In one of MMA’s most talent rich and exciting divisions, competition is fierce and bouts are often times heart breaking in defeat. Fortunately defeat is something that Bellator’s newest young gun WW champion, Lyman Good is yet to be familiar with.
Still youthful in his early 20’s and with an impressive undefeated record of 10-0. The future is bright and potentially limitless for one of MMA’s fastest rising stars.
Recently crowned the first ever Bellator WW champion after winning the Bellator WW tournament, heavy hitting and never quitting, Lyman Good talks about his career, childhood and fighting outside the UFC in this one on one exclusive two part interview.
ANTHONY ASCUE: And we are joined here today with Bellator WW champion, Lyman Good. Lyman thank you very much for doing this.
LYMAN GOOD: Thank you for having me.
AA: Now you are born and raised in the city that never sleeps, the big apple, New York. Which is on the cross hairs of every MMA org and fan right now. That is on every MMA promoter’s Christmas list. I have to ask, what’s the MMA scene like in New York right now?
LG: As far as fan base goes I feel it’s starting to integrate. People are definitely starting to learn more about it and become educated in the sport and the rules. It’s definitely growing here.
AA: Do you feel as though mixed martial arts will have a solidified place in New York in the immediate future? I know that is what many promotions and people are trying to get accomplished right now.
LG: Yeah, I would think the next big change for MMA would be going to New York. It would be great for the sport and the city, and financially it would help the city out as well. So it’s something that definitely needs to and will happen.
AA: Well said, now you are a fighter in a city that doesn’t regulate the sport that you fight in. And with you and guys like Matt Serra being fighters in a city that doesn’t support the sport that you’re in, to you…what does it mean to be a fighter? And does it change anything for you at all to not get the home town support?
LG: To be honest, being a fighter means more to me than the actual fight itself. And wherever that fight may take place. Fights last 15-25 minutes and are a representation of every moment that you had to go through to get to where you are. That’s the fight.
But it’s all the things that you go through to get there that really boil down the core of the fighter. The discipline, the respect, the honor, the humility, every aspect that you’re instilled upon to get to the fight, that’s what being a fighter means to me. Everything else is secondary.
AA: Now of course you are one of MMA’s fastest rising stars. Your name is starting to get thrown around, and there’s a bit of a buzz starting to generate toward you. 10 straight wins, first ever Bellator WW champion, very impressive accolades for someone who is still under the age of 25.
Have you started to notice anything different about your career now that you’re starting to gain some public interest?
LG: Yeah. My last fight definitely got me a little notoriety as a fighter. But it’s not the be all, end all or anything. I do feel though that there is a difference in credibility between where I’m at now and where I was at the start of my career.
AA: Do you feel more pressure to put on better performances now with more eyes paying attention to you?
LG: I think so. But I also think it all depends on the fighter. Some fighters will let that bother them, some fighters won‘t. There’s always going to be pressure, it just depends on how you handle it. For me it’s just a matter of staying on the task at hand. It’s about me, my training and my opponent.
AA: And speaking about you, where do you feel you stand in the overall WW scheme of things? I mean ranking wise, where do you feel you stand right now?
LG: I don’t know, I want to say that I’m at the bottom, only because it’ll make me work harder to get to the top. But as far as rankings go, I don’t really pay much attention to that.
AA: Fair enough. And now to change gears a bit, as I understand, you’re not only a fighter but you’re a coach as well for a martial arts school in Manhattan, is that correct?
LG: Yes. That is correct.
AA: And how long have you been coaching for now?
LG: About three years now. It’s going on three.
AA: So what got you into coaching?
LG: It’s one of those things that early on as a student you start to learn the benefit of having a good coach. And in the process it makes you want to learn more from the community and give more back to the community as well.
AA: And how are things working out with the gym?
LG: It’s going good. Everyday we got new students coming in and acquiring about classes and wanting to enrol and learn more about martial arts. And the great thing about it is that it’s not always about fighting.
You know we get students of all caliber that come here to participate in martial arts for many reasons. Maybe it’s stress release, or to learn self defense, or to gain some confidence, so there’s many reasons.
And the great thing about what I do is now I get to give back all the teachings that was taught to me. You know all the things that I’ve learned I try to instill onto my students. So it’s very rewarding.
AA: And is this something that you see yourself doing after your fight career is over?
LG: Definitely. That’s both my short and long term goal in life. I always want to teach. Like I’ve said earlier, I always want to give back all the things that were given to me.
AA: Now it’s well documented that while growing up, you’ve had a bit of a rough childhood. And it was actually your mother that got you into martial arts, at a young age. I mean coming from your experience with all the things you’ve had to over come and go through as a kid, how did martial arts begin to change you as a person?
LG: Martial arts, I think, is really about the diligence of someone’s character. So for me, when I got off the streets and started training, there was just a lot of things that really tested me as a person. It’s a matter of learning and as a kid I learned a lot from martial arts, and from my mother.
