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McDonough driven to be the best Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 15:48

(Photos courtesy of the great Brian C. Olsen. Check out his stuff at www.flashfillfoto.com)

Adam McDonough is doing his best to juggle two full-time careers. Of course, it helps that he loves both of his jobs.

During the day, McDonough gives 110 percent as a Carrier Development Manager at C.H. Robinson. But most of McDonough's early mornings and late nights are dedicated to training as a fighter.

If McDonough, who wrestled collegiately at North Dakota State and St. Cloud State, didn't have such great passion for both careers, it would be hard to keep up such a brutal pace, leaving his house most mornings around 6 a.m. and not returning until 9 p.m. It also helps he has such a supportive girlfriend, who helps keep McDonough's life structured and moving in the right direction.

McDonough's mixed martial arts career has been slowed over the past year, mostly due to a series of injuries. But he's healthy now, and he's anxious to show off the skills he's developed over the last year.

McDonough (6-0), who is a Faribault native now living near St. Cloud, will get that chance Saturday in Alexandria when he returns to the cage for the first time since April of 2009. He's fighting Beto Cerano during CFX's Armageddon in Alexandria at the Runestone Community Center.

Minnesota MMA News tracked down McDonough after one of his long work days for an interview before his big return to the cage.

Hey Adam. What's your wrestling background? And how did you get into MMA?

MCDONOUGH: i went to NDSU to wrestle after high school, but I blew my knee out. So I transferred to St. Cloud State. I wrestled for a semester there. And I got introduced to MMA. I was working out at a boxing gym, and I saw it, and I basically fought like three weeks later. But I've been fighting my whole life. My dad started me in Taekwondo when I turned 4. We traveled country for Taekwondo competitions. And then I started wrestling when I was in sixth grade maybe, and we started traveling for that. I guess MMA was just the next step in competition. So I started training with Damage Inc. in probably 2006. Like I said, when I started training, I fought for the first time only like three weeks later. Then I realized I should probably train for a while and actually learn the sport.

Where are you training now and how's your training schedule?

MCDONOUGH: Well, I graduated from college last May, so I got my big boy job right off the bat, like a week later. I wanted to justify all the debt I was in from college. About three months later, I started training with Brock Larson. It's been the best thing to ever happen to me. The guy is a godsend. It's amazing training with that caliber of people. Guys like Brock, Carey Vanier, (Josh Janousek), Nate Schut. But I'm not just training with Brock. I'm training all over. I was at Ambition for a summer. They were awesome guys. Joey Clark is a good friend and an amazing wrestler. I've trained with Sergio Cunha at the Fight Factory. I still go down there when I can. I just bought a house, which was terrible timing, and it's making things tougher. But yeah, I'm usually gone each day from 6 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. every night. It gets busy. Saturdays I'm usually dealing with house stuff. It's not good timing, but I found three acres out in the country, and I'm a country boy, so I fell in love with the place. I jumped right in. I have a lot of shit going on now, but I'm still training all over the place.

That's good to hear. It's nice when people can jump around from gym to gym without all the drama.

MCDONOUGH: Yep, and you're only as good as your training partners. You need to train with the best to be the best. And I don't get all the drama. It makes no sense. Why don't we cause beef with another state instead of causing beef with other fighters in Minnesota? I mean, let's pick on Iowa or Nebraska. We all need to put our egos aside here in Minnesota, because we can all make each other better. You need good bodies to train with. Personally, I love the camaraderie. That's why I wanted to keep competing. So many of my great friends are from the MMA community.

What do you know about your opponent, Beto Cerano?

MCDONOUGH: Not much. But it doesn't matter. I'm going in there to implement my game plan. I don't care who I'm fighting. So often you have to improvise anyway. I honestly haven't had time to do much research on him. I haven't even asked (Gavin) about him. Brock said he doesn't know who he is. But I don't care. I think he has a mustache. Maybe I'll knock his mustache off. No, I'm sure he's a good dude. But I'm not much for developing a game plan just for one guy.

How tough is it to balance two full-time jobs?

