Fresh off his first big win, a Saanich mixed martial arts fighter has his eyes on a world heavyweight title.
Dustin Joynson was 19 and working as a doorman when he got inspired to change careers. Watching the paid-per-view UFC fights at the bar where he worked, Joynson decided he would give it a go.
He went to a mixed martial arts gym and told the staff he wanted to fight. The trainer 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’d started his training. Two years after that in 2014, he debuted professionally. Since then he has earned a 7-1 win-loss record across multiple competitions fighting everywhere from Vancouver to Singapore.
He won his first big fight on Feb. 11. It was the first One Championship headline fight Joynson had fought in, against the previously undefeated Hugo Cunha in Singapore, winning by decision.
Joynson said he hopes he can kick on from here, but getting those fights has been a struggle. After his debut in 2014, Joynson had seven fights were canceled in three years. He only fought once a year from 2018 to 2021. During that period he fought for nine different promotional companies during that time, which was unusual as most fighters stick to one. But Joynson was looking to keep moving up. He switched gyms, hoping to take the next step in his career, now training at Fitness Academy in Victoria.
In 2019 Joyson had an audition to fight for UFC, the most famous mixed martial arts promotion company, which if he won would have meant he was signed to the competition’s roster. But two minutes into the fight, it was called off when Joynson’s opponent gouged his eyes and Joynson couldn’t see. The fight ended in a no contest, but Joynson lost his chance to fight in the UFC. He signed with One Championship instead, a mixed martial arts competition based out of Singapore.
In the Cunha and UFC qualifying fights, Joynson said he was the underdog.
“I feel like the last few fights, One Championship is kind of trying to throw me out to the wolves and see how I kind of survive. But each time I’ve done fairly well.”
Joynson said his opponents in the heavyweight class are consistently bigger than him, meaning he prides himself on his cardio. He added while his opponents may train at bigger gyms with world-class trainers, the trainers can’t help them when they’re in the ring.
“When we get in 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 everything I can to win, and I will see who crumbles first. I’ve never been known to crumble.”
Now, Joynson is waiting for that opportunity. He trains every morning and works as a custodian at a school in the Sooke School District during the evenings to keep a steady living. Usually, fighters earn $10,000 for participating and $10,000 for winning, with pay increasing for more experienced fighters.
“If I don’t win now then I’m not making anything. At least I have a full-time job and I got a pension going, so I’m still trying to figure out my future in terms of that,” he said.
“People say, ‘Why don’t you quit and just be a full-time fighter?’ Because I don’t make 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 said he may have a shot at the heavyweight title sometime in the near future.