As the tenth season of the UFC’s hit reality series The Ultimate Fighter gets underway this week on Spike TV, you will see some very large men all competing for a chance to win a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
One of these large heavyweights is six-foot 240-pound Jon Madsen. He is a little different than most guys who come on the show. Madsen lives in The H.I.T. Squad fighter dorms, so transferring into a house full of fighters where he has to share the bathroom and kitchen was not a huge adjustment.
PROMMA.INFO spoke to Jon this week about his experience on the show and what he gained from the opportunity. He also filled us in on his wrestling background, what’s going on with The H.I.T. Squad, and why he went straight into professional MMA with no amateur bouts. We also talked about lasagna.
TUF 10 interview: JON MADSEN
PRO MMA: What you been up to today, training?
JON MADSEN: Yep, just back in the gym. Going to get a quick lift in and just relax until pro class tonight.
PRO MMA: Now are you still at The H.I.T. Squad?
JON MADSEN: Yessir. I’ve been there since Feb. 26, 2007.
PRO MMA: Now you went straight into fighting professionally with no amateur fights is that right?
JON MADSEN: Yep, yep.
PRO MMA: Was that your decision or your coach’s, how did that happen?
JON MADSEN: Probably my coach. I came here with a good wrestling background and he was like, your wrestling is too good for you to be going amateur. He said we might as well just throw you right in to pro. So I was like alright, teach me some shit and let’s do it.
PRO MMA: That’s pretty cool man. That doesn’t happen to a lot of people. So what exactly is your wrestling background?
JON MADSEN: I was a four-time state placer in high school (third, second, first, first). Then I was runner-up in a high school national tournament out in Pittsburgh, Penn. And then a three-time Division Two All-American, and then a one-time National Champ in 2000 – Division Two.
PRO MMA: Nice. And how old are you now?
JON MADSEN: Twenty-nine.
PRO MMA: We’re getting ready for The Ultimate Fighter season 10. Are you pretty excited to see how everything turned out?
JON MADSEN: Yeah I am. I’m real curious to see how they put it all together. After being there in the house, you have no idea what they’re going to edit, what they’re going to put in there. So yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to it. Get to go home and hang out with the family and friends and enjoy the night.
PRO MMA: How was the whole experience of being cooped up with all the guys for that long?
JON MADSEN: You know, it really wasn’t that bad. I did miss a little human interaction besides seeing those same guys every day but other than you had great food, a fun place to live, and great training, so it was great.
PRO MMA: You have lived in the dorms at The H.I.T. Squad so was it similar to that in some ways?
JON MADSEN: I definitely think it was an advantage for me coming from the situation I have been in for the last year and a half living here at The H.I.T. Squad fighting dorms. You know, sharing a kitchen…I was used to a messy kitchen so I went into it expecting the same. But actually I was really surprised. We kept the place pretty clean and we really didn’t have a big mess until the last two days. People were starting to say “fuck it” and thinking we’re leaving anyway.
PRO MMA: Who are some of the heavyweights there at The H.I.T. Squad you get to roll and spar with?
JON MADSEN: That’s one of the things about this gym, I’m the only heavyweight here. We’ve had a few guys come in. We haven’t had anybody stay consistently…but you know I’ve been learning a lot from working with Robbie and Matt. There’s an advantage to working with smaller guys. You get used to the speed and they definitely move a lot more than heavyweights would. But the down side of that is you’re not feeling the weight and you’re not feeling the strength of a heavyweight.
PRO MMA: That must have been a good advantage for going on the show, getting the chance to get in there with some really big guys?
JON MADSEN: Oh absolutely, that’s what I’ve been telling everybody. That’s probably the most positive thing from the show; is that I had seven consistent big guys to train with. From Roy Nelson, and Marcus Jones, you know those guys are just huge. So having those guys to train with was definitely a great experience.
PRO MMA: Was there anybody in the house that got on your nerves more than the other?
