McKenzie beat Marcus LeVesseur with his favorite submission Tuesday night at UFC on FUEL TV 3, finishing the bout at the 3:05 mark of the first round. The Alaska native had won nine straight by first-round guillotine coming into “The Ultimate Fighter 12″ then made it an even 10 with a win over Aaron Wilkinson in the live finale.
Losses to Yves Edwards and Vagner Rocha followed, and McKenzie made a few changes. He’s training with the Diaz brothers. And his once-plentiful facial hair is gone.
“I was starting to look too old,” McKenzie said after the event, which took place at Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. “It was turning gray. I’m only 24 years old, and I’ve got gray hair all over. So I finally had to shave everything and start to look my age.”
That’s one indirect sign of the newer, maturing McKenzie. The bigger change is behind the scenes with his new training partners.
“Nathan Diaz helped me a lot with diet,” McKenzie said. “I called him yesterday even after I made weight and asked him what to eat. He’s a very smart guy, him and his brother Nick Diaz. I’ll be making the move from Las Vegas to Stockton very soon.”
So far, he hasn’t caught the Diaz brothers with his signature move.
“Practice is practice – sooner or later, I’m sure I’ll catch them,” McKenzie said. “But overall, a lot of those guys up there just rolled me up into a ball. They’re very good grapplers.”
LeVesseur, a distinguished wrestler making his UFC debut, tried to turn the tables and go for a guillotine of his own.
“He actually did go for a guillotine in a modified style for a little bit,” McKenzie said. “I was just relaxing, kind of seeing what he had. I could tell he was kind of stressed and tight and tense. He was going a little bit too hard. I was just hoping I could weather the storm and catch him later down the road, and it worked out.
“I watched his videos, and he didn’t see as comfortable as I am in there. He’s a tough guy for sure. I don’t want to take anything away from him, I wish him a good career.”
McKenzie, now a relative Octagon veteran, didn’t feel the same tension despite coming into the cage on the dreaded two-fight skid.
“I was a lot calmer for this fight than most of my fights. There’s always pressure any time you’re fighting somebody in the cage, but I was actually pretty calm. A lot of people are like, ‘This is your big shot, this is the UFC, this is your chance.’ To me, every fight’s just a fight. I don’t look at too much too seriously.
“You take life too seriously and you turn gray.”