Interview: Artenas “Machine Gun” Young

I came to the realization that this is my career.  This is my life“


Artenas “Machine Gun” Young

Interview by: Richard Burmaster

Photos by: Barry Laminack

Artenas “œMachine Gun” Young has a bad case of split personalities. Where you are, can determine which one of his personalities that you might meet. If you’re a friend or teammate at the gym, then you know “Chico”, the guy who would give you the shirt off of his back if he thought it would make you smile.

From the moment “Chico” walks into a room, he gets your attention. Whether he is talking with his teammates or just introducing himself to a new gym member, he sets himself apart because he makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room.  You hardly ever see him without his teammates or a smile, and he always takes the time to ask how you are doing.

If you happen to be standing across the cage from him, then you are about to meet “Machine Gun.”  He is one of the rising stars on the Houston MMA scene.  He has hand speed and power that can end your night sooner than you hoped.  “Machine Gun” doesn’t back down, but he’s not foolish in the ring either.  He’s got the power to end the fight, and he has the skill and technique to go the distance if needed.

It’s not just Young’s personality that can change.  As a fight gets closer, you can notice small changes in his appearance as well. The smile is still there, but his eyes have changed. They narrow, and he seems more focused and determined with each workout.  He seems to lock in, and it’s obvious that he’s focused with his mind on one goal, winning.   When you see that focus, then you know the switch has been flipped, and Chico is no where to be found. Only the Machine Gun remains.

I caught up with Chico at Hoger MMA, during one of his workouts.

ChicoYoung_IMG_5772 ChicoYoung_IMG_5881 ChicoYoung_IMG_5856 ChicoYoung_IMG_5838 How did you get started in MMA?

Artenas: Really it just started as a thought. I was 250lbs, and I was through playing football.  I had watched it a few times, and I really wanted to get into it. So I looked around and found Sam Hoger, and that was the begging of the legend. Ha-ha. What brought you to Houston from California?

Artenas: I had come to the south a few years back a couple of times looking at different colleges here and in Mississippi. The economy was good at the time.   I loved the area, and it was a good time to buy houses. I had met Sam and the team.  I fell in love with my teammates and mixed martial arts, so I decided to settle down and buy a house here. Now this is home. What attracted you to working with Sam [Hoger]?

Artenas: At the time, I really didn’t know much about the sport.  I had seen it on TV a few times, and I had wrestled in high school, so I thought I would try it. I looked around town for the best trainer, and that was Sam Hoger at the Miletich Camp.  I thought, “great name and camp with a high profile coach”, so I went to the gym to try it out.  I walked in, and it was like coming home on Thanksgiving. Sam welcomed me with open arms, and I knew he was the coach for me. The last time we saw you was at the Lonestar Beatdown, where you won the 205lb amateur title with a highlight reel KO of Raul Jiminez. What have you been up to since then, and when can we expect to see you again?

Artenas: That was a great show.  That was a great fight for me. If you didn’t get there to see it, you have to find it online. (Laughs)  I‘ve been training hard since then. The win kind of put me into a weird place in my career where I had to really dig down deep, and I came to the realization that this is my career.  This is my life. I am looking to make waves at 185lbs.  It won’t be easy to make 185 coming from 215, but with discipline and sacrifice I’m going to do it. When you are not putting other fighters to sleep what do you do in your free time?

Artenas: I should be putting myself to sleep in my free time, but I actually rap. Armed and Dangerous is our name.  It has nothing to do with weapons. My mouth is my weapon. We performed right after the Machida fight, and I have another concert coming up next weekend. I am either performing, or training to fight. That’s what I do. What is a bigger goal for you, hit record or a title belt?

Artenas: That’s a tough question. Wow.  If I had to choose one tonight, I am going to take the title belt. I love music, and I am a fan of all music, don’t get me wrong, but I loved holding that Lonestar Beatdown title belt above my head. Hell, I sleep with that belt!

ChicoYoung_IMG_5883 ChicoYoung_IMG_5858 ChicoYoung_IMG_5832 ChicoYoung_IMG_5780 Who are your favorite fighters to watch?

Artenas: I know this might hurt some people since I train at Jackson’s and at Hoger.  I really love Rashard, but I really love watching Rampage. That’s my man. I love watching him get out there and bang. I also like Donald “Cowboy” Ceronne. I really try to mimic his style sometimes.  I wish I could mimic his style. He is a great fighter who is just relentless, and he has ridiculous technique.  There are a lot of guys out there who I really like to watch, both strikers and grapplers, but being a wrestler I really like how Rampage mixes in wrestling with his style. What do you think about the Rampage Persona outside of the cage?

