ONE Championship new boy Tyler McGuire will make his debut on Friday, 13 July against veteran Luis “Sapo” Santos at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 32-year-old American is determined to make an impact, both inside and outside the cage.
Born and raised in Iowa, USA, McGuire lived with his single mother, who had him when she was 18. She was his first inspiration, as she encouraged him to chase his dreams with gusto.
“She was awesome,” he says. “She is still awesome. She is still a huge support to me.”
In addition to his hard-working mother, McGuire was also inspired by his grandfather, who ran the family farm while also working as a dispatcher.
“He got up every morning at 4am to take care of the farm,” McGuire explains.
“Then he worked eight hours, and he would come home and do the same thing the next day. His work ethic was second to none.”
McGuire took that same work ethic into his sporting career and his career as a serviceman. He is currently a US Air Force Staff Sergeant in the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) programme.
The American explains how he discovered martial arts after realising he needed extra motivation to get him through his fitness regime. He has his wife to thank, as she introduced him to her cousin, who worked at the famous Miletich Fighting Systems gym in Bettendorf, Iowa.
“I was working out, but I did not really have a carrot, if you will,” he says.
“I thought, ‘That is something I always wanted to try – just to have one mixed martial arts bout to say that I did it.’”
Three months after starting, he stepped into his first-ever amateur bout and won inside 60 seconds.
“I was like, ‘That is three months of training for one minute of action, so I will do one more and see how it goes.’”
His second win also only lasted around a minute, too, and it earned him a title shot, which he took on two days’ notice, and also promptly won. Before he knew it, he had amassed a 6-0 amateur record before heading off to join the Air Force.
That saw him arrive in Spokane, Washington, where he hooked up with his current coach, Rick Little at Sik-Jitsu Fighting Systems.
“He told me I was ready to go pro. I did not really believe him, but I did turn pro, and here we are,” he says.
McGuire’s competitive success as an amateur has carried over to his pro career, as he has raced to a 10-0 record, including eight first-round finishes, as he picked up welterweight titles in the Extreme Challenge and Excite Fight promotions.
In addition to his work in the military and his professional martial arts career, McGuire also competes for more than just himself.
He walks to the cage wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Autistic Kids Rock!” as he shows his support for the children he works with in Iowa schools.
“Working with the kids and seeing the impact you could make drove me into that,” he explains. “We are on a platform, so why not use it for good?
“It seems like every single bout I have, a mother, brother, father, cousin, or somebody comes up and tells me how much it means to them to see that there are people out there spreading awareness. That is really important to me. That is what I am trying to do. As a Christian, our job is to do good.”
Now his journey has taken him all the way to ONE, where he has a chance to showcase his martial arts skills – and his cause – on the world stage for an organisation that shares his values.
“I have a lot of respect for what ONE wants to do. I do not feel like I have to be somebody I am not to progress. I just try to be a humble guy that brings his lunch pail to work, and goes to work,” he says.
“ONE was gracious enough to extend me a contract, so I want to put on a show for them.”