Saanich MMA fighter hopes to go from bartender to world champion – Saanich News

Fresh off his first big win, a mixed martial arts fighter from Saanich has his sights set on a world heavyweight title.

Dustin Joynson was 19 and working as a bartender when he was inspired to change careers. Watching paid UFC fights at the bar where he worked, Joynson decided to give it a shot.

He went to a mixed martial arts gym and told the staff he wanted to fight. The coach wanted to see two years of solid training before Joynson could compete in his first fight. Ultimately, he wouldn’t make his amateur debut until 2012, more than four years after he began training. Two years later, in 2014, he made his professional debut. Since then, he has earned a 7-1 win-loss record in multiple competitions, battling everywhere from Vancouver to Singapore.

He won his first big fight on February 11. It was the first One Championship headliner fight in which Joynson had fought, against previously undefeated Hugo Cunha in Singapore, winning by decision.

Joynson said he hoped he could start from here, but getting those fights has been a struggle. After debuting in 2014, Joynson has had seven bouts canceled in three years. He only fought once a year from 2018 to 2021. During that time he fought for nine different promotion companies during that time which was unusual as most fighters stick to one. But Joynson was looking to keep making progress. He changed gyms, hoping to take the next step in his career, now training at the Fitness Academy in Victoria.

In 2019 Joyson auditioned to fight for the UFC, the most famous mixed martial arts promotion company, which if he had won would have meant he was made the roster for the competition. But two minutes into the fight it was called off when Joynson’s opponent allegedly gouged out his eyes and Joynson couldn’t see. The fight ended in a tie, but Joynson lost his chance to fight in the UFC. He instead signed with One Championship, a Singapore-based mixed martial arts competition.

In Cunha and UFC qualifying bouts, Joynson said he was the underdog.

“I feel like the last few fights, One Championship is kind of trying to throw me to the wolves and see how I kind of survive. But each time, I did pretty well.

Joynson said his heavyweight opponents are always bigger than him, which means he prides himself on his cardio. He added that while his opponents can train in bigger gyms with world-class coaches, the coaches can’t help them when they’re in the ring.

“When we walk into that cage, they’re not there to help them. It’s just me and him. So I’m gonna put my heart on the line and do whatever I can to win, and I’ll see who goes down first. I’ve never been known to break down.

Now Joynson is waiting for that opportunity. He trains every morning and works as a janitor at a school in the Saanich School District during the evenings to earn a living. Usually, fighters earn $10,000 for participating and $10,000 for winning, with the pay increasing for more experienced fighters.

“If I don’t win now, I don’t win anything. At least I have a full-time job and I have a pension going, so I always try to figure out my future based on that,” he said.

“People say, ‘Why don’t you give up and just be a full-time fighter?’ Because I’m not making that kind of money yet. I tell them when I make Conor McGregor money – a few million a fight – then I’ll quit the day job.

Now, with several wins behind him, Joynson says he may have a shot at winning the heavyweight title in the near future.


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