Undefeated Canadian heavyweight Dustin Joynson has One Championship gold in his crosshairs

Dustin Joynson
Dustin Joynson celebrates his victory over Caio Machado at BFL 58. (Photo by Nelson Yeo/MMA Sucka)

Victoria, B.C.’s Dustin Joynson (6-0) makes his One Championship debut this Friday at One: Next Gen in Kallang, Singapore against fellow undefeated heavyweight Kiryl Grischenko (4-0).

Joynson, 36, said he already has his sights set on the top of the division, including fellow Canadian and current One heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar.

Despite still being early in his professional career, Joynson has competed across promotions such as BFL, CFFC and even Dana White’s Contender Series, and said the opportunity to ultimately sign with One Championship made the most financial and even familial sense.

“My wife is half Filipino and her whole family basically lives throughout the Philippines. She’s got family in Manila but most of it’s in Bohol. I’ve been there a few times myself and I love the Philippines. You know, my brother in law’s there too and we’re pretty close,” said Joynson in an interview with MMA Empire.

“I would love if they (One Championship) would have another event in Manila, like they have in the past, so maybe some family members could come check me out. I think they do the fights at the Mall of Asia, which is pretty awesome; it’s a huge mall. The thing I’m really hoping for, though, is to get some fights in North America because they were talking about having some fights in America at some point, and if that happens I’d more than love to fight on one of those cards. You know, flying for sixteen hours isn’t my idea of fun.”

After an active 2017, Joynson has since averaged just one fight per year resulting from a series of injuries and cancelled bouts, with one such cancellation being a matchup originally scheduled for this past April with his present opponent in Grischenko.

He said 2020 and the pandemic further inhibited his training regimen, as it did for many others, but that this accumulation of obstacles has only increased his desire to prove himself once more on what is doubtless the biggest card he has ever competed on.

“Fighting has been greatly affected (by the pandemic), especially in Canada. There wasn’t a lot of cards happening, right. On top of that I had to leave gyms. I was training at Zuma (Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts) and then the pandemic happened and a bunch of things went on, like drama, so I kind of had to leave,” said Joynson.

“I joined TFA (The Fitness Academy) about a year and a bit ago now, and I’m happy where I’m at. I feel like I get good attention on my training and I feel like I’ve never been in better shape.”

As far as his opponent goes, Joynson said he has left most of the research to his team but anticipates an adversary on Friday who, at least on paper, could possess atypical traits for the weight class.

“The only thing I really know is he’s got a good wrestling background. Most wrestlers that I know have pretty decent cardio, so I can see him being really well-conditioned,” said Joynson.

“I haven’t really looked up too much about his fights. I get my coaches to and then we kind of game-plan, like, ‘if he tries to grab you, do this,’ and so on. I just try not to get it too set in my head otherwise I’ll be thinking too much about what he’s going to do over what I’m going to do.”

As for the champion, Bhullar, Joynson said he is focused on Grischenko at present, yet can’t help but contemplate the possibility of a Canadian-versus-Canadian heavyweight title fight in Asia with a man he has trained with in the past, and isn’t particularly fond of.

“Obviously getting that belt is a huge deal and I know Arjan has it, and I’d gladly fight him for it. I trained with him before in Vancouver when he was getting ready for his fights in the UFC. I don’t know, he’s kind of arrogant. He kind of came off like a d**k to me. I didn’t really like his attitude much, especially because I was there to help him and he kind of just tossed me aside like I was nothing, just there for him to play with and then send off. There was nothing, like, special in what I saw. Yeah he’s a big guy in the sense that he’s super heavy, but honestly it looks like he could probably drop a weight class,” said Joynson.

“I’m always focused on one fight at a time but, you know, I would gladly call him out after the fight if they (One Championship) would be willing because I feel like he would feel that I was an easy fight. So, you know, why not give me that chance? In his mind there’s probably scarier guys in One than me, but I know I could give him a good run.”

Joynson said his confidence doesn’t necessarily come from his unblemished record but the fighter he has consciously and painstakingly moulded himself into over the years, as well as discovered in moments of adversity inside the cage.

He said he believes he is one among a new wave, and seemingly burgeoning era, of younger, more athletic heavyweights, yet at the same time knows from experience that his spirit will not fail him when his body threatens to.

“My heart for sure is one of my weapons; I’ve been known to grind it out. For instance, when I fought for Battlefield (Fight League) it was five five-minute rounds against (Caio) Machado— Machado’s a super tough guy—and I hurt my back pretty good at the very end of the third round, and I could barely move. I just kept telling myself ‘just push forward, just keep pushing forward, you can win this fight, just grind it out, grind him on the cage, just keep hitting him, just keep moving forward,'” said Joynson.

“Then when I fought Carl (Seumanutafa), man those leg kicks were brutal, and I could not stand for a good two solid weeks after that fight. I remember they had to take me to the hospital just to see if my leg wasn’t just broken apart inside, but as long as a fight is going I can mentally tell myself ‘it’s just five more minutes, three more minutes, two more minutes, doesn’t matter how much pain you’re in.’ But I’m also pretty smart about how I fight too. I don’t just stick my head out there and chuck wildly, you know. I play it pretty smart and I haven’t really taken much damage to the head because of that.”

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