When Tyler McGuire steps back onto the global stage next Wednesday, 7 April, he’ll be competing in front of a prime-time North American audience.
With friends, family, and fans all watching live in his home nation, the United States Air Force Staff Sergeant is ready to represent himself, his country, and the promotion to the best of his ability.
“As Americans, we’re proud of our military. I think I’m a good ambassador for America. I don’t talk trash and I’m always respectful of my opponent, and those are the values that ONE wants to reflect,” McGuire says.
“You can always watch the replays, but nothing replaces a live fight. To get that opportunity to fight in prime time, people are going to be tuning in.
“It’s a big moment for me, too. Putting on a good performance is only going to help my stock as well.”
Of course, the path back toward a ONE Welterweight World Title shot is currently blocked by a surging Russian juggernaut.
Following impressive back-to-back first-round victories inside the Circle, Magomedaliev has McGuire’s full attention. The bearded warrior has a formidable grappling background and he is equipped with one-punch knockout power, which was on full display at ONE: COLLISION COURSE II in December.
But while the American respects his opponent’s game, he feels ready for the Eagles MMA representative’s well-rounded attack.
“I think he’s an excellent, dynamic striker,” McGuire says. “If you look at what he likes to do, he actually kind of breaks the mold a little bit of the Dagestani production line. He’s more of a rangy striker.
“I’m not saying he can’t take me down because he’s a sambo champ, and I know he has that capability, but I’m not worried about him doing that.”
That confidence stems from a mixed martial arts career filled with tenacious grappling – one that’s led McGuire to a stellar 12-1 professional record.
“I don’t really have to fear the takedown like he does when I’m trying to get mine, as far as trading leather,” he says.
“If he does take me down, whatever, walk into my office, thanks. Now you’ve just saved me some energy. You took me down, and now we’re working.”
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However, the match did not go as smoothly as planned.
Known for his cardio, the American pushed the pace and used his relentless grappling to take his Malaysian rival to the canvas, where he continually searched for a finish. But by the middle of the bout, exhaustion had set in, and McGuire was finding it difficult to even keep his hands up.
“That was probably the most adversity-filled fight that I’ve ever had leading up to it. It was rough. Because I was tired, I was a little disappointed with my performance,” the American says.
“I don’t think people understand what that feels like when you would rather get punched in the face than raise your arms. But I still kept pressing and moving [forward], and I didn’t ever quit.”
McGuire certainly did not quit. The military man regained his wind before the third round and then secured the victory to get back in the win column.
The comeback performance helped him address weaknesses in his game and overcome his first professional defeat against Kadestam.
“You take your first L, and it does something to you. You lose your aura of invincibility,” the American says.
“It goes back to my daughter, though, and I’m trying to get her back up on the horse when she fails because she will. I can be that example of, ‘Hey, I failed, and I came back.’ So, that’s what it comes down to.”
Indeed, McGuire has a chance to be that shining example when he gets back on the horse and zeroes in on Magomedaliev.
Much like his relentless, pressing-forward style in the Circle, the Iowa-born workhorse is not interested in taking a step back in his journey. Instead, he views the 7 April meeting as the next move toward a World Championship.
“I feel like every fight should be a step forward in your career,” he says.
“If it’s not, you’re taking backward steps, and maybe you should re-evaluate where you’re at. Should you still be doing this? If I’m not marching toward the title, then forget it.”
Above all, McGuire intends to leave both fans and reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov with a performance they won’t soon forget.
“My goal is just to keep putting the pressure on, and then I want to get that finish in the second round,” the American says. “It’s going to be head-hunting. I want to put him down.”