Mark MacQueen – The Strongest man at ADCC – submission fighting

Sevan Matossian (00:00):

I use this word to describe another human being, but I’ve heard other people use the word, I think it’s a European phrase. You are an absolute unit. Holy cow. Dude, I’ve been, last night I spent an hour on your Instagram. I am an instant fan. What a freak you are.

Mark MacQueen (00:22):

Well, thank you very much. Thank you. You’re

Sevan Matossian (00:24):

Absolutely welcome. How you are pushing yourself is just absolutely incredible, dude.

Mark MacQueen (00:35):

No, thank you. I’m working as hard as I can. I’ll say that

Sevan Matossian (00:41):

With a great attitude too, right?

Mark MacQueen (00:44):

Yeah, you’ve got to. I think the thing is that the only thing we truly can actually control is our attitude. So I think it’s, that is the prerequisite to achieving what you want to achieve.

Sevan Matossian (00:58):

Achieve. There’s a lot I want to get out of you today. The language barrier is going to be tremendous to overcome,

Mark MacQueen (01:05):

But I’ll try my best to speak English,

Sevan Matossian (01:08):

But I think we can bridge the gap. There are some important commonalities. Mark McQueen is, I dunno what you call ’em, strongman. Powerlifter and a martial artist. He just qualified for A DCC. That’s the Abu Dhabi Combat Club. And for those of you who don’t know, I think most of you guys do know, but for those of you who don’t know, there’s this thing called the UFC Ultimate Fighting Championships. And many years ago, it became evident to all the people who want to be the best fighters in the world, that they have to have a pretty damn solid foundation in jiujitsu and grappling. And so it’s sort of become the cornerstone for lack of a, I don’t want to start an argument, but it’s the most important martial art and the best martial arts to learn. And Mark has accomplishing that at the highest level now and also is one of the strongest people. Will you be the strongest guy at A DCC ever?

Mark MacQueen (02:14):

I think so. I might not feel the strongest on the mat, but I think if we were to go into the gym, yeah, I think so.

Sevan Matossian (02:24):

So if we were to do a bench press, your total, your bench press, your deadlift, your overhead press, we would be hard pressed to find someone stronger than you.

Mark MacQueen (02:35):

I’d be confident seeing that. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (02:38):

Are you the most, I’m sure there’s other power lifters who do jiujitsu, tons of ’em, other strong men who’ve pivoted to the martial arts and jiujitsu. But do you think you took, was it strongman you were doing, would you say it was strongman you were doing

Mark MacQueen (02:54):

No, it was powerlifting.

Sevan Matossian (02:56):


Mark MacQueen (02:56):

Yeah. It was purely powerlifting I was doing

Sevan Matossian (03:00):

And power lifting’s, deadlift, bench press and squat.

Mark MacQueen (03:03):

Yes, that’s correct.

Sevan Matossian (03:06):

So if we were to do those three, if we were to do a total, you can’t think of anyone off the top of your head who you’re like, yep, I ran into that guy in powerlifting and now he’s in Jiujitsu.

Mark MacQueen (03:15):

No, I mean, I totaled, my best total in competition was 920 kilos, which is like 2,130 pounds, maybe 2,100 pounds. And that was done in the IPF as well. So if you don’t know the IPF as IPF, maybe not anymore, but at the time, added that in 2018, at the time, that was drug free. I was drug tested. And also it was the strictest, the strictest rule set, the strictest judging. You had to walk out your squats. It was completely raw. You had a non-specialty bar, so you had to use a power bar for squat, bench and deadlift. So yeah, I would say I think you’d be hard pushed to fight. I don’t even think you’d be hard pushed. There’s nobody, I think would come in with a few hundred kilos of that that’ve competed at a DCC

Sevan Matossian (04:19):

Guys. If you go to his Instagram account, it’s at mark, just like it sounds. And it’s McQueen, MAC queen two, you’ll become an instant fan. This is Mark. Kind of reminds me of the guy we have on Jack Magdalena. Do you know who that is? The kid from Australia fighting in the UFC?

Mark MacQueen (04:40):


Sevan Matossian (04:41):

Okay. Do you follow the UFC mark?

