Introducing Justin “Lionheart” Mead
By Sandi Martin
Fighting out of Gladiators Academy under UFC veteran fighter and south Louisiana’s premier coach and fight promoter, Tim Credeur, Justin is currently the 11th ranked bantamweight in the state of Louisiana. After 12 amateur bouts and a somewhat rough start this BJJ purple belt started to find his groove. Now he’s 1-1-0 after only 2 professional fights and while that might not impress you, there’s plenty about this 30 year-old new pro that will.
I liked him before our interview… now to call me a fan would be an understatement. Justin is under no delusions about where his strengths and weaknesses lie. His BJJ is good, his stand-up is wild and he takes a fair amount of punishment. The upside? This tough guy can take it on the chin and keep moving forward. He’s also not afraid to take a fight on 3 days’ notice, nor is he afraid of any opponent he might be matched up with.
He loves fighting and always keeps his weight in check so he’s never in the position to turn down a good opportunity for fear of not being able to cut enough weight. He wants to fight at least 4 more times in 2019 and I have no doubt he’ll achieve that goal. Win or lose, Justin is exciting in a way that makes you feel like he’s earned that Lionheart moniker the hard way. Humble and generally good-natured, he was an absolute joy to talk to and I was actually sad when our chat was over.
How did you get the name Lionheart?
“I guess it’s because I’m tougher than I am talented,” he chuckled. “That’s definitely something I’ve got to work on and I’ve tried to work on because in reality that’s not a smart way to fight, y’know. Why take all that punishment if I don’t have to? So I’m trying to change some things up to get more technical. But at the end of the day it’s a fight so whenever the bell rings and he touches me we might just be fighting.”
I’ve seen a lot of talented fighters, BJJ guys, wrestlers, strikers that have a glass chin and can’t really fight because of it. So maybe that’s not a bad thing?
“It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m not gonna get knocked out. You might beat the shit out of me but if I gotta pick my limp body up and throw it at you then that’s what I’m gonna do. Especially now that I’ve got a wife and kids y’know it makes you think a lot about longevity and stuff. Not wanting to take too much. It doesn’t hurt to have a good chin but you don’t necessarily want to have to test it all the time.”
How does your wife feel about your fighting style and the punishment you take?
“Oh wow, she’s my biggest critic and my biggest fan at the same time. She’s ruthless. She’ll tell me, ‘What the f..k are you doing? You look stupid out there. You need to work on this. Oh because they said it you’ll listen to them and not me?’ She knows what she’s talking about y’know? She’s been with me for 6 years. She’s gonna start doing BJJ pretty soon, she’s just not big into people in her personal space. I’ve harassed her a little about it and nudged her but she’ll do it when she’s ready. I think like a lot of women she’s a little concerned about the male/female aspect but if you get them in the women’s class that comfort level opens up a little bit and they feel more comfortable rolling with the guys.”
You’re a Pro Fighter now. How does that feel?
“Yes ma’am. I didn’t think it would feel as different as it does because in reality it’s still just a fight. But now it matters. I guess the 12 amateur fights I’ve had I guess I just got used to it and developed a sense of calm. I kind of had some anxiety about the Devin Jones fight and it shouldn’t have stopped the way it was but I was still more mentally prepared for that fight than I was for this one on 3 days’ notice. I definitely felt confident going into the fight, but At the same time, right before the fight I think it contributed to my adrenaline dump.
“My heart was pounding right before I went out. Why am I so freaked out? I could see my heart pounding through my chest, making my shirt move. I said you’re better than this guy everywhere but I was also thinking oh, I can’t be 0-2. I started letting those mental pressures build up and it almost cost me.
“I was slow to the draw on the punches and he outstruck me. It left me basically gassed out at the end of the first round and luckily we trained hard enough to where I was able to overcome that and win. I felt like my performance wasn’t great, really sloppy. I was reacting to him.
“The fear of defeat had me worried to act and I had to revert back to my instincts to win that fight. I trained a lot of wrestling for this fight. If you watch my previous fights I lost a lot of rounds trying to get submissions off my back. I’d go for high risk submissions like flying triangles but those are high risk high reward moves. If you get it it’s over, but if you don’t it leaves you in a vulnerable position. Going into these last 2 fights I had it on my mind to wrestle a little more. Also, in 14 fights that’s the first time I’ve fought all 3 rounds and won a decision.”
We talked about the possibility of Justin fighting five rounds one day, the greatness that is Tim Credeur, his possibilities for a future in MMA at age 30, what he calls his “garbage footwork,” and his propensity towards those highlight reel type flying submissions at great length. The entire interview lasted about an hour and we’ll get the audio up as soon as possible.
I want to thank Justin “Lionheart” Mead for taking the time to talk to me and I can’t wait to see him in the cage again… the sooner the better.