“After watching the video, I wanted to throw my laptop across the room because I knew I was better than that.”
John “The Maniac” Malbrough
Interview and Photos by: Barry Laminack
John Malbrough fixes things. He’s a mechanic by trade, so it comes natural to him. He’s also a 1-1 amateur fighter coming off a loss in which he described his performance as “not good”. He has watched the tapes of that fight against Pat Biershwale over and over again, and he says that he has fixed the holes in his game that he saw.
But John isn’t just about fixing his own fighting techniques, and that’s what makes him such a great guy. During a sparring session with a much younger fighter, I watched as he spent half the time talking to the kid, coaching him, correcting him, and fixing his mistakes. Like any good mechanic, John found the problem, made some adjustments, and now the kid is on the road to becoming a better fighter. I guess it comes natural to a guy who is used to getting things corrected and working again.
He greeted me with a smile and a handshake that reminded me of a country farm boy; it was firm, yet polite and sincere. I didn’t have to spend much time talking to John to get the sense that he likes what he does and where he’s at in life. He’s a laid back guy and easy to talk too, and when you discuss fighting with him, his eyes light up as he talks about the one thing in life he’s most passionate about (besides his friends and family).
I made the trip out to Kingwood MMA and spent some time with John and his coach, Tom McCusker. We talked about friend, fighting and the future.
TCD.net: You train at both UH MMA and Kingwood MMA. How much time do you spend between each?
John: I’m here at Kingwood as much as I am at UH training. I’ve spent about the same amount of time at both getting ready for this fight.
TCD.net: How often do you go out and train with Team Tooke?
John: As often as I can. Andrew [Craig] and I like to get together and bang and work hard to try and improve our skills.
TCD.net: How long have you been training?
John: I’ve been training off and on for a good 5 years, working on different aspects here and there.
TCD.net: You’ve had two fights and you’re 1 and 1. What did you learn from your decision loss against Pat Biershwale?
John: I was disappointed in myself because I know I’m a much better fighter than what I showed. What I learned from fight was that I have to keep my head in the fight and not the surroundings outside the cage. The hype behind it all was overwhelming, and I wasn’t totally 100% into the fight. Instead of concentrating on Pat, I was worried about what was going on outside. Honestly, I think I should have won that fight, if I would have been there in my mind, I definitely would have won, but hats off to him, there is not much I can say about it. He beat me.
TCD.net: During that fight against Pat, you looked really comfortable on your feet. Do you have a preference between standing and the ground?
John: Honestly, I’d rather be standing up, because I’m super fast with my hands and my legs are coming together, but don’t get it twisted at all, I’m definitely good on the ground. It’s like I said, my head wasn’t in that fight that night. There were a lot of times during that fight that I was getting kicked, but I wasn’t checking them like I’m supposed too. After watching the video, I wanted to throw my laptop across the room because I knew I was better than that. I learned a lot from that fight. I’ve gone over it and over it in my head.
TCD.net: When you look back, was there any single moment where you think you lost the fight.
John: Yeah, I figured I lost the fight when he kept shooting in on me, and I wasn’t sprawling out like I’m supposed too. Instead I was just walking straight into his shots. There are a couple times during that fight when I two-pieced him, and he was out of it, but I didn’t attack or I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been.
TCD.net: Before we talk about your opponent Andrew Craig as fighters, talk a little bit about your relationship as friends and training partners.
John: I’ve known Andrew for about six or seventh months now. I met him through Tom [McCusker]. They trained together at Team Tooke. They had a cage over there, and we just started banging. After that first time we sparred, we decided, man, we need to work together and help each other improve.
After this fight, we will be training together again. No hard feelings no matter who wins. It’s going to come down to who is on top of their game and playing their chess pieces right. We’re both well rounded and match up well.
TCD.net: Is it hard to fight a friend? Can you turn that off?
John: Yeah. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to turn that machine on inside me, and I think it’s the same way for him. We are both in this for the same reason, to become somebody in this sport.
TCD.net: Have you two talked recently?
John: Yeah, we saw each other at the Legacy fights. We said hello, but we left it short. It was kind of weird to be honest with you, but we know we’re fixing to start banging it out, balls to the wall hands down just going at it.
TCD.net: I know you took this fight on short notice. When did you find out about the fight?
John: I actually found out before [Andrew] did. I was originally supposed to be fighting Taylor Camacho. It was going to be his first fight and his first loss [laughs]. Mick called me up and said Andrew’s opponent was backing out and that they where impressed with my last couple of fights and felt I was ready for a title fight.
I called Andrew and asked him what he thought about it because I wanted to talk to him before I gave them my answer. He said yes, let’s get it done and see who comes out the better man.
TCD.net: What is your predication for the fight?
John: My prediction is I’m going to win.
TCD.net: Do you have plans of going pro?
John: Yes, I definitely have plans of going pro. If I win this title, I want to defend it a couple of time to expand my horizons more, but yes, I will go pro.
TCD.net: Do you have a time table?
John: Win or lose, probably after my next couple of fights I’ll switch and go pro.
TCD.net: Are you going to fight at the same weight when you go pro at the same weight?
John: I’ll probably drop down to 170. I’m real comfortable, but I drop weight so easy. I can drop 10 lbs in a day, and I can be fine the next. It will also just depend on how I feel.
TCD.net: Anyone you’d like to thank?
John: I’d like to thank A Auto works. They have been behind me 100%. I work there, and my cousin Joseph owns it. He’s a big MMA fan and sponsors the local shows. He helps me out a lot and gives me a lot of opportunities to make myself better. He has given me a chance to do my passion in life.
I’d also like to thank Tom McCusker for working with me every day.
I’d like to thank Todd from UH. He’s really sharpened me up on my Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.
A BIG BIG thanks to my boy, Gerardo Abadie. That’s the man right there. He’s the reason why my hands are where they are at. He’s been working with me from day one. That’s who I want to dedicate this fight to. Every time I train with this guy he makes me better and pushes me that much more.
I want to thank my wife and my little girl who are both number one to me. They let me come out here and train and dedicate myself to MMA.
I also want to thank Andrew for being a good team mate to me and pushing me to my limits. Good luck to him. I just hope we put on a good show for the fans.
You can read more about John’s opponent, Andrew Craig, here.