Mark MacQueen (04:45):

Not too closely, but I do follow it. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (04:48):

Okay. He basically lost his first two UFC fights or his first two MMA fights. Then he went on to win. Now he’s won 12 straight and he just beat Gilbert Burns. That’s amazing. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. He’s just a kid out of Australia. He’s a standup guy. He’s not a ground guy, which is crazy that he beat Gilbert because Gilbert’s a ground guy and he lit Gilbert up, and I would put you in the same camp. Anyone who wants to, we’re late to the bandwagon, but we’re still early because there is kind of no limit. You’re looking at a guy that I think is going to, has no limit. Totally off subject here. Do you have an agent?

Mark MacQueen (05:28):


Sevan Matossian (05:29):

No. I mean, look how you look here. As we know, Connor Gregor is slow as his start. Look at this. Did you steal this suit from Connor? I mean, you are ready to be in some Russian mobster film. Look at you.

Mark MacQueen (05:54):

Yeah. Yeah. I’d say I’d, I’d scrubbed up. Okay. Yeah. Not a bad photo of me and my girlfriend.

Sevan Matossian (06:02):

My God. How tall are you?

Mark MacQueen (06:05):

Six three.

Sevan Matossian (06:06):

Oh my goodness. I appreciate the conversions For those of us still living under the King’s, King’s law. I appreciate you doing that in feet and inches. And how much do you weigh?

Mark MacQueen (06:17):

So at A-D-C-C-I weighed 126 kilos, which is about 280 pounds. Just under maybe

Sevan Matossian (06:30):

Wild. I mean, you’re made for a movie. If I’m living in Europe and I’m making a student film, I get this guy in my movie because the chance, I mean, there’s no limit for you. I want to show this before we get into the, let me see if I can find it here easily before we get into the meat and potatoes. Here you are staying on the podium. And this was in February?

Mark MacQueen (07:00):

Yes, February the 17th.

Sevan Matossian (07:03):

Yeah. Congratulations, man. Incredible. Thank you. Had you gone against either of these guys before?

Mark MacQueen (07:09):

Yeah, so the guy that was in third place is a guy called Jean Luca. He is fraught, I think he’s from Ireland. He has an Irish accent, but I think he might have been born somewhere else, but I think he’s been brought up in Ireland. He’s a lovely guy. I’ve had one match with him before. Me and him had a match. It was actually a title match, a 10 minutes up only about one year before this. And the guy that was in second place, Freddy, I’d never had a match from before. And actually, Freddy, he’s actually pretty famous in Europe, maybe the world, but definitely in Europe and especially the UK for Jiujitsu. He’s a really big name. I remember when I first started Jiujitsu, I had only been training for a few months, and I remember hearing about him and just hearing pretty big deal. And then just knowing about ’em. And then fast forward less than five years, and I’m literally going up against him in the finals to go to the Olympics of Gron. So yeah, it’s funny how things like that work.

Sevan Matossian (08:25):

He looks like a full size man version of Patti Pint. You know who that is?

Mark MacQueen (08:29):

Yeah. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (08:31):

He looks like Patty. If he reached full size and this other guy next to you, the guy who looks like a Mexican from Ireland, if you’re six three, he must be, what is he? Six? Six?

Mark MacQueen (08:44):

I think he’s taller. Yeah, I think he’s taller. He’s very good. He’s very, very good at jujitsu. Both of them are, but I would say he’s maybe an inch or two than me. Yeah,

Sevan Matossian (08:56):

God absolutely wild. And then I think, right, is this the final match at, where’s this at? Yeah.

Mark MacQueen (09:05):

No, that was at Grapple Fest. So that was almost one year ago. That was at Grapple Fest. And that was against a guy called James Thompson. So if you’re not aware who James Thompson is. James Thompson is actually a bit of a legend in MMA, especially UK MMA. He fought in Pride, so he fought Fedor, Amelia KO’s brother, Alexander Emelia Enco. So if you watch, you will have seen it. You type in James Thompson versus Alexander. It’s called the most intense or the scar, the scariest face off ever. He’s a really scary dude. Really scary dude. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (09:52):

Is that the first time you phased him?

