How did you first discover martial arts?
I first discovered martial arts in university. I was playing football at the time and had just become a huge follower of the UFC. I had always told people I did this and that but I was just lying. It wasn’t until I had an injury and decided I was no longer in love with football to come back from it did I decide to stop lying about martial arts and actually go do martial arts. I attended my first Brazilian jujitsu class a few months after I stopped playing football and got my butt kicked. I showed up the next day with some money for a gi and the monthly fee and the rest was history.
Describe the role Pprofessor Omar Salvosa has played in your development as a fighter?
Professor Salvosa and I first met after I had been training for about 5-6 months. At that time I was attending an academy where the rankings were very flawed. I was beating up people with higher ranks and I really thought I was a bad ass. My very first class at professor Salvosa’s was during my summer break of my last year of university. I got choked so much I was dizzy the whole bus ride home and was too sick to eat food. That’s when I knew I was in the right place. Professor Salvosa has always been inspiring me. The first thing you notice is the amount of integrity, honour and respect he gives you and each and every student. The dojo was stressed as a team atmosphere and not a place where individuals flourish. His emphasis on hard work is something that was the biggest thing. I used to come late and skip the hard warm-ups and workout they did before class until I realized that the conditioning was not meant to kill you. It was meant to push your brain and tell yourself you can do more even when you think you can’t. It’s these lessons from professor Salvosa that have done the most for me. He truly inspired me to be a better person both on and off the mat.
What does it mean to be a true martial artist?
This is something that means a lot to me. I am honoured to call myself a true martial artist. Martial arts is not about your next fight or tournament. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s not about your rank or skill. It’s about attaining a better “you”. Being a true martial artist means that you never want to stop training because you always want to learn more about your art and yourself. It means that you leave all your problems at the door and open your mind to something new. It means that you train safely and respectfully for you and your partner’s health. It means not being jealous about others success and being happy that they have achieved something higher. It means working hard while others are out partying or relaxing. But most importantly a true martial artist has integrity, honour, humility and mostly respect for others.
Describe the feeling you have before you enter the cage to fight. What’s going through your mind?
Not much really. I found out very early in my fighting career that anger and hyping myself up just clouds my judgment and makes me very non-technical and not disciplined. I really now just walk out and into the cage with the feeling of happiness. I am happy that I get to do something I love and that I have been blessed with the physical attributes and athletic ability to do it. I sort of follow some words my hero Anderson Silva once said “ I do not fight to win, I fight to exit the octagon the same way I entered”
How did you discover Team Strong Athlete and why did you feel this was the team for you?
I first knew of coach PK through my professor at university. So at first I made contact looking to see if anyone could help with finding me employment straight out of school. After a few months I kept seeing Strong Athlete’s Facebook posts and on social media. It was not till I lost a fight did I reach out to Team Strong Athlete. I knew I was the better fighter that night but it had nothing to do with my skills. It had everything to do with my conditioning, strength and mental status. After I recovered from the fight I decided it was time to stop trying to do things on my own and find people who can help me on my journey. That’s when I contacted coach PK and haven’t looked back.
How has your strength and conditioning impacted your fight game?
My fight game has made a 360 degree turn with the addition of the strength and conditioning I receive from Team Strong Athlete. The biggest thing in a fight is who can last longer. With the increased cardio, strength, balance, speed and agility I have gained it has opened my mind to focus on what counts: my technique. When I don’t have to worry about my gas tank I can spend my time analyzing the situation and making smart decisions on the mat and in the cage. That’s the biggest thing the strength and conditioning has done for me. I did not have this luxury before I began with Team Strong Athlete.
How has nutrition helped to make you a better fighter?
I used to think that just because I put in 3-4 hours in the gym I had an excuse to eat whatever I wanted to. Losing weight was a foreign concept to me as well as energy levels. Slowly but surely I gained the knowledge with Team Strong Athlete that an athlete that eats well performs well. I realized quickly that a subway sandwich won’t give me the nutrients I need to recover from two practices a day. Coach PK has helped guide me to make better nutritional choices and in my last weight cut I felt amazing on fight week, not depleted or deprived at all. The last 7 pounds were very easy to cut and I did not suffer or even step foot in a sauna to lose the weight. Not only that but the nutrition is why I’ve had such a big change in my physique. I not only perform like a mixed martial artist I look the part now as well.
Where do you see yourself professionally within the next 5 years?
I am actually really looking forward to the journey over the next 5 years. I am anxious to put in my time as an amateur and fight professionally. As a kid it was always my dream to be a professional athlete so I’m looking forward to that especially since the goal is within sight. I’m also looking forward to traveling the world to fight. MMA is amazing in the fact that unlike other sports you can find great training and technique all over the world from big to small countries. I’m looking forward to competing internationally and testing my skills as well as learning various forms of other arts and cultures while in my travels. In 5 years I would like to be in one of the larger promotions fighting and being able to make a living from the fight game. Not a lot of fighters have that luxury. I would love to be able to not work a 9-5 job but instead wake up and train and not have to worry about how food, rent or my school loans are being paid.