I learned never to give up from my mom. And that lesson and mentality has really tested me as a person. It tested my tenacity to want to get better. It tested my patience. It tested me both as a person and as a fighter.
You know as much as being a fighter is both physical and mental, I believe that as human beings that we’re all mental and emotional creatures. So those lessons you learn that shape your character, definitely define you as a person in whatever it is you do with your life. For me it was fighting.
AA: And in the midst of all that training and evolution into adulthood, was there ever a moment where you felt that this was something that you could do as a living. That competing in martial arts and MMA was a viable option to financially support yourself?
LG: Yeah. The longer I kept doing this the more my path became clear to me. As I started getting better, I felt as though that I was good at it and this was what I had to be doing. Not just because I was good at it but because this was where my heart was at.
And you should always follow what your heart is leading you to. If your heart’s not into something you definitely shouldn’t be doing it.
AA: And when you came to this realization, and maybe even before, who were the guys that you looked up to? I mean as a young man, who were your role models that you saw and said, "That’s who I want to be like."
LG: To be honest, very few people. I’ve had very few role models in my life. It’s been written about me that I’ve had a very rough childhood and as far as role models go, I didn’t have many to look up to. But if there was one source of light that I had at the time, it would always be my mother.
She raised three kids on her own, she busted her ass and worked hard as hell just to make sure that we were fed, for at least that one day, at a time when we were getting tossed around from shelter to shelter.
I mean there was never any question or doubt about it, she always gave herself to us, and for me it was always like damn you know, where did she get that type of strength from?
AA: So with clearly all of the positive changes that your mother and martial arts have given you in your life, I mean what do you say to the parents and people that still look at a sport like MMA as a barbaric bloodsport and as a bad image for kids and society?
LG: I think they’re wrong. Completely. A lot of what goes into a fight, between the people who take part in one professionally, is heart and conditioning and sacrifice. It’s a lot of the things that make a person strong.
All this sport really is, is two people at their best being put against each other. It’s years and months of training for the opportunity to showcase your abilities and reward yourself for your hard work and sacrifices.
I don’t see it as barbaric at all.
AA: And speaking of people’s views on the sport, what do you think of the fans of MMA today? Do you feel that they’re progressing and evolving with the sport and learning what they should about it?
LG: Absolutely. Like I said earlier, I feel that MMA is definitely starting to integrate. It’s definitely more broadcasted, more advertised. People are getting more accustomed to it and they’re starting to learn more about it. Which is important because it helps them learn more about what goes into the fight. So yeah people are definitely learning more about the sport now.
AA: Now I think it’s safe to say that most casual MMA fans are mostly just familiar with the UFC. As they seem to be the flagship for mixed martial arts right now. What’s it like to fight in one of the organizations outside of the giant that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship?
Do you ever feel as though you’re fighting under their shadow?
LG: I wouldn’t say that I feel under their shadow, no. The UFC just has its course and notoriety for how long it’s been around. But fighting for the UFC and fighting outside of the UFC all lead you on the same road. It’s just a different course you’re taking to the end.
I mean in the UFC, you can have a fighter that has that credibility because he’s in that company, and it’s seen by an executive in the back that’s mulling over who is going to fight who and how they’re going to market it. And you have that versus a smaller org where maybe the fans are maybe more connected to the fighters in the bouts. And they know the backgrounds and story and you’re able to have a household name because of that.
I mean take Bellator for example. They’re a company that gives the fighters a lot of control. Then in the UFC, which I have nothing against, but over there I feel that it has more to do with strings being pulled, and who’s more famous and all that stuff. Compared to who really deserves it. You know, who really deserves that title shot.
AA: And with Bellator in mind, seeing organizations like Bellator, Affliction, Dream, StrikeForce, and whatever have you, seeing those organizations open up shop and put on big events, do you feel as though more MMA fans are starting to open their eyes to more MMA outside of the UFC?
LG: Yeah I do. I mean with all the new organizations opening up, you know if anything it creates great adversity between the fighters. And per organization with great fights and notoriety because of them, it singles out who is the best. Or at least the best in that organization. Which can create a household name.
And to the fans credit, they are doing a great job of getting to know more about the fighters and where they’re fighting in and who they’ve fought. So that knowledge can lead to more overall depth in talent and spawn more household names. Which is always good for business.
AA: And with that in mind, and speaking of household names, you yourself are at the cusp of possibly being one in the very near future. Certainly an organization like the UFC can help with that process. Tell me, what are your thoughts on possibly fighting for the UFC one day?
LG: I’m still thinking about that. It’s an ongoing thought process in my head as far as that being a possibility in my career. Right now I’m just taking it one step at a time.
To tie this in with one of the things I’ve said before, I’ll never be complacent. I’ll always put myself at the bottom because it makes me work that much harder to get to the top. So if the UFC is the pinnacle then I feel like I have time to achieve it. Like there’s always going to be time further down my career. For now I need to improve, and get better.
But when the time is right, it will definitely happen.
... (to be continued in Pt. two)