Mark MacQueen (09:54):

Yeah, that’s the first

Sevan Matossian (09:55):

Time. And Mark, were you scared?

Mark MacQueen (09:59):

Yeah. Yeah, definitely not of him. I’m not scared of him. I’m scared. I’m scared of not achieving what I want to achieve and feeling like he could prevent that, if that makes sense. So I have my goals and I have what I want to achieve, and then if I have a match with somebody, I feel scared that they’re going to get in the way of that and prevent that. But I wasn’t scared.

Sevan Matossian (10:31):

You’re not scared he is going to hurt you?

Mark MacQueen (10:34):


Sevan Matossian (10:35):

No. Like you did to him.

Mark MacQueen (10:37):

No, I’m scared, but it’s more of my own expectations. He’s

Sevan Matossian (10:48):

Going to stop you from your goals. You have goals.

Mark MacQueen (10:50):

Yes. And it’s more my expectations of myself and what I want to do. And what I’m scared of is that I feel like he could get in the way and he could stop that, but I’m not scared of getting hurt. No.

Sevan Matossian (11:08):

Is this guy James, was he the biggest perceived obstacle that you had up until that point?

Mark MacQueen (11:19):

I wouldn’t say so. No. I’d say up until that point there, my biggest obstacle was against a guy from, well, he’s actually from Romania originally, but he lives in America called Daniel Maui. You known in Jujitsu’s, big Dan from New Wave. I had a match with him three months before that. So people that aren’t aware of Big Dan trains at New Wave, he trains with Fleet Gordon Ryan and under John Danaher. And he’s won trials a couple of times already. He’s already competed at A DCC. He’s probably top five in the world at heavyweights. So I had a match him at Grapple Fest. Unfortunately, that was three months before that, unfortunately lost that match. But I’d say he was the biggest obstacle. But also I feel like going into that as well, I also didn’t really have anything to lose because he was already top five in the world.


And when I’d faced him, I’d only been training for, I’ve not even been training for four years yet. I think I’d been training for about three years and eight months. So didn’t really have anything to lose because if I went out and made a good account of myself and still lost, it doesn’t derail anything. And then obviously if I won, that would’ve been great. But that match was James Thompson. I think there was more pressure from my side in terms of I can’t afford to be losing to this guy because if I lose to this guy, there’s no way. I’m not where I feel I need to be at this stage, if that makes sense.

Sevan Matossian (12:58):

Yeah, absolutely. I totally hear you. If you lost to that guy, it’s like, okay, I’m still on schedule. I can still get to where I want to go. If you lose to this guy, you’re not really supposed to lose to this guy to stay on your schedule. But he’s good. Mark, what happens here, what I see is he taps and you’re looking around for the referee to stop the match, but since you don’t see him, you don’t stop.

Mark MacQueen (13:20):

Yeah. So basically I do loosen up, but basically in Jiujitsu there’s a thing called a Brazilian tap for people that aren’t aware. And basically people in competition have been in submission and done like a tap, but it’s maybe subtle or whatever, and then you let go, and then the ref doesn’t see it, and then they claim they’ve not tapped, and then you have to reset. So a general rule that we go by or my coach tells us to go by, not every comp, but in a comp like this, we’re both professional athletes. We’re both getting paid to be there is you don’t stop to, the referee stops it, so they tap and the referee hasn’t stopped it. You have to keep going.

Sevan Matossian (14:06):

Where is he? Why does it take him? So I mean, would you say I feel like he’s a little slow. Would you say he’s a little slow?

Mark MacQueen (14:12):

Yeah, I’d say he was a little slow. So basically when he tapped, he tapped right as he went unconscious. So then when I’m looking around, I’m not actually squeezing anymore. I’m holding it, but I’m not actually squeezing. So it does look worse than it actually is. So as you can see, so that’s obviously a hundred percent effort. And then as I readjust there, he then taps and then he pretty much goes unconscious there. As I’m looking around, Alec loosen up. So I’m not actually squeezing anymore. I’m just not letting go. So it’s not like I was still squeezing a hundred percent. I’d let go of the squeeze and just holding position, but I would say that the ref could have been a little bit quicker for sure.

