From Ed to Lex, McMahon family's USMC ties run deep

Eye on Veterans
June 21, 2019 - 12:00 pm
Col. Ed McMahon (l) and his son Cpl. Lex McMahon (r)

Photos courtesy Christa Chapman; Lex McMahon

You're not supposed to get phone calls in boot camp.

If you do, it typically means something very bad has happened back home. That was Lex McMahon's first thought when the Senior Drill Instructor called him into his office and told the young recruit he had a phone call just before graduation.

It was his mom, and when a worried Lex asked her who had died she assured him everything was ok. She didn't have bad news, just something she thought was very important to tell him.

"She says 'honey listen, I'll be at graduation and I just wanted you to know I'll be bringing my boyfriend," McMahon recalled during an appearance on the Eye on Veterans radio show. "I'm like 'you're kidding, right? Do you know how dearly I'm gonna pay for this phone call about who your boyfriend is?' She goes 'well it's kind of important that you know who he is before he comes.' And I was like 'Ok, mom. Sure. While I'm doing push-ups, tell me who your boyfriend is.' And she says 'well, I'm dating Ed McMahon.'"

Lex, who currently serves as the COO of MMA promotion Titan FC, immediately understood why it had been important for her to tell him. In fact, he'd recently learned in a boot camp Marine Corps history class that the man best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick was a Marine Corps aviator who retired as a Colonel who served as a flight instructor during WW2 before flying 85 combat missions over Korea.

"That to me was the coolest thing," McMahon said. "Not that he was an entertainer, and an icon in the entertainment industry from Star Search, the Tonight Show and all the various things he did for 50 years. To me, the coolest thing was that he was a Colonel in the Marine Corps." 

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Lex would call Ed 'Colonel' even after he left the Corps, right up until he was in law school and turned 26. That was when he started calling him dad.

"My birthday comes along and he says 'here, I've got something for you'" McMahon, whose biological father left his life for good when he was just three months old, said. "And I open up the wrapping paper in the box and it's an adoption decree."

Their relationship as father and son would also end up playing a role in Lex's journey to the world of MMA. Lex began helping Ed negotiate business contracts, one of which was for a Super Bowl commercial for Cash 4 Gold featuring Ed and Navy vet MC Hammer. The commercial was a big hit, and so was the working relationship with all parties involved.

Lex, Hammer and Cash 4 Gold founder Jeff Aronson would eventually partner up to sponsor fighters, including Army vet and UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture. Years later, Aronson and McMahon would dive into the MMA world in a big way, with Aronson purchasing a majority share in Titan FC and tabbing Lex as his COO.

UFC President Dana White and Titan FC COO Lex McMahon
Photo courtesy Lex McMahon

Lex credits the network of veterans he's worked with for a large part of his success. It's both for that reason, as well as to honor his dad who passed away in 2009, he does whatever he can to help his fellow vets. To that end, Titan FC has held several events to benefit veteran and military organizations and even sent fighters overseas to visit the troops including a 2016 trip to Kuwait by Lex and several Titan fighters.

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For McMahon, it all comes down to giving back, just like so many did for him. 

Titan FC COO Lex McMahon and Titan FC Fighters visit with EOD troops on a 2016 visit to Kuwait
Photo courtesy Titan FC

"It's not just Hammer and Randy," McMahon said. "There's so many people I've worked with over the years that have been a huge part of my growth professionally in this industry, and they're veterans. Really you can run the gamut of places and times that we served, but we all have that common thread of service. It's been a tremendous network for me, and one I encourage every veteran to think about as they're transitioning from active duty and realize there's this tremendous network for them to tap in to. As long as they take the time to engage it." 

Lex says his future will consist of the same things he's been doing for years. On the business side of things, he'll be running Titan FC, including their next event Titan FC 55 which takes place June 28th in Fort Lauderdale. But he says he'll spend just as much time, if not more, helping vets because, as dad taught him, that's what a McMahon does. 

You can hear the full interview with Lex McMahon below. 

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