LFA 40’s Austin Lingo: “Hit the Guy Hard, and He’ll Fall.”
Austin “Lights Out” Lingo is an undefeated featherweight prospect fighting in Legacy Fighting Alliance. The 3-0 Dallas, Texas, native turned pro in 2017. He has quickly made a name for himself, with two finishes in his first three fights. Fighting out of Fortis MMA, Lingo spoke to MMA Today ahead of his LFA 40 fight on May 25, 2018 about his beginnings in the sport, his mentality when he fights, his game plan for his opponent, and more.
While some fighters find martial arts, martial arts found Austin Lingo. As a young teenager, Lingo was involved in an altercation with a friend. His father, however, didn’t approve. “Well, really, I got into a little dispute with one of my friends, and we got into a little street fight. There was a video of it, and my dad said, ‘there’s no way that’s going to happen anymore. You’ve got to do it at a gym.'”
During the search for a gym that followed, a chance event altered his MMA career before it even began. “I told him, ‘well, can you take me to a boxing gym,’ and then he took me to this boxing gym, but they were closed at the time. There was a Tae Kwon Do school next door, so we signed up for that. That’s how I really got into it.”
Although boxing and Tae Kwon Do were principal interests in Lingo’s martial arts beginnings, he is well-rounded. Lingo is the owner of a lightning fast, sub-minute guillotine submission win. Despite his myriad of styles, he says there’s no question as to his favorites. “Stand up, all the way. I love just standing up and banging with somebody. If they outclass me, then yeah, I’ll take them down, but I doubt they will. I’m a pretty aggressive person.”
That aggression pairs nicely with Lingo’s explosive striking. In fact, it is so integrated in his style that it has made its way to his nickname, ‘Lights Out’. “Well, I wanted the nickname to begin with. My dad said, ‘no, you’ve got to earn that name: you never knocked anybody out.'”
So Lingo set out to earn his nickname. “So I went into my first fight, got a TKO, and he was like, ‘okay, well, you didn’t knock him completely out.'” That still wasn’t enough for Lingo’s father.
Finally, Lingo became worthy of his moniker. “The fight after that, I knocked the guy unconscious, and he was like, ‘okay, now we can call you Light’s Out.’ Then I knocked another guy out after that, and the ball just kept rolling.”
If you haven’t noticed by now, Lingo has a savage mentality when he fights. He goes in with the sole intention of defeating his opponent, almost always by way of finish. As for what goes through his mind when he steps into the cage, Lingo had this to say: “Man, just don’t lose eye contact; just keep looking at him. As soon as that bell rings, just go. I don’t want to play ‘who’s better than who technically;’ I don’t want to risk it. I’m pressuring you.
“It’s like sprinting in a race: you want to start faster than everybody else and just outrun them. If you want to be faster than somebody, you have to just start.”
Out of all of the factors that lead to his success, Lingo credits his team at Fortis MMA the most. He paints a picture of a hardworking, dedicated environment in the Dallas, Texas, gym. “Oh man, it’s awesome. I know all the guys: Charles Byrd, Geoff Neal, Ramiz [Brahimaj], Miles Johns, all those guys. They grind everyday. They work hard, man. Steven Peterson, all those guys, they are awesome to train with. They’re so high level.”
As for how high level the team is at Fortis, check out MMA Today’s Max Freedman’s profile of the surging team here. Within those four walls, the teammates at Fortis know just how good they are.
“Coach [Sayif Saud] was naming off people the other day. He was like, ‘I guarantee that him, him, him, and him – they’re in the top 10 in the world right now.'”
Lingo shares that sentiment. “There’s no doubt. They just grind, you know? They’re in the gym three, four times a day just going hard. I’m in the gym pretty much all the time.”
Up until 2017, all of Lingo’s gym-time was spent honing his skills for amateur competition. He quickly won his first three amateur bouts by knockout, earning a spot on the first ever LFA card (formerly Legacy FC). In that matchup, however, Lingo fell short to Charles Williams, losing by first-round TKO.
The match was not without controversy. Lingo came out with his trademark aggression, throwing a flying knee. The knee missed as Williams circled to his left, and Lingo fell to the ground. After getting to his feet, Lingo slipped against the cage. Losing his footing, Lingo was tagged with a well-placed punch that dropped him to the mat.
The referee stepped in immediately, and in Lingo’s opinion, too soon. “Oh man, after that fight, everybody just booed and threw cups in the ring and beer was getting thrown everywhere and I slipped, and the ref called it too early.”
Although he didn’t get the outcome he wanted, Lingo knew he could do better. “Literally after just ten seconds of being in the ring with that guy, I was like, ‘I could’ve beat the heck out of him if I hadn’t done that knee.’ I read him automatically.