Sevan Matossian (14:57):

Is any part of you afraid to squeeze a man at a hundred percent?

Mark MacQueen (15:02):

No. Well,

Sevan Matossian (15:04):

You start squeezing. No. Part of you is like, Hey, you probably shouldn’t do this to another human.

Mark MacQueen (15:10):

Not in that context, no. If it was a local competition, so I’ve ended a local competition or a competition where you pay to enter and the people I’m against aren’t professional athletes and they have families and day jobs to go to the next day. I’m not going to do that. I’m just not. But in that context where we’re on one of the biggest shows in Europe, probably the biggest show in Europe, and we’re both getting paid to be there, I fully expect him to do the same thing to me.

Sevan Matossian (15:46):

My son was in a match recently, and the ref came over to see if the person was unconscious. And when he picked their arm up and let it down, my son thought that it was the referee stopping the match.

Mark MacQueen (15:59):


Sevan Matossian (15:59):

And the kid got out of the choke and my son ended up losing the match.

Mark MacQueen (16:04):

So see, that’s one of the things where I’ve had it happen to me. It was one of my first competitions ever when I was a white belt. I had a guy in a submission and he tapped and I let go, and the ref never saw it. And then he was like, no, I didn’t tap. Luckily I still won that match. But pretty much ever since then I was like, yeah, no, if that happens again, I’m going to wait until the ref stops it.

Sevan Matossian (16:27):

Yeah, you learned that lesson once and everyone else pays for it.

Mark MacQueen (16:31):


Sevan Matossian (16:34):

Mark, you’re born and raised in Scotland,

Mark MacQueen (16:37):

In Glasgow.

Sevan Matossian (16:38):

And what year were you born?

Mark MacQueen (16:40):


Sevan Matossian (16:41):

Wow. And mom and dad raised you to be an athlete or how does this happen as a young man? When do you know that you want to be a kid who plays sports in this physical?

Mark MacQueen (16:55):

Yeah, good question. So my mom and dad aren’t athletes. My dad really hasn’t really ever trained a day in his life, to be honest. The most hardworking man I’ve ever met. But that was with his job and business and stuff like that. And he was into sports, watching sports, but never really played them. But I grew up playing sports my whole life. So I grew up playing rugby until about the age of eight or nine and then stopped that and played football at the same time, and then gave up rugby for football, which

Sevan Matossian (17:33):

In football is what we call soccer.

Mark MacQueen (17:35):

Yes, okay. Which in hindsight was probably a stupid decision because I was really, really good at rugby and I wasn’t very good at football, but I wanted to play with my friends. And you’re so young at that age. And then I played football, and then when I was around 11 years old, I started doing boxing. So I do football and boxing, and I did boxing competitively. And I would say I was very good at boxing, but I would say that I let myself down was not, which is very different to now, but I wasn’t hardworking. I didn’t really give it very much effort at all. I would say I slacked off and yeah, I feel like I had a lot of, I could have been very good if I’d wanted to be, but I didn’t really want to be. And the results and the efforts showed that they continued to competitively box up until I was 16 and played football. And then when I was 16, I was playing football and I tore the ACL in my left knee, so I fully ruptured my ACL partially. Were you

Sevan Matossian (18:52):

Wearing cleats? Were you wearing cleats?

Mark MacQueen (18:54):

Studs? Yeah, studs, yeah. Okay. Yeah, basically I was running, no one was near me. I turned and the studs got caught in the ground and I turned my foot and fully ruptured ACL partially tore my PCL, tore my meniscus right down the middle and meshed my knee up. So I had to have a knee reconstruction. So in the process I was like, well, I can’t really do boxing anymore. I can’t do football, I’m going to start doing weights. And I’d always been obsessed with really strong men. Now I know that sounds a little bit dodgy, but had just always been so obsessed. And here’s a funny story. I was maybe 10 years old and my dad said I was walking down, we were on a family holiday and he was walking down the beach with me. And this man walked by and my dad said he was just huge, just muscles popping up everywhere. And basically just said, the way I stared at him, I just followed him for miles. And he said, I was actually a little bit worried about you. He was like the way you were looking at him, but I was just obsessed. So started lifting weights and really up until I started lifting weights, I’d never really been good at anything if I’m being honest. I was terrible in school and all of this is my fault, but it’s terrible. In school, I had really bad speech impediments growing up, couldn’t really speak. I had really bad delayed speech. As a child, I couldn’t speak for years after you were meant to really bad delayed speech. Then when I did speak,

Sevan Matossian (20:44):

Go ahead.

