UFC 161's 'thinking fighter' John Maguire prefers having no game plan


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john-maguire-2.jpgEnglish lightweight John Maguire (18-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Canadian Mitch Clarke (9-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) both are coming off back-to-back losses inside the octagon.

But to Maguire, their common stat doesn’t mean they enter the cage at UFC 161 on even ground.

“Clarke’s dropped two, and he’s not won a fight in the UFC, and he’s fighting in his own home country,” Maguire told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “So I think the pressure is on him.”

Clarke hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is a province west of the pay-per-view event’s host in Winnipeg.

“Of course, there’s pressure on me,” said Maguire, who makes the drop from welterweight. “I’m in a new weight class, but if I fight how I know I can fight, I should be fine.”

Indeed, the Brit is turning over a new leaf in the lightweight division after a 2-2 run at welterweight. He’s a bit more sensitive to jokes about food on fight week. But he’s also trying out a new approach to competing, and he plans to try it out when he meets Clarke on the Facebook-streamed prelims of Saturday’s event, which takes place at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.

“By any means necessary – any way to win,” he said. “No game plan. I always say I’m a thinking fighter. In my last few fights, I’ve taken a backward step and let them dictate it, but I’m going to try to come forward and push the pace.”

Maguire differentiated himself early in his octagon career with an unconventional ground game – dubbed “gypsy jiu-jitsu” after his nomadic background in the U.K. – which he used to earn a “Submission of the Night” bonus in his second UFC bout. But he admits that his job has gotten harder as he’s fought through the ranks.

“But I’m never looking to go to decision,” he said. “I don’t like getting out of the first round because I’m lazy. But the fights that I’ve lost have mostly been decisions. I’m looking to finish this weekend and make a statement.”

On paper, Clarke gives the impression of a submission artist, having won six of his nine fights by way of tap-out. But Maguire believes their recent records aren’t the only unequal things between them going into the fight.

“I’m not the traditional jiu-jitsu guy, so I think my style is a bit awkward to work with,” he said.

Since Clarke has never been submitted in a professional bout, coaxing the tap is just one way for Maguire to prove he’s a cut above his Canadian counterpart.

For the latest on UFC 161, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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