Then he turned pro, and I was going to turn pro right after that fight anyway. They were going to match me up with someone else, and then they were like, ‘well, do you want to find the guy that you fought last in your amateur?’ I was like, ‘oh- oh, heck yeah. Please let me fight him!'”
And so, in his first professional fight, Lingo took on the only man to ever defeat him in competition. At LFA 16, “Lights Out” picked up a resounding unanimous decision to avenge his amateur loss and kick off his professional career.
As for whether or not beating Williams had any added significance, Lingo was adamant. “Yes, it definitely did. I ended up breaking that guy’s nose; his eye was swollen shut. He sent me a picture the next day.”
With his previous amateur fights and his two professional fights in the promotion, Lingo will make his fifth appearance for LFA on May 25. Lingo believes fighting in LFA lets him fight in the spotlight. “It’s awesome man. It’s like the next thing is the UFC. With LFA, I feel like I’m in the big-time, you know. It’s like: TV, marketing, sponsors, calls, all the good stuff.”
In addition to the glamour of nationally televised fights, Lingo believes LFA has even more to offer. Lingo says the promotion’s motto, ‘Where the Future Is Now’, applies to him. “I think I am [the future]. I’ve been training forever. I was in that generation of the future fighters when I was growing up. Now we’re all in LFA, so I think we’re all just the future. It’s cool showing the world the new stuff.”
Of course, Lingo’s undefeated record is evidence of his mastery of that “new stuff”. But even in a sport where being undefeated is a rarity, Lingo says he doesn’t feel any added pressure. “I mean, it doesn’t bother me. All you’ve got to do is hit the guy hard, and he’ll fall. You can’t leave it to the judges. Really, it’s just not leaving it to the judges if you want to stay undefeated.”
Joining Lingo in the ‘undefeated club’ is his LFA 40 opponent, Kennith Porter. As for how Lingo plans to take out his latest foe, his gameplan is straightforward – literally. “Go straight at him as soon as the bell rings; a lot like my other fights. Throw combos right down the middle. As soon as he drops his hands… you can’t put your hands up with those MMA gloves on. You can, but they’re not boxing gloves.”
“They don’t cover your whole face. And I hit hard.”
That hard-hitting power might just be on display May 25. Lingo says he wants to add another highlight to his resume. “I don’t know if I’m going to do something crazy like I did my amateur career with that flying knee, but I might do a spinning back-elbow, or something solid and nice.”
If he does get the highlight-reel win, he’ll be doing it in his hometown of Dallas, in front of his friends and family. While some people get nervous in that situation, Lingo says it couldn’t be further from reality for him. “I love it. People always ask me, ‘oh, are you pressured whenever we all come and show up?’ I’m just like, ‘man, I don’t care if you’re there or not there.’ When I’m in the ring, I’m in the ring. I don’t care. I don’t think about anything else. I’m just in a fight.”
Although Lingo is by no means looking past Porter, he does have some ambitions for the future. “I want a contract with LFA, probably to get a contract with like three more fights, maybe, hopefully, for this year. Then after that, next year, I’m looking at the Contender Series with the UFC. Not for this year though, for next year.”
The Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, which will air its second season this summer, has been a magnet for rising talent. Lingo, will several more wins under his belt, could be a prime candidate for a slot on the show. But while he’s in LFA, Lingo has one ultimate goal.
The main event of LFA 40 is a featherweight title unification between current champion, Kevin Aguilar, and current interim champion, Thanh Le. Lingo says his sights are set on that championship belt. “Oh, definitely. Heck yeah. I mean, I think I can dominate both of those guys. I’ve seen how both of them fight. I think I’m better than a lot of these,” Lingo pauses, contemplating his words, “all of these guys in LFA.”
In short, it’s clear from the tape that Austin “Lights Out” Lingo is an exciting, explosive prospect. And from his confidence and level-headedness, it’s clear that his future is bright in martial arts. Make sure to catch Lingo as he faces Kennith Porter at LFA 40 on May 25 on AXS TV Fights.
May 25. Dallas, TX. The Bomb Factory for LFA #40. Get your tickets now. #LightsOut #LightsOutLingo #undefeated #pro #mma #fights #dallas #tx #Texas #dfw #DFWMMA #deepellum #txmma @LFAfighting @AXSTVFights @bombfactorydfw pic.twitter.com/cg6LTWEKDM
— Austin Lingo (@austinlingo) May 1, 2018
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UPDATE (5/23): Lingo’s opponent, Kennith Porter, has withdrawn from the fight due to injury. Phil Gonzalez (2-1) has stepped in as a late-notice replacement for LFA 40.