MCDONOUGH: Well, I started working at C.H. Robinson last year as a Carrier Development Manager. I wanted to prove myself there and get acclimated. I'm an incredibly competitive person. So I wanted to make more money, prove myself and show them I'm 100 percent committed. And then I train twice a day, while still working 45-50 hours a week. But I couldn't work with a greater group of people. I'm extremely lucky to have passions for two careers. I'm also lucky that I work like two blocks from a gym, so I can work out on my lunch break.

What's kept you out of the cage for so long?

MCDONOUGH: I've been kind of injury plagued. But I blame myself for that. I wasn't 100 percent committed. I was going up and down in weight a lot. And that's hard on your body. I would train real hard for three months, and then after I'd have the fight, I'd take a month off and gain like 30 to 40 pounds. Then I'd do it all over again. I'd take a month to get back in shape, then a couple months to get where I needed to be for fighting. Then repeat. But I had a bad back injury that kept me out for a while. That's healed up 100 percent. Then I injured my foot right before I was supposed to return in August. That's close to 100 percent now, too.

Are you excited to show off what you've learned in the last year?

MCDONOUGH: Oh yeah. I like to kick a lot, and nobody knows that because most of my past fights have gone to the ground. Really, nobody has seen my standup yet. I feel, with me going to Damage Inc. a couple days a week, with Brock in Annandale (at Blitz) and then back with Brock in Brainerd at Warriors Alliance once a week, my skills have all improved. People consider me a wrestler, but I'm excited to show off the standup.

Has it been a humbling experience to train with a UFC vet like Brock Larson?

MCDONOUGH: Well, the dude's the nicest dude in the world. I get to train one-on-one with him, and that's something people would pay big money for, so I'm very lucky. I have mad respect for the guy. It's funny, when I first went in there with him, I thought I was pretty good. I thought I was on that level, especially on the ground. But the first couple of times I rolled with Brock, he submitted me like 4,328.4 times. So yeah, I was pretty much forced to leave my ego on the table. Man, that was a wakeup call. So for the last year, I haven't been able to fight, but I've been training my ass off. I'm a whole new fighter. And Brock is a huge part of that. I've matured as a fighter. I'm doing things the right way. Plus, now things are different when I roll with Brock. I feel like I can give him a good body to train with.

You already have another fight scheduled for after Saturday. You're fighting on the King of the Cage pay-per-view event at Jackpot Junction in Morton. Do you know who you fight yet?

MCDONOUGH: Yeah, rumor has it I'm fighting Jay Wood. He's from the Academy. I've seen him fight before. He's a wrestler from Omaha. I've got a lot of respect for him. We both train with great camps, and we're both good on the ground. We're both undefeated. So it sounds like a good fight. It's a good test. He's a good fighter, so let's get it on.

Is there any hesitation on your part, stepping into the cage after such a long layoff?

MCDONOUGH: Honestly, no. Mentally, I'm at a better state than I've ever been before. I do realize it's been a long time since I fought, but my training camp has gotten insurmountably better. I get so many different looks at different gyms, I know I'm a much better fighter. Brock has elevated my game so much. This game is 90 percent mental anyway, and I'm probably more mentally ready to fight than I've ever been. I'm out to prove something. I'm out to prove I'm a serious contender. I want to show people I've evolved and grown as a fighter. Also, this is a chance to start over. I really do feel like I'm starting my career all over again.

And who do you need to thank?

MCDONOUGH: First thing, I'd like to thank family, friends and fans for all the support. I'd like to thank Clyde Lewis for introducing me to MMA. I'd definitely like to thank all of my training partners, including all of the gyms that welcome me with open arms. I appreciate that more an anything. All of those gyms have been there for me, and they've all helped me get to where I'm at now. You are only as good as your training partners, and I get to roll with the best. I need to say a special thank you to Brock Larson. A huge thank you. He's been a great friend and a great supporter of me. He's the greater trainer. He's elevated my game. It's been one of the best things for my career to be a part of his training camp, helping him get ready for fights. I know this one is cliche, but I need to thank my girlfriend. We've been together for three years, and I don't know how I would do it without her. She keeps my wheels turning. And my last thank you has to go to my Pops, the old man. He's the whole reason I'm fighting. He was bringing me to sporting activities since I was like 4. I have a lot of respect for him. He was never an athlete himself. He gave me a life he had to work for. Sometimes it was the school of hard knocks, and we didn't always see eye-to-eye. But he's always been there for me.