On the surface, a fighter’s professional debut couldn’t get much better than a fight that ends in a submission victory in less than one minute. Sometimes you have to dig deeper than the surface to find out the entire story.

In his pro debut, Danny Mainus submitted Kyle Carver with a rear-naked choke in 46 seconds. That fight came at Shark Fights 19 in September 2011. Mainus didn’t step in the cage again until March 2013.

“I didn’t let a lot of people know, but in my pro debut I tore about everything possible in my right knee,” Mainus revealed to The MMA Corner.

Mainus (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Mainus (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

The bantamweight fighter had reconstructive surgery and started the long road back to recovery. That severe of an injury would be a huge setback on the career of any athlete, let alone one making his first outing as a professional.

“As soon as it happened, I thought life was over,” Mainus explained. “I was on a seven-fight [amateur] win streak, just rolling through guys. Then my knee exploded.”

Mainus had a long and grueling road to recovery. He can sympathize with other athletes, like NBA star and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.

“I was cleared after nine months, but there was no way in hell I could fight. It was an emotional roller coaster,” Mainus said. “One day, I was up shadow boxing and feeling positive, and the next I’d be laying on the couch wondering if I’d ever fight again.”

Mainus has fought again. In fact, he has added three fights to his record since returning from the injury. Unfortunately, two of those contests ended in losses. His comeback fight took place at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 7 in March 2013. He fought Zac Chavez, and Chavez emerged with a split decision win. In June, it was Cameron Thurgood. Mainus put Thurgood away via TKO in the third round. Then, in November, it was back to the RFA cage for RFA 11, where Mainus lost to Scott Ingram, again via a split verdict on the judges’ scorecards.

“Even in my fight with Chavez, I was a little uneasy,” stated Mainus, acknowledging that he may have returned to action too soon.

Mainus thinks his two split decision losses could have gone either way, but he has been working on what he believes was his Achilles’ heel in those fights.

“To be honest, I got tired in both of those fights,” Mainus admitted. “I’ve been focusing on staying calm and getting my cardio cleared up so I can stay explosive throughout the whole fight.”

Mainus wants to show that his work has paid off when he faces Isaac Colon at the Fight to Win event in Colorado on Friday. It is going to be a treat for Mainus to be fighting close to his new adopted home. He trains at the Grudge Training Center with Trevor Wittman in Denver. Mainus is a native of the Midwest, but he considers the move to Colorado to train at Grudge to be a decision that has had a huge positive effect on his fighting career.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better family and fight team,” he said. He also believes that you can’t discount the effect that fighting for a team like that has on your exposure as a fighter.

“It makes you marketable,” Mainus explained. “Fight promoters want to have you on their card.”

A lot of truth comes in that statement. Just look at Mainus’ career. Two out of his four professional bouts have taken place under the RFA banner, including his return from injury. It is a huge deal to fight for the “unofficial” UFC feeder league so young in a fighter’s career.

Another thing that has greatly benefited in Mainus is the fact that his brother also practices mixed martial arts.

Mainus (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Mainus (top) (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

“It has been great to have a training partner like Derek my whole life,” Mainus said. “I’m constantly learning from him every day.”

Having a relative as one of your main training partners certainly can prove for some testy times in the gym. Fans have fantasized for years about what kind of fight we would see if the Diaz brothers ever stepped into the cage together. Mainus points out that the battles between him and Derek have become somewhat legendary in the gym.

“Whenever me and Derek are sparring in the cage together, pretty much everyone stops what they are doing and watches us,” he explained.

Mainus will look to take all of those training sessions with his brother, all of the frustration from his two losses, all of the hard times he went through coming back from a serious knee injury, and all of the steps he takes forward as a fighter every day at the Grudge Training Center and put it all together against Isaac Colon at Fight to Win: Animals. He knows that Colon is the type of guy who comes forward and pushes the pace from the beginning. He knows that this one should be exciting for the fans. But he is focused on what he has to do to walk away with the victory. That’s what really counts.

“I think I will overwhelm Isaac,” Mainus said. “I always dictate where the fight goes, so I’ll decide where I finish it.”

We will be right there along with Mainus on Friday to see if, when and where that finish does take place.

Danny would like to thank his family first and foremost. He would also like to thank his family of training partners and coaches at Grudge Training Center, all of his fans and supporters and his sponsor, Marvin Wilson Barrett Law Firm. Follow Mainus on Twitter: @DannyFrknMainus

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.