U.S. Navy SEAL Mitch Aguiar spoke with Bloody Elbow about joining the Naval Special Warfare teams, his 11-1 amateur record, and making his professional MMA debut at SFL 32 on January 27, 2018.
On January 27, 2018 U.S. Navy SEAL Mitch Aguiar will be making his professional MMA debut against Brandon Pennington, at Spartyka Fight League 32 in Norfolk, Virginia. The “Smashin Frog” has amassed an 11-1 amateur record, finishing 9 of his victims before the final bell, all while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
The U.S. Navy Sea, Air, and Land teams are a Special Naval Warfare division that notoriously recruits the crème de la crème to carry out some of the nation’s toughest tasks. To become a U.S. Navy SEAL, one must be in peak physical and mental condition, as candidates are subjected to one of the most rigorous screening processes known across all branches of the United States military.
After 10 years in the special forces, Aguiar is now stepping out of his U.S. Navy uniform and into an American Flag Sunga to pursue his passion for Mixed Martial Arts combat. Between a strong social media following and now being able to focus his energy full-time on fighting, Aguiar is expecting to reach his goal of competing in the UFC.
Before marching into battle at SFL 32 on the 27th, Aguiar sat down with Bloody Elbow’s Eddie Mercado to discuss how he became a U.S. Navy SEAL, his robust amateur record with Spartyka Fight League, and why now is the right time for him to make a run at a professional MMA career.
- What made you want to become a U.S. Navy SEAL?
“To be honest, I never had the intention of joining the military; I really didn’t even know what the Navy SEALs were. I had just graduated high school and kind of didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was living in Ohio at the time… A Navy recruiter happened to walk in and was like, ‘hey, you want to join the Navy?’
I was like ‘yeah, sure, why not?’
He was like, ‘well, you look like you’re in good shape; you want to be a SEAL?’
I was like, ‘I guess. I don’t know what they are or whatever.’
My mom was there and she was like, ‘yeah, they’re like the rockstars of the military, and you know, I can see you being a SEAL.’
I was like, ‘Okay, cool. Sign me up.’ I signed up and had no idea what I was getting into, but I made the choice, told people that I was going to do it, so.”
- Being a SEAL is legendary here in the United States. What made you decide to leave something so rare?
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment, and it’s held in a high regard and all that, but there’s more to life to me than being a Navy SEAL. That was just one chapter, and I’m ready for a new one. There’s guys that are still in and that’s their passion and they love what they do, and they want nothing else and they’re happy doing that. And that’s awesome you know. I think those guys are going to be those heroic legendary SEALs and be what you imagine a Navy SEAL in your head. I was a SEAL; I did my part. I was happy to do my part and contribute and I got to be around some amazing guys like you’re describing, that really do fit that criteria. It’s pretty humbling.”
- Realizing a true passion for the fist fight:
“For me, as I got a little older, I did a couple of deployments and everything and I got into martial arts. Fighting is really, fist fighting, is kind of like my passion. Martial Arts have become my passion and my priorities kind of shifted with that. I got to go out to Blackhouse MMA and got to train with some of the top level guys in the world, and when I did that, I realized that it wasn’t just like an unrealistic dream to fight in the UFC. It was something that, these are just normal guys, just like me, and they applied themselves, put in the work, and now they’re at the level they’re at. Just like I did to become a SEAL, just different focused energy.”
Check out this photo of Mitch Aguiar sharing wartime martial arts knowledge with the UFC’s former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis:
- Living without regret:
“At the time, I was at a point in my military career where I needed to kind of either stay in and ride it out and that’s what I was going to do, or get out and pursue the UFC. I’m 28 years old, so I think the UFC is a young man’s game. Father Time waits for no one, and I think I had to just make a decision to go one way or the other. I’m just not the type to, I don’t want to live with regret and wonder what if. Or like, ‘man, I could have fought in the UFC or I could have fought at that level.’ I just don’t want to live in that ‘would of should of could of.’ I’ve been a SEAL for 10 years. I lived that and experienced it. It was great and I was okay with walking away from it and starting a new chapter.”
- Mountain climbers don’t build houses at the top of Everest:
“It’s kind of like mountain climbers, you know. They climb up to the top of the mountain; they climb up to Everest or something like that; they don’t build a house up there. They take a look around. They enjoy it and take in the experience and learn from it and all that, and then they climb another mountain. So, I’m ready to climb another mountain.”
