Mark O. Madsen had to endure a lot to finally get return at UFC Vegas 34.
Following a broken jaw suffered in his last fight as well as the devastating news that his wife had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling had the odds against him going into Saturday night. Still, Madsen hung tough with Clay Guida round after round and ultimately gutted out a hard fought split decision to remain undefeated in his professional fighting career.
The scorecards read 30-27, 29-28 and 28-28 with Madsen moving to 11-0 with the win.
“That was for my wife,” Madsen said afterwards. “I’m so proud that I could bring home a victory. This is my biggest comeback of my athletic career. I’m so proud, I’m so happy. He has my utmost respect. He’s a legend in here. It’s an honor to share the cage with him.”
With a massive experience advantage, Guida was quick to establish his striking as he was sticking punches in Madsen’s face in rapid-fire fashion in the opening exchanges. In return, the former Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling was happy to close the distance and work from the clinch while muscling Guida up against the cage and throwing a barrage of knees to the body.
While Madsen is best known for his grappling he seemed more than comfortable throwing punches from the outside and then launching those same knees to the body whenever Guida got too close.
Making the necessary adjustments between rounds, Guida started to really focus on his sporadic movement, which flustered Madsen as he was desperately trying to get inside again. Guida was throwing fast combinations and many of his punches were slipping through Madsen’s defense and stinging the Dane on the chin.
Guida wasn’t doing a ton of damage but he was still throwing with a lot of volume and also attacking Madsen’s lead leg with a barrage of kicks. Madsen wasn’t backing down, however, and his forward movement combined with a stiff jab that was popping Guida in the mush throughout the final frame might have made the difference on the scorecards.
A razor-close decision win is still a win and Madsen was happy to celebrate the victory before then turning his attention to another high-level grappler in the lightweight division.
“There’s a guy out there saying he’s the best wrestler in this division,” Madsen said. “Gregor Gillespie, I’m coming for you.”