Joseph Henle may not share the same passion as a Canadian for cold beer, but he does share their thirst for MMA, therefore, he should expect a warm reception when he goes north of the boarder.
Henle (Twitter: @leonidas) recently signed with the Alberta-based Maximum Fighting Championship. The MFC is one of the world’s premier MMA organizations that continuously spawns combatants that go on to the UFC. MFC owner Mark Pavelich claims his promotion is the Harvard of MMA, meaning a combatant must graduate from the organization to make it to the biggest stage in the sport. Henle may be added to that list one day, but for now he is focused on latching an MFC belt around his waist.
Henle tasted the UFC when he competed on “The Ultimate Fighter 10,” but his opportunity to continue a career in the Octagon never materialized. He went back to the drawing board and fought in multiple organizations, all the while staying undefeated, until he got the chance to get back to one of the larger stages in the MMA world.
Some may think Henle is backtracking by building his career and climbing the ranks, while not holding out for a contract with an American-based promotion. However, Henle and Royal Sports Management’s Bryce Armendariz had their eye on the MFC for some time and, Canadian or not, “Leonidas” is thrilled to be a part of the organization.
“Even though, they are primarily Canadian, MFC is still a big organization,” Henle told MMADieHards.com. “They’ve always been on the radar as an organization that we would love to join. After my last victory we kind of wanted to take that next step. We talked to Mark (Pavelich) before and he said we need a couple more wins. Since then I rattled off two more victories so when I told him we wanted to take that next step he got in touch with Mark, and Mark was warm to the idea.”
Henle’s contract with the MFC is a four-fight deal and his immediate plan is to stay with the promotion. Combatants in the past have utilized the MFC as a means of catapulting themselves to a larger organization, but that is not what Henle believes is his best option.
The MFC allows their contracted fighters to compete outside of the organization, however, suffering a loss in a different promotion will not have a competitor welcomed back with open arms. Henle is aware of those consequences, even though they are irrelevant to his goals of making his name synonymous with the MFC middleweight division.
“I really want to (build my name in MFC),” Henle said about his new employer. “It seems a lot of guys use them as a stepping-stone and are quick to leave. I would really like to build a name in the promotion. I’d like to solidify that middleweight division for them and give them a face to build upon.
“I really like the way Mark (Pavelich) interacts with people. He seems like a legit dude and I’m excited to get in there and test the waters and show them what I can do.”
Getting along with your boss is always a positive thing, and that is something Henle has with Pavelich.
The Tricoasta sponsored fighter has competed in BAMMA, Tachi Palace Fights, California Fight Syndicate and various other promotions thus far in his career. He has been around the sport long enough and is friendly with many other professional mixed martial artists, so he hears and witnesses the horror stories that occur when dealing with a regional promotion. From what the MFC has shown Henle in such a short time, he is confident this is a wise career move.
“For me, I’m happy with the contract I got,” Henle said. “It’s funny because you hear different things about different promotions, but I’m happy. I really want to get out there and put on a good show for MFC, but everything I hear about them is positive. I never hear anything negative about the organization, as where guys I know have fought for Bellator are like, ‘They don’t fight you enough if you don’t make it in the tournament.’ I’ve also heard they screwed guys on their pay. I don’t know if that was the case, but it’s what I’ve heard.
“I’m happy with the MFC and I think I am in a good place. I want to keep the good things going.”
Henle also considers another advantage to fighting for MFC, as opposed to smaller promotions, is the fact that he won’t have to do as much of the foot work. Smaller organizations depend on the competitors to sell tickets, which in turn pays the fighter. Henle said he encourages up and coming mixed martial artists to take part in that method of filling seats, but having a 7-0-1 record and signing with a large promotion like MFC exempts him from those tasks.
His preparations for his upcoming bout, however, will not change.
Henle trains out of Reign MMA, a gym owned by UFC middleweight Mark Munoz. The expertise Henle is exposed to at the facility is second to none, but commuting to the gym is a mission within itself.
“I’m at Reign’s about three or four days a week,” Henle said. “It’s a two hour drive just to get there, so that’s four hours of driving for an hour and a half of training. If you have ever experienced California driving, driving through L.A., you know it’s not something you look forward to.”
Henle has built his career to the point that he is on the brink of blowing up. He worked hard to get where he is at, and though he enjoys his days off, they are not relaxed over a cold pint like many alpha males across the world.
“I don’t even drink, really,” Henle said. “I love the taste of cold beer, but it hurts me. I’ve become a big fan of non-alcoholic beer. How weird is that? It’s funny, because one time, after a friend’s fight we all went to T.G.I Friday’s and we were all eating. I had a fight coming up and everyone was drinking beer. I was like, ‘I love beer, I love the taste of it,’ so coach was like, ‘Have an O’Douls.’ I heard those taste terrible, but he was like, ‘You like the taste of cold beer, right?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Have one.’ It was good, it satisfied that craving, so now I stick to that.”