- Some fighters will only take 3 or 4 amateur bouts before turning pro, why take 12 ammy fights?
“I would have went pro a long time ago but my job wouldn’t let me. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal because in Virginia, as you know, the rule set is the exact same as the pros. There’s day before weigh-ins, elbows, kicks is legal. There’s no difference other than you getting a paycheck, and I was getting a paycheck in the military. Like I said, I just wanted to fight for fun. So, whether it was an amateur or a pro fight, it didn’t matter to me. A punch in the face from me, whether you call me an amateur or a pro, is going to feel the same.”
- Why have just about all of your fights taken place with Spartyka Fight League?
“Jimi’s venue, the Spartyka Fight League, that’s the main venue I’ve done all my fights from. I’ve been all around the world and country and seen all these fight promotions, and in my opinion, the only 2 shows that have outdone Spartyka Fight League is Bellator and the UFC. And that says something.”
- SFL founder Jimi Partyka is active duty military; is that how you guys linked up?
“No, somebody had just told me, ‘there’s a fight league, you should sign up for it.’ I can’t remember who. I remember being at a bar and I think I just gotten into a fight. I like beat up somebody that was just being an asshole, and they were like, ‘man, you should fight in that fight league.’ I was like, ‘what fight league?’ They were like, ‘oh, Spartyka Fight League.’ So, I looked it up and was like, ‘yeah, I’m down.’”
- You seem to put on a show for your fight intros, such as dancing around in your American Flag Speedo. Will we see the same for your professional career?
“Definitely haha. The story behind that, it’s actually called a Sunga. It’s a Brazilian swimwear cut. It’s sort of like a speedo/shorts mix. My friend Jeff Gum and Kyle Maynard they own a company called Loudmouth Patriot and that’s their article of clothing. I just wanted to support them. They wear a lot of my gear; I own MASF Apparel. Check them out masfapparel.com. We just help promote each other, and that was one way I thought would be pretty funny and good exposure for their brand.”
— Spartyka Nation (@SpartykaNation) October 15, 2017
- On January 27th you make your pro debut at SFL 32 against Brandon Pennington. Are you happy with your debut matchup?
“I am, I am happy with it. At first, I was kind of confused and surprised that Brandon was calling me out, but before I even left the venue I had heard a bunch of people in my ear, ‘so and so calling you out, so and so calling you out, so and so calling you out.’ I was like man, I feel like the [Conor] McGregor of Spartyka Fight League. Essentially, the reason why is because I have a larger following on social media than most of the guys, I’d say, and I feel like they think that they’re going to get a lot of exposure from fighting me. So, it’s almost like I’m the money fight even though we aren’t making UFC money.”
SFL 32 headliner- Mitch Aguiar vs. Brandon Pennington: Welterweight
- You are officially out of the military and have your 1st pro fight booked. Will your training regiment change any now that you’re going pro?
“Well, I haven’t really been training, so hopefully it will change. I just had so much going on, and I’m a firm believer that fighting is 90% mental and the other 10 percent is in your head. When it comes to a mindset, a warrior mindset, mine is rock solid. I stay in shape, I do what I can, but I do a lot of things to make sure my mind is strong, my mind is ready. I feel like if you’re clouded and your mind is just not in the right space, or not in the right place, or you’re not wanting to be there or something like that, I feel like you can loses a fight before you ever step into the cage.”
- Do you have a prediction for SFL 32?
“I think that he is going to want to stand and exchange with me because he has a pro boxing background. Obviously if you watch my any of my fights, everyone always says, ‘oh you’re sloppy. You’re sloppy this and that,’ but if you talk to anyone that’s been hit by my punch, they’ll tell you that is not a punch you want to get hit by. So, I think he’s going to want to exchange with me until he feels that power, and then maybe he’ll want to kind of escape by going to the ground, and I think I’m going to choke him out.”
- Is making it to the UFC your goal or do you have championship aspirations? Exactly how far are you looking to go in your professional MMA career?
“I’m definitely willing to go all the way. If being a UFC champion is in the cards, then right on, cool. I’m not going to be like heartbroken if I never become the UFC champion of the world. I’m okay with not reaching that. My goal, honestly, is to fight in the UFC. That’s what I set out to do. That’s what I want to do. If I fight a couple of times in the UFC, like I’m cool with that and I’m ready to climb a new mountain.”
You can watch SFL 32 on FITE.TV by clicking HERE.