When Michael Guymon steps into the cage to face Rory MacDonald at UFC Fight Night 20 this Monday in Fairfax, Va., he will have completed a roller-coaster ride that few people in this world could fathom, let alone have experienced.
Guymon is smiling these days after signing a four-fight deal with MMA’s biggest organization. Nearly five months ago, however, “The Joker” wasn’t nearly as happy.
On Aug. 11 in Orange County, Calif., following an argument with his wife concerning their upcoming divorce proceedings, Guymon made plans to commit suicide and almost went through with them. Coupled with the fact that Guymon had recently made the decision to pursue fighting full-time while continuing to run his struggling Lake Forest gym, Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy, it was easy to see how the 10-year veteran of the sport was easily stressed.
“Basically, I wanted to write a suicide note and check out,” Guymon said of the fateful day. “I was going to shoot myself and end it all. Everything was getting to me -- the stress of running a business, the fact that my life at home wasn’t going well. It wasn’t good and I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to get out.
“Because of my wife and Jim Amormino ( the Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson), I’m here today. They were able to get me the necessary help I needed to overcome this and find a better place. They saved my life.”
During the dispute with his wife, Guymon grabbed a gun with the intent of using it on himself. Nicole Guymon was able to wrestle the firearm away from her husband, who proceeded to speed off in his truck, unsure of what he’d do next.
Nicole instantly phoned Amormino, also a family friend, who alerted the police department and quickly found Guymon only a few blocks from his home. Guymon told Amormino that he wanted one of the officers on the scene to use deadly force on him.
It took Amormino hours to finally coax Guymon out of harming himself. Guymon was then placed under psychiatric evaluation for 72 hours and was not charged with a crime. He has since reconciled with his wife, noting that the relationship between the two is stronger than ever.
Hoping to jump right back into things, Guymon, the reigning King of the Cage welterweight champion, signed on to fight undefeated prospect Quinn Mulhern just three weeks after the incident. Those close to him were concerned.
“They didn’t want me to fight,” Guymon said. “I was injured. I was overweight. Everyone was telling me that it was too soon after what happened and I wasn’t ready. But I knew what I had to do. I wanted to prove people wrong.”
In what amounted to Guymon’s most important career win to date, he punished Mulhern over four rounds, handing the prospect his first professional loss.
Four days later, Guymon received a phone call that he never would have expected. His manager, Chris Palmquist, was informing him that he was headed to the UFC.
“It’s a dream,” Guymon said. “Ten years of hard work and sacrifice paying off. Everything that I went through was now worth it because I achieved my ultimate dream. It all makes sense now.
“I remember when I got the call, I sat there for a second and I actually laughed,” he continued. “Then I started to cry hysterically, cried hysterically for hours. It still feels like I’m dreaming. I just feel so lucky and so blessed to have gotten to this point.”
Guymon makes his promotional debut against a fellow newcomer in MacDonald, a young, undefeated Canadian sensation that sports a flawless 9-0 record and has finished every single one of his opponents to date.
“I don’t really know too much about Rory,” said Guymon. “He’s only 20, but that must mean that he’s in the UFC already for a reason. He’s obviously earned the spot. There are no cans at 170 pounds in the UFC. The division is completely stacked and for him to have arrived so quickly is a testament to his ability. I’m not going to underestimate him or anyone at welterweight.”
In preparation for the bout, Guymon has been perfecting his craft at his academy, which he was able to relocate to a brand-new facility late last year alongside training partners Mark Munoz, Tim McKenzie, and Jason Lambert. Guymon also made a trip to Black House in Los Angeles to sharpen his skills with UFC middleweight champion and known finisher Anderson Silva.
“I just want to end this fight,” said Guymon. “Whether it ends on the feet or on the ground, it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll take what I can get. I see the fight either ending very quickly or being an absolute war for three rounds. Regardless of what happens, I’m still visualizing myself with my hand raised in the end.”
With his new found platform as a member of the UFC roster, Guymon hopes to inspire others out there who have thought about suicide by sharing his story.
“I want to turn what happened with me into a bright spot and help those who have also dealt with a situation similar to mine,” Guymon said. “I’m very open about what happened. I want to help others. No one should give up. Good things can happen. I’m living proof.”