You’d be hard pressed to find another fighter in the featherweight division that has had as much success, yet largely flown under the radar, as “Lightning” Nick Macias.  The Colorado-based fighter has worked his way through the ranks and will take on UFC and WEC veteran Tyler “Thunder” Toner in the main event of Ring of Fire 42: “Who’s Next?”

Macias will enter the cage on Saturday, Dec. 17, sporting a professional record of 5-1, including four straight wins.  In his last two bouts, the rising 145-pound fighter has dispatched of previously undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Josh Ford and two-time state wrestling champ Angelo Duarte.  A win over Toner is likely to earn Macias the attention of bigger promotions.

“I think it’s safe to assume that a win will do good things for my career,” stated Macias.  “Having trained with guys in the UFC and Bellator, I absolutely believe I can hang with fighters at that level.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Macias’ fight game is the continual improvement and evolution of his skill set.  In earlier bouts, Macias largely relied on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling, but with the help of his coach Marc Montoya and the team at Factory X Muay Thai, his striking game has become a staple of his arsenal.

Nick Macias battles Josh Ford (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

“I started to focus on striking after realizing how much fun it is to hit someone else in the head,” joked Macias.  “Now I get billed as the striker any time I fight a wrestler or jiu-jitsu guy.”

The progression that Macias has displayed is in large part due to his dedication to the gym.  While the featherweight would prefer to fight more frequently, the additional time between fights has only served to further his development as a fighter.

“I feel like I live at the gym (sometimes),” said Macias.  “In truth though, the gaps between fights has allowed me to progress and thus present something my opponent hasn’t seen on YouTube.”

Elaborating on his growth as a fighter, Macias detailed his last few bouts, “When I fought Duarte (a wrestler), my whole camp was based on striking and takedown defense.  I thought I showcased both in that fight even though I ended up winning by submission.  Against Ford, it was all about takedown defense, striking and not playing the BJJ game.”

“All in all, the biggest evolutionary leap has just been sticking to the game plan and being able to control the fight, no matter where it goes.”

With success comes sacrifice, as Macias can attribute.  Like many up-and-coming fighters, Macias still works a day job to make ends meet.  However, unlike some, his head isn’t clouded with illusions of grandeur.

“I’m 90 percent sure that I’ll still have bills after fighting,” declared the featherweight.  “Without another career, you’re left to join the masses opening up gyms on every corner or making peanuts instructing somewhere.”

Macias celebrates victory (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

So, what does Macias think is the most difficult part of the fight game?

“The time constraints,” Macias revealed.  “Want to grab a beer after work?  ‘No.’  Catch a movie tonight?  ‘Nope.’  A romantic dinner for two?  ‘I couldn’t eat anything anyway.’  But, apparently there’s something about the sport that makes it all worth it (laughing).”

The reward for Macias’ hard work and commitment will come in a victory over the hard-nosed striker Toner.  And although the UFC vet is favored, Macias wouldn’t have it any other way.

“At this point, I want tough fights and only tough guys,” proclaimed the 29-year-old.  “I like to be challenged.  I see no reason to battle guys that would be an ‘easy’ fight.  There’s no room for growth and honestly, I’m not even sure if I could push myself hard enough to get in shape.”

Another motivating factor for Macias is the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, which showcased the featherweight division.  Macias wants to make sure that those that didn’t earn a contract with the UFC take notice.

“All of those guys gained a lot of publicity from the show and now they are in need of opponents for big fights across the country,” Macias explained.  “That’s where I enter the picture.  I want to fight (each of) them in their hometown so I can be both the underdog and the villain.”

Although he’ll be fighting in front of a hometown crowd against Toner, Macias’ cheering section is likely to be outnumbered by the Grudge Training Center faction in attendance.  The fight represents a perfect scenario for Macias to fill his desired role.

“I am going to win this fight by any means necessary,” a confident Macias quipped.  “I am mentally and physically prepared for an all-out-war.  I expect Toner to try and keep it standing because that’s where he’s most comfortable.  On Saturday, we’ll find out who’s more comfortable.”

Nick would like to thank everyone in his life, especially his friends and family for their unwavering support.  Also his coach, Marc Montoya, his training partners at Factory X Muay Thai, the strength and conditioning team at Crossfit Littleton, Rich at 5280 fitness, the Barron/Brown faction at Performance MMA and Performance Labs, Fresh Fit Meals, Tri-Coasta, Howard Combat Kimonos, VIP Energy Drink, Indelible Ink Tattoo, and all the “smacks” at his 9-5. You can follow Nick on twitter at @nikkomacias.

Top Photo: Nick Macias (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

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