Artenas: He really is something else. I believe Rampage really comes into his character in the public eye. That’s not the same guy who goes home and kisses his mom on the holidays. You have to love him. Your teammates here at Hoger MMA have had nothing but great things to say about you as a teammate. What is it like to have such a close knit group as your training partners?

Artenas: That’s our main foundation here at Hoger MMA. Our closeness comes from Sam. He keeps us like a family. We don’t let any of the ego’s separate us. He keeps us real close, and that family is priceless to me. No matter what weight class you are, how big you are, or how strong you are, we have a group were we all get treated equal, and we treat each other equal. New guy, old guy it’s all the same. We share techniques, and we bang hard.  We knock each other lose, and it’s still all good. That’s priceless. Outside of the cage you are one of the humblest and nicest people I have had the pleasure of speaking with.  Inside the cage you are a scary beast.  At what point do you flip the switch to the Machine Gun setting?

Artenas: First of all, I appreciate you saying that because I do try to stay humble. God gets all the glory. Usually the day of weigh-ins (or maybe a couple of days before) is when I become the Machine Gun. I’m still trying to have a little fun, but I am the Machine Gun.  I try to become this entity, the machine Gun Man, and I don’t leave that realm until after the fight. You train with a very experienced fighter in Sam Hoger at Team Hoger MMA. Tell us what its like to have him as a coach.

Artenas: It’s like a dream. I came from fighting on the streets constantly, unfortunately, but that’s what it was. Then I meet Sam, and a year later I have a light heavyweight belt.  It all comes from him. I give him a lot of the praise for my success, but of course glory goes to God first. Sam is great.  He is a stickler for the details, and he is very hard on us when it comes to good technique. He has taken me to new levels.  I am approaching my blue belt in BJJ, so I’m coming along.

ChicoYoung_IMG_5930 ChicoYoung_IMG_5865 ChicoYoung_IMG_5931 ChicoYoung_IMG_5905 Do you have any advice for young fighters just now starting?

Artenas: Although I am a young fighter myself, young fighters just need to stay focused. Being a fighter cannot be just a hobby. You have to dedicate yourself to it. You have to enjoy the pain. There is so much pain and sacrifice involved.  This week is Thanksgiving week, and everyone will be drinking and eating and having a good time.  I will be eating vegetables and drinking water. So it takes a lot of dedication and discipline if you want to make it in this sport. There is going to be a lot of criticism and distractions, but you just have to stay grounded. At your fights it’s very easy to find your family. Your mom is the sweetest loudest lady in the building. What does it mean to you to have her there supporting you?

Artenas: That’s something else. A lot of mom’s would be like “I don’t want to see this” cause this is a very violent sport from the spectator’s view of it. My Mom respects fighting as an art, and she sees everything that I put into it.  To be honest with you she is my backbone.  She gives me that drive, and it’s great to have her there. I can always hear her over the crowd. She is always the first one in and the last one out. She cries. She screams.  She yells. It’s easy to find my mom out there. [Laughs] It is hard for people to fully understand the training and dedication you put into each fight. What keeps you motivated to come to the gym day after day?

Artenas: I ask myself that question often. [Laughs] But it really boils down to the people I have surrounding me. I’m in a good place, and I have met good people here at Hoger MMA.  My family keeps me motivated, and they believe in me, and help me believe in myself. I get up everyday knowing that I will let someone down besides my self if I don’t get out there and work hard. Lyoto Machida has an unordinary training secret of drinking his own urine. Is that the secret to your success too?

Artenas: I tried to one up him.  Believe it or not I tried to eat my own poo.  But it didn’t make me mean it just made me sick. [Laughs] So no I just stick to vegetables and protein. Do you have any words for your fans?

Artenas: Yes, I love them! I bust my ass for them .Anyone who knows me knows that I love my fans. I am a fan of the machine Gun too. I hope I give all my fans those moments where they look at each other and say” did you see what the Machine Gun just did?” I pray all my fans stick with me, Look for the shirts, the hats, the beanies, and the toothbrushes. That’s right Machine Gun toothbrushes are coming soon.  Toenail clippers everything! [Laughs] Anyone you want to thank or mention?

Artenas: First, I would like to thank for giving me the opportunity to talk to everyone. Rich and Barry thank you so much. I want to thank Sam, Erica, all the people who stay close to me, my entire team here at Hoger MMA, and my teammates at Jackson’s. You guys have all brought me from the bottom up and taught me to be a fighter.  I love you all.