Rod building for Hong Kong
AUCKLAND builder Rod "Hot Rod" MacSwain is out to construct a career as a full time fighter in mixed martial arts.
The UFC is the ultimate goal and the foundations are being laid in a blossoming career in New Zealand, Australia and now Asia where he is the Legend FC welterweight champion.
The 24-year-old is working towards defending that title in July when he fights South Korea's Bae Myung Ho, alias "The Wolverine", in Hong Kong.
With the sport taking in the most deadly aspects of boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, MacSwain believes versatility will ultimately be his greatest asset.
He has a wrestling background from his school days at Rosehill College in Papakura where he was also a useful rugby flanker.
"I don't want to fight one way or the other. I want to be flexible otherwise people work you out as a ground fighter or a stand-up fighter. My record is pretty even in terms of winning by knockouts and submissions," he says of his fighting CV that features 12 wins, a loss and a draw.
With the sport in its infancy in New Zealand, MacSwain says he's often asked if the fights are actually real or are they staged like some of the big wrestling shows.
"I think it's as real as it gets," he stresses of this potent mix of disciplines.
"You put them all together and it's the sport of fighting ... it's the ultimate one-on-one combat and a test where men are made. Men like competition and I think this is competition at its finest."
Hot Rod sees a huge future for the sport here and he wants to be at the vanguard of it. As well as fighting, he trains MMA at the Strike Force gym in west Auckland.
He is also out to build a New Zealand national side of fighters and is seeking corporate sponsorship.
"I've decided I want to go full time," he said. "I have invested a lot of time and a bit of money ... I want to take this as far as I can. I don't want to look back in 10 years and say `what if'.
"It's a baby sport here. I only trained for two years and I made it to the top so that shows the level of competition. But it is really booming in New Zealand and it's very exciting to be part of this.
"I know that if it doesn't work out then I can always fall back on my building career. But right now this is everything."
MacSwain is proud of his never-say-die attitude. Tactically clever, he has an ability to get out of tight situations by exposing his opponents weaknesses as much as using his own strengths.
He has no doubt he will have to go where he's never been in terms of performance and endurance to defend his title against Ho.
He will continue to work with former world champion kick boxer Aaron Boyes in their gym in New Lynn, Auckland.
"I really want to take my kick-boxing and boxing up a level," he said. "In New Zealand we are renowned for our striking, so I want to do as much as I can here."
Then MacSwain will cross the Tasman to round out his fight plan with Australian MMA guru Dan Higgins in Brisbane for a month before heading to Asia.
"Dan knows how to put it all together ... he's a specialist in doing that," he said. "It worked for my last fight and I'm going to do something similar this time."
HOT ROD AT A GLANCE:
Name: Rod MacSwain
Date of birth: October 27, 1986
Record: 12 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw – 6 via KO/TKO, 5 via submission, 1 decision
Titles: Legends FC Welterweight Champion, Supremacy MMA Welterweight Champion, Rize Australasian Welterweight Champion, undefeated in Australian Cage Fighting Championship
Sponsors: Demon Energy, NZ Boxer, MMA Gear, Supplements.co.nz