Mark MacQueen (20:45):

Then when I did learn to, I couldn’t even speak English. I basically just spoke.

Sevan Matossian (20:51):

You spoke in tongues?

Mark MacQueen (20:54):

Yeah. The only person who could understand me was my mum just spoke in gibberish. And then when I did learn to speak,

Sevan Matossian (21:01):

Why do you think that is? What caused the speech delay? What do you think caused that?

Mark MacQueen (21:06):

So they don’t know. So I had a lot of screenings. I had a lot of screenings for autism and lots of different screenings and stuff.

Sevan Matossian (21:16):

Does that just make it worse for you as a kid? You’re like, fuck you, I’m not trying. Then you start getting kind of pissed, like, okay, I’ll just accept being the dummy.

Mark MacQueen (21:23):

Yeah, exactly. So basically, and then when I did kind of learn to speak, I had a really bad speech impediment.

Sevan Matossian (21:31):

What did that look like? I don’t hear anything in your voice. Now. Sometimes people have speech impediments and then when they’re adults they sound like they’re deaf.

Mark MacQueen (21:38):


Sevan Matossian (21:39):

I don’t sense anything in you like that.

Mark MacQueen (21:41):

Yeah, I don’t really know. I’m really not sure. I just had a speech impediment and I had to go to speech therapy and stuff like that. And I think the saving grace was my parents. My mom and dad are phenomenal. I think without them or if I’d had different parents, I think I could have easily gone down a pretty different path. But

Sevan Matossian (22:06):

By that you mean crime and drugs.

Mark MacQueen (22:09):

And I was going down that way, to be honest, as a child, I was terrible. So badly behaved. My dad jokes about it now, but went to nursery and I got expelled from three nurseries, so that’s up age of four. And my dad said every day my mom would phone him, floods of tears. You’ll never guess what mark’s done now and then go to school, go to primary school, and was just terrible. Just on top of not being able to speak properly and having a speech impediment. I was so unintelligent, I was so stupid. I couldn’t do normal things. I couldn’t understand things. So an example of this, it’s like I’m eight years old and my dad’s like I couldn’t do basic arithmetic. And my dad’s at home with me and he’s placed out toys around the room and he’s like, so we’ve got two toys here and we’ve got two toys here. So we count them up, that’s 1, 2, 3, 4. He’s like, so then if we take two toys and two toys and we add them together, what does that make? And I’d be like, 37.


I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. But what I was really good at is I was really athletically gifted. Even by that point. Mom said that I was walking ridiculously young. I was running really young. I was really, really strong. I can remember when I was seven or eight years old, my big brother is just over two years than me. His friends would be around. And when you’re like eight years old compared to 10 years old, that’s quite a difference. I’d like arm wrestling them and just playing around with them. So I was very good there, but he did know what was wrong with me. And I think there wasn’t actually anything wrong with them. They just said, there’s not anything wrong. He’s just delayed. And I actually was just delayed. I’m not actually stupid or not action unintelligent, I can speak. It just took longer for me for whatever reason, I just couldn’t really do

Sevan Matossian (24:16):

It. Do you think all the speech therapy and all that attention you got for that was just a waste of time? You think they just rolled the dice and just let it go and it would’ve been fine?

Mark MacQueen (24:24):

Yeah, I

Sevan Matossian (24:25):

Think so. Fascinating. I bet you that’s the case in most cases too.

