Two of Zack Micklewright’s three most recent opponents—Bart Palaszewski and Dustin Poirier—are in the UFC.
There’s a pretty good chance that Micklewright, a protégé of Spencer Fisher and Pat Miletich, could also be competing at the highest level of the sport. But fighting—at least in a cage—hasn’t exactly been a priority for the long-time Marine in recent years.
Micklewright, whose father and an older brother spent time in the armed forces, joined the reserves after finishing high school in his native Davenport. The youngest of four children, Micklewright thought about doing everything from firefighting to teaching, but he has spent the better part of the past decade in the Marine Corps. Micklewright served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008—where he primarily worked on fuel system parts for trucks—and is currently overseas with the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 in Africa.
Micklewright doesn’t think that his mixed martial arts career has had much of an impact on his time in the military, but the former WEC lightweight contender conceded that his time spent with the Marines has made quite an impression on his fighting career.
“It’s been positive at some times and negative at other times,” the 26-year-old noted via email from an undisclosed location in Africa. “Scheduling fights around the military can sometimes prove to be challenging. Deployments are obviously negative because it puts my MMA career on hiatus. I think it causes me and other fighters in the military to lose that momentum and have to start all over when we return to MMA.”
Micklewright, whose most recent bout was in April of 2011, uses only one word to describe the current state of his mixed martial artist career—hiatus.
“There’s not much I can do from half way across the world that is going to help my MMA career,” he offered. “I still work out, and I still train when I can. I have a few friends here that like to grapple and hit mitts and stuff.”
Micklewright hopes to return to Davenport—by way of North Carolina’s Camp LeJeune—in time for Thanksgiving. Micklewright noted that it will be “business as usual” when he returns home—excepting a few daytrips on his motorcycle, perhaps—but he intends on focusing his attention on training full-time for the foreseeable future.
“I'm looking to come back and take some time to get back in the mix, build some muscle, and make some noise at welterweight,” he noted.
Micklewright can realistically see himself someday leaving the armed forces to pursue his in-ring ambitions 12 months out of the year. But for the time being, he sees both occupations playing a prominent role in his future.
“I'll probably be in the Marines for as long as I fight, if not longer,” he offered. “I've been in the Marines for over eight years now, so I might as well stick it out and retire. There’s always a chance of me getting sick of the military and sticking totally to fighting, but I don't think it's very practical for me to do that. The military helps me be able to carry out my career in MMA by having an extra income, along with benefits and things.”
Ed Kapp is a Regina, Saskatchewan-based freelance journalist. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations were obtained firsthand.