adversity in his career, this is an opportunity to add a capstone to a true resurgence and a pathway to the bright future he once envisioned for himself when getting into the game. At some point along the way, the bright lights and the hope seemed to dim, but as with so many great stories of perseverance, it appears the fire is lit once again and he is coming to get what he feels is the culmination of the blood and sweat that has gotten him to this point, a championship!