Mark MacQueen (24:28):

I think so. But what I think is so good is that maybe it was because I’m 29 right now, so this was 20 years ago, but I feel like maybe it was different parents of that’s happening now. I feel like I would’ve been labeled with all these labels like, oh, he’s got a DHD, he’s got this, he’s got this, he’s got this. And I feel like that can really define. But with me, they just left me as far as I can remember, just left me to it. But I was so stupid in school, couldn’t really understand it. And then I feel like as a result of that, I was just like, well, yeah, so I’m not going to try. And it’s like, then you start so you don’t try, you just deliberately misbehave. You act out, you’re terrible. So a lot of issues in premise show, but nothing too terrible, but nothing too bad or too dangerous, but just in a lot of fights, in trouble, a lot. Not particularly well behaved, nothing dreadful. Then go to secondary school.

Sevan Matossian (25:32):

Let me ask you this, mark, do you think that that’s two ways to look at? Do you think on one hand you did those things because you just had energy and it wasn’t being funneled anywhere. And they say the devil gives idle hands work, but also you could think the other psychological component was to overcompensate, right?

Mark MacQueen (25:51):

I think it was probably both of them being honest. I think I definitely was a very, very high activity kid. But I think as well, I do think as I’ve gotten older and thought about it, I do think that I was deliberately being a little asshole sometimes and acting out and then basically go to secondary school. So I’m not sure what the equivalent is in America or stuff like that, but secondary school for us is 13 years old to 17 years old.

Sevan Matossian (26:23):

I think junior high in high school. For us it’s like seventh grade to 12th grade.

Mark MacQueen (26:28):

So basically, but I was, because I’m born December, 1994, I’m young for my year, so I went to 10th school at 12 years old. But that’s

Sevan Matossian (26:38):

Even harder, which is something that’s really hard for kids being the youngest.

Mark MacQueen (26:43):

Yes, I was even younger. So then went to secondary school and that’s when things went pretty downhill with my behavior and stuff. Started hanging around with people that were, I’m not going to say were bad influences, because I was probably as bad an influence if not even worse to them. But I would say we were not doing very good things and was fighting and going out at weekends at 12 years old and drinking and just really stupid stuff. And no effort in school was terrible in school. And then what started to happen is the only thing I was ever really good at was I was pretty strong and athletic, but then everyone started to hit puberty and I didn’t. So then I became really small and I didn’t hit puberty honestly until I was 16 years old.

Sevan Matossian (27:37):

And you were already a year behind. So I started

Mark MacQueen (27:40):

From really small. So it got to the point I just wasn’t, I felt like I’m just like, I’m a complete failure. I’m not good in school. I’m so stupid. I’m terrible in school. I’m not good at any sports.

Sevan Matossian (27:55):

Were you talking good by 16? Did it just gradually you become a better talker or,

Mark MacQueen (28:00):

Yeah, so I would say around about primary. So I would’ve been maybe 10 years old is when I probably started to be able to speak, but that’s still very, very late. Maybe a little bit, maybe 10. Stroke 11. So I just started to feel like a failure, to be honest. That’s the truth. Just terrible in school. Not really good at any sports. I’m really small. My first ever boxing fight, I was 12 years old and I weighed in at 47 kilos, which is like a hundred pounds,

Sevan Matossian (28:42):

About a hundred pounds I think. Yeah.

Mark MacQueen (28:44):

Yeah. So tiny. And then wasn’t good with girls, never had a girlfriend or terrible with girls, just wasn’t really good at anything. And then get to 16 years old. And obviously that happens with my knee. And also what happened as well is that the people that I was hanging around with 12, 13, 14, 15, were also, none of us were good for each other. Not people that I really wanted to,

Sevan Matossian (29:11):

One guy steals one pack of cigarettes. You’re like, oh, I can do better than that. You steal a carton. Next guy’s like, Hey, I’ll rob the store

Mark MacQueen (29:18):


Sevan Matossian (29:19):

Of who can throw a ball the furthest it’s who can do the craziest shit?

Mark MacQueen (29:21):

Yeah, I had best friends. So we get to fourth year, and I’m about 15, I think 15 years old, and I’ll never forget this, I’m not going to say his name, but there was a teacher and he absolutely, in a way, he probably at that point, maybe this word’s far too strong, but kind of saved my life or put my life in a different trajectory. So he basically humiliated me in front of the whole class. So what happened was I was in his class and this guy was a big, strong guy, big.

The above transcript is generated using AI technology and therefore may contain errors.

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