JON MADSEN: Definitely. Definitely. I don’t know if I’m supposed to divulge names about that or not. But I’m sure it will come out in the show. There’s one guy that definitely got on my nerves and I think he got on just about everybody’s nerves about the same. I’m sure it will come out in the show.
PRO MMA: Ok, I did hear one incident about some lasagna that they guys had cooked and they were hungry but you wanted them to wait and let it cool off first. (laughs) Can you talk a little bit about that?
JON MADSEN: (Laughs) Awww….Yeah, we made two store bought lasagnas and they both got done, and actually they come out so hot and the cheese is still melted. And my mom always told me you gotta let it set for at least half an hour, forty-five minutes and let it cool and let it harden and it will come out in one piece. The first guys cut into theirs, and I grabbed one of them and said hey I’m gonna let this one sit and I’m gonna try to do it the way my Mom told me to do it. And they dug in and put it on their plate and it flopped all over and just looked like a pile of mush. And I cut mine up and I thought mine stayed together a lot better than the other one but I guess some didn’t think so.
PRO MMA: Yeah, lasagna is always better the next day it seems like.
JON MADSEN: Yeah.
PRO MMA: Well, besides getting to train with the heavyweights, what else did you take away from the show?
JON MADSEN: Just the work ethic of some of the guys that are already in the game. You see Rashad and Rampage and being in that training facility and looking at all those pictures on the walls of all the former champs and champs today and it just gives you a sense of pride and a strong sense that you want to work hard and leave your mark on the sport.
PRO MMA: Did you come away feeling like you had made a good friend with anyone in the house?
JON MADSEN: Yeah, you know I actually went into the house thinking I’m just gonna come in there and not come away with any friendships you know what I’m sayin’? But Scott Junk and Marcus Jones are two guys I got along with really well. I’ve texted Scotty a few times and I actually just talked to Marcus last night. I keep in touch with them and plan on keeping in touch with them for awhile. So definitely I made a few friendships out of it, so that was good.
PRO MMA: Yeah I talked to Scott a few days ago (see PROMMA.INFO’s exclusive with Scott Junk), he seems like a really cool guy.
JON MADSEN: Yeah, funny, funnier than shit.
PRO MMA: So what’s next for you? What’s going to happen here in the next few months?
JON MADSEN: Just let the show play it’s way through and I’m just going to stay in the gym and keep my nose to the grindstone and keep working and trying to improve and be ready and see what happens.
PRO MMA: How long do you plan on staying in the dorms there?
JON MADSEN: I haven’t really planned that far ahead. Obviously, it would be nice to have my own place and have a little more privacy I guess, but it’s really not that bad. I’ve got my own room over there and rent’s cheap. I’m literally about a hundred yards from the gym. You have no excuse for missing a workout that’s for sure.
PRO MMA: How long do you have to wait before you can take a fight?
JON MADSEN: We can’t compete until December.
PRO MMA: I know everybody’s anxious to see this season. It seems it’s getting more hype, and I think people are looking more forward to this season than they have in a long long time.
JON MADSEN: That’s awesome. I hope people do enjoy it and I think it will be a good thing to watch as well.
PRO MMA: I wish you the best man, is there anyone you want to thank before we let you go?
JON MADSEN: Oh man I’ve got a ton of people I need to thank: The H.I.T. Squad here, Marc Fiore, my agent Dave Martin. I’d like to really thank the Augustana Wrestling Team in Sioux Falls South Dakota. I started training with them in October 2006 to get in shape before I ever came to this gym and they opened their doors and welcomed me in and were really behind me. So I’d like to thank them guys. They’re kicking off the rest of their wrestling season now so I’d like to wish them luck and I look forward to going back home and seeing everybody.
PRO MMA: Well, tell Marc we said hi and keep up the good work and we hope to see you in the future.
JON MADSEN: Thanks I appreciate it.
By: Jack Bratcher