Thursday, August 22, 2013

10 Questions With Justin Scoggins

Justin "Tank" Scoggins

I had first heard about Justin "Tank" Scoggins from my friend Molly Hoskinson early last year when he was fighting for Conflict Promotion's "Fight Night at the Pointe IV". It was Justin's pro debut and he won by an impressive 23 second head kick KO of Timm Kitts. Scoggins was undefeated as an amateur at 6 - 1 (a draw in his first fight) and was the Caged Chaos Bantamweight (ammy) champion after defeating Solon Staley at Caged Chaos III: Wanted. Since turning pro Justin has remained undefeated and is currently 7 - 0 as a professional (13 - 0 - 1 overall) and became the Warfare Flyweight (pro) champion when he defeated Jacob Hebesison at Warfare 7: Invasion. 

Justin fights out of Greenville, SC but also trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL. He recently tried out for the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter even though he's a Flyweight (125lbs) and the season would be featuring both male & female Bantamweight (135lb) fighters. The MMA game is very competitive, so for a fighter to be willing to go 10 pounds up in weight is saying something about their ability & talent. (fighters usually drop down in weight trying to gain an advantage over fighters because of how much the added weight on fight night from cutting weight can mean to the outcome of the fight) Justin wasn't selected to join the TUF18 cast, but he posted on his Facebook page that he had a great time at the tryouts and that the experience he gained while there was very valuable. Based on the most recent news of Scoggins being signed to the UFC as a Flyweight, I'm guessing UFC match-maker Joe Silva  was paying attention and liked what he saw from Justin at the TUF18 tryouts. 

Yesterday "Team Tank" had made the announcement that Justin was signed to fight former Strikeforce & Resurrection Fighting Alliance fighter Dustin Ortiz at UFN 27 (or Condit Vs. Kampmann 2 as the UFC is also calling the event) on August 28th which would have been the Octagon debut for both fighters. But as you'll read in the interview (and confirmed by MMAjunkie & Tapology) the fight has since been pulled from the UFN 27 fight card but no official reason was given by the UFC. The only word so far is that one (or both) fighters "could still make a UFC debut in the near future".

I have never met Justin in person, but I feel like I know him. I have considered myself a fan of his ever since I saw the video of that pro debut 1st round head kick KO win... and I have followed his professional career as he fought for promotions like Conflict & Warfare in South Carolina as Justin was gaining experience, collecting a belt, and making his way to the TUF18 try-outs. I am grateful for friends like Molly Hoskinson & Blake Grice who introduced me to this amazing up-and-coming fighter. 

I had wanted to interview Justin Scoggins for awhile now, but once I heard the news about him being signed to the UFC I realized I needed to stop procrastinating & contact him about doing an interview. I realized this is probably a crazy/hectic week for him & his family (but in a good way), but I sent him a message asking if he'd be willing to participate in a quick interview. It was a pleasant surprise when I received an almost immediate response from Scoggins where he agreed to be interviewed. I sent him the questions & he was kind enough to respond to them the same day. It was only a error in my email system that I didn't realize that the responses came back last night... so when I saw them in my inbox this morning I got to work right away working on this article.

In my opinion this show amazing character that Justin would take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions, and I appreciate the swift response from "Tank" to help make this interview possible. If you haven't heard of Justin "Tank" Scoggins before this interview, you soon will. His Octagon debut may have been delayed, but it won't be long before the UFC 125lb Flyweight division will see the talent, drive and determination of Scoggins. I predict it won't be long before Justin is challenging for Demetrious Johnson's Flyweight title.

1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Justin Scoggins. I am a 21 years old Flyweight. professional. My overall record is 13 - 0 (6 - 0 amateur 7 - 0 professional) and I am the current Warfare 125 lb Flyweight (pro) Champion.

2.  How did you get started in MMA?

I started Kempo Karate at age 3. I began wrestling around 8 or 9 years old. And competing in amateur kickboxing at age 11. I knew the goal was to eventually translate it all into MMA

3.  What gym(s) do you train at, and what is it like training there?

I train at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fl. Too many top level athletes and fighters to name. Over 30 UFC fighters I believe. There's not a bigger team of studs. The biggest thing I've realized is how important it is to not get "comfortable" with your training. And down at ATT  there's so many DIFFERENT great fighters to train with, you're always on your toes. I also have the best s&c coach in the business, Brian Harris. Hands down the best. It's just a very friendly place, great to learn, filled with talented coaches and fighters. When I'm back home in Spartanburg, SC I train at Revolution Martial Arts with Coach Jimmy Fowler. It's the best place to train in SC. Jimmy Fowler has a top notch ground game, and Sara McMann (UFC Bantamweight) trains there. And I wouldn't doubt an Olympic Silver Medalist. Another great friendly place to train hard and learn. I also train with 2 amazing stand up coaches back in SC. Blake Grice has really helped me elevate my Muay Thai game, while also being the best referee I've met. Cody Freeland is a Kempo Karate black belt and excellent at incorporating karate into my MMA game. And finally I train with wrestling coach Trent Goodale at Limestone College. Trent is a former Iowa Hawkeye. And a really good friend. I'm lucky to be surrounded by amazing people to train with, but also amazing friends

4.  What do you feel your strengths are as a fighter?  What do you feel you need to work on to be a more complete fighter?

I feel my biggest strength is being able to adapt to the fight no matter what situation I'm put in. I feel like I need to continue doing what I'm doing to become the most complete fighter I can. Training all aspects, everyday. Working every angle.

5.  How did your experience trying out for TUF18 help you develop as a fighter?

It went great. It was an awesome experience and the UFC is truly the most professional organization and handles everything. It definitely helped me mature career-wise. And realize how real this is and how important it is to continue to treat this as a lifestyle.

6.  You are set to fight Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 27. How are you preparing for this fight, and what do you expect from your opponent?

The fight was scratched. Waiting to be scheduled next fight. Ortiz had to pull from the fight. Not sure of exact reasons but he was not approved by Indiana state athletic commission from what I have heard.

7.  If you could fight anyone who would that be?

Honestly, I'm ready to work my way through the ranks, do my time and fight everyone. It's gonna be an awesome ride

8.  Who are some of your role models?

In MMA I've always looked up to Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. Anderson for his striking and attitude, and GSP because of his ability to always come out a winner. Also Jon Jones, for being such a dominate athlete at such a young age. That's what I wanna do. I look up to Sara McMann in MMA and life. She's an incredibly hard worker and the mentally toughest person I know. My parents are role models for me as well. They are truly selfless in the way they've supported my through my life and career. I wouldn't have gotten this far without them.

9.  What are your goals in MMA?

My goal is to be world champion and pound for pound greatest. And I see myself being the best.

10. Is there anyone you would like to thank?

Everyone at American Top Team, Revolution Martial Arts, and the wrestling team at Limestone College. Huge thanks to Mom and Dad, my girlfriend Karly, and my entire family for being so supportive. Thanks to Monte Cox and Chas Bowling of  T.E.A.M. And thank you guys!

At the TUF18 try-outs with Varon Webb (r) & Tim Goodwin (l)

With Jordan Lawson & Hector Urbina

With UFC Middleweight contender Derek Brunson

With TUF14 winner Diego Brandao
With UFC Flyweight contender John Dodson
With UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones
Justin with his family
Justin signing his UFC contract
Justin "Tank" Scoggins Highlights