By Sean Reed
Marcus "The Wrecking Ball” Hicks didn’t inflict much physical damage growing up in West Texas.
Born in Clarksville and raised in Tulia, “I had the occasional fights here and there, but I wouldn’t say that I fought a lot growing up”, he explains. “I played football, basketball and I ran track. I didn’t start training and fighting until I got to Dallas.”
Seeing more opportunities for success in the big city, Hicks adopted “Big D” as his home and pursued the fight game. It was the wisest decision he's ever made; Marcus has crafted an almost mythical aura for himself in the DFW Metroplex.
This Sunday, March 1st, Hicks (10-1, 2 KO's, 5 submissions) will bump heads with "Razor" Rob McCullough in a World Extreme Championship (WEC) lightweight bout held at the American Bank Center, in Corpus Christi, Tx (Broadcast live on VERSUS at 8pm CST).
Just say the words "Marcus Hicks" on the Supreme Warrior Championship (SWC) circuit in Frisco (where Marcus frequently has students of his competing and was the guest of honor at one of their fight cards). Or go to Arlington and drop Hicks' name around the Xtreme Knockout stable. Literally, everybody involved with mixed martial arts in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area knows exactly who you’re talking about.
The name even resonates with most of our regions active professional boxers.
Marcus won the 2003 Dallas Golden Gloves in the 178 lb. open division. In his 2nd amateur boxing fight, Hicks fought Johnathon Banks of Detroit's famed Kronk Gym.. After compiling a 3 wins, 2 losses amateur ledger of 3-2, Hicks decided to turn pro.
Under the tutelage of John "Lawman" Lawson, Marcus gained invaluable boxing experience in a relatively short period of time; meeting “The Contender-Season 2” contestant, Walter Wright, in his 3rd bout.. He also appeared on the undercard of “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas’ affair with Raymond Joval (in Corpus Christi), and challenged Brian Vera (“The Contender-Season 3” contestant) for the Texas state middleweight strap.
The Vera fight was broadcast live by Telefutura’s “Solo Boxeo”, as were several more of Marcus’ boxing matches.
He also used to regularly spar with former national golden gloves champions by the names of Allan Green and Eric Fields. Green (26-1, 18 KO’s) is a world-class super middleweight these days and Fields (11-1, 9 KO’s) is currently climbing up the cruiserweight ladder. Hicks’ pugilistic record stands at 5-4-1, 2 KO’s, but all the while, he was simultaneously working towards something else.
More than seven years ago, Marcus started learning Brazilian Jujitsu and immediately entered (and won) tournaments; the Carlos Machado tourney (several times over), the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) Worlds, NAGA Pro-Am and a host of other competitions. He’s even traveled to Brazil and trained at Gracie Barra.
Hicks now has his own school (Hicks MMA & Jujitsu, 1355 N. Cowan Ave., Lewisville, Tx., 75057) where the motto is "Go get 'em". Nobody embodies that slogan more than the head coach.
In 2002, Hicks made his mixed martial arts debut at the Rocky Mountain Slammer, winning by submission. All told his MMA record is 10-1, with 2 KO’s and 5 submissions.
Strangely, WEC (the sister organization to the UFC) only credits Marcus with 8 wins, but after running down the list of names that Sherdog had listed, Marcus recalled all 10 of his victories.
Hicks made his WEC debut in May of 2007, against Sergio Gomez. Gomez caught Hicks with a shot, moments after the opening bell, which immediately caused swelling to Marcus’ eye. Nonetheless, he ended up tapping Gomez with a guillotine choke, in the second round, in what would become WEC’s 4th ranked submission on their “2007 Magnificent Seven” list.
He destroyed Scott McAfee and Ed Ratcliff (at the time the # 1 ranked lightweight in the world), putting them out of their misery with the same finishing move.
It wasn't until his title shot against Jamie Varner that Hicks met defeat for the first time in mixed martial arts. But even in losing, Hicks dominated the bulk of the action.
The same could be said for most of Hicks' boxing matches as well, particularly his biggest pugilistic contest to date, against Brian Vera.
Interestingly, when Hicks challenged Vera for the vacant Texas state middleweight boxing title, he was already the Texas welterweight champ in MMA. I’m not sure if any fighter has held boxing and mixed martial arts belts (regional or otherwise) simultaneously, but Hicks came awfully close to pulling it off.
For the better part of four rounds, Marcus beat Vera like a drum, wobbling and dropping him along the way. But the tough, ballsy Vera never wilted and stopped Hicks along the ropes in round 5 of an extremely fan-friendly fight.
Though he’s realistic about his career path, Hicks still won’t officially close the door on his boxing career. “Right now, I’m tied to WEC. I’m happy and they’re paying my bills, but I do still want to box again someday.”
He won’t rest until he gets a rematch with Vera and points to improved conditioning for why he’ll do better next time. His dream MMA bout would be with “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn.
Marcus is in a unique position, having experienced both boxing and MMA. When asked which he finds more challenging, Hicks said, “In boxing, you only have to worry about hands, but on the flipside, all you can use is your hands. If you get tired or in trouble you can’t grab the man and take him to the ground. Personally, having fewer options is more of a challenge.”
When asked about the proposed match-up between Roy Jones Jr. and Anderson Silva, Hicks felt both men would be better off in their own sports.
“Anderson Silva’s a good striker as far as MMA is concerned, but he’d be going into a field that Roy Jones has done all his life. Roy Jones is not some average boxer; he’s competed in the Olympics and was pound for pound one of the best in the world.
“The thing is, Silva was talking about going into Roy Jones’ neck of the woods.. IIt’d be like Roy Jones going into Silva’s neck of the woods; he wouldn’t have his advantages in MMA. It’s hard knowing the in’s and out’s coming from another profession. If a boxer had always been working his jujitsu and ground game like I’ve done, it’d be different.
Surprisingly, Hicks’ aspirations aren’t just revolving around titles or what organization he’s in.
“Honestly, I want to have an explosive, destructive aura like a young Mike Tyson had. I want people to expect knockouts or submissions when I fight and always look forward to my fights. I have a photographic memory so I study a young Tyson for his combinations and the head and foot movement. I study Dan Gable for his wrestling and I check out some Muay Thai here and there.
“I just want to put on good fights and compete where the good fighters are. If WEC keeps bringing them in, I’m happy with that. If it eventually leads to UFC, that’s cool too. The division doesn’t really matter. I’m currently at 155, but I could go down to 145. Like I said, I just want to be where good fighters are. I think I could go as high as 170 or 185, down the road.”