“Danny Boy” Downes is a young, hungry up-and-coming fighting out of the Roufusport camp in Wisconsin.
The 25-year-old fighter was born in Chicago and moved to Wisconsin after college to train and pursue a career as a mixed martial artist. Downes fought twice in the WEC before that company was absorbed in the UFC last winter.
He headlines the North American Fighting Championship’s Mayhem event in Milwaukee on Friday May 6 while waiting to get a shot at fighting in the big show.
Q: Where did you get the Danny Boy nickname?
A: At the gym, I was always the skinny Irish kid. That’s where that came from. I’m not a natural athlete by any means, so I’ve gotten to this point with hard work and toughness, and I’m scrappy kinda like Mickey Ward almost. So that’s how the Danny Boy thing came about. I’m a hard-nosed scrappy type.
Q: You fight at lightweight, and I noticed you are 6-feet tall. Is that a natural weight for you or do you cut to get down to 155?
A: I have to cut. I just have a thinner frame. So I think lightweight is the best weight for me to train at. As I get older, I’m only 25 now, I may move to welterweight. I think right now lightweight is the best for me especially because I usually have a height advantage. I don’t think you will ever see me going to featherweight or below. I know that guys like George Roop do it but I already have to cut to make 155 so that is not for me.
Q: I see you train at Duke Roufus’ gym. Who else besides Pat Barry trains there?
A: It’s me, Pat Barry, Anthony Pettis, Eric Cope. Alan Belcher comes in from time to time, and we also just got Ben Askren. We got a bunch of up-and-coming guys that people haven’t heard of. It’s really grown. There was a time for a while a few years ago when it was just me a couple other guys fighting and goin’ so it was kinda hard. It’s different now, and it's fun to have guys like Anthony and Eric on that high level which makes everyone better.
Q: I was reading that Pat was pretty down after his last fight because he couldn’t put Beltran away. Has he gotten past that?
A: It’s what they say with baseball hitters how they have to have a short memory. It’s the same way with fighters. Everyone wants to finish fights but let it bother you. He can’t worry about Joey Beltran when he has Cheick Kongo coming up in June. He’s already forgotten about it. You gotta have that short memory. You can’t let setbacks drag you down. You just gotta go on to the next one.
Q: Your record is 7-1. Was that loss early in your career or was that recently?
A: It was at WEC 49 against Chris Horodecki. I got a call on that Tuesday from my manager and he asked me where what my weight was at. And I was thinking I probably have a fight coming up on short notice. I figured it was local Wisconsin fight or something and he asked me if I was to fight Chris Horodecki in Edmonton on the WEC card. The only problem was I was kinda out of shape. I’d been drinking and a few things like that and had let myself go a bit. I was like 178 on Tuesday and made 156 on Saturday. I fought Chris Horodecki in front of however many thousand people on Versus. I didn’t perform that well but it got my foot in the door and then I got that win against Zhang in my next fight last December at WEC 53. Now I got the UFC contract and we’ll see what happens next.
Q: So you are headlining the NAFC Mayhem card correct?
Q: When I was looking it up it said to be announced. Do you know who you are fighting yet?
A: Yea. I fighting a guy named Tory Bogguess. I don’t really know that much about him. You can’t get too bogged down with the little details. I don’t have any recent film on the guy but you can’t worry about that you just got to go out there and perform regardless that is my job. Even in my last fight against Zhang at WEC 53 I watched a lot of tape, but fight went the exact opposite of my gameplan. That’s why in MMA you’ve got to train everything. You try to pigeon hole yourself into any one thing.
Q: Are you more comfortable standing or do you train everything equally?
A: When I started, I was a strike first and then we’ll see what happens on the ground. But, now I’ve changed. GSP is a perfect example of what the modern MMA fighter needs to be. He is great at everything. By being good it opens up a lot of other things. By having good wrestling or jiu jitsu, it opens up my striking and makes it better. The days of the one dimensional MMA fighter is over. Everybody is getting good at everything.
Q: Do you ever travel to a different gym or try out any other schools? I know that guys do that a lot these days.
A: It’s been really nice with the success of our gym. Guys come in and we get new people a lot. I haven’t had to leave. These days they want to train at our gym so it’s like they come to me. The gym has really exploded and we have some new instructors so it’s been really good. You can’t get stale or do the same thing. One you get bored and two you don’t get better. You gotta keep it fresh and keep getting better.