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The double life of Tommy Morrisson

Concordia student and undefeated flyweight Tommy “Rambo” Morrisson hopes to arrive in the UFC sooner rather than later, all while pursuing his education

Born and raised in Montreal, Tommy “Rambo” Morrisson is slowly becoming a household name within Quebec’s MMA world.

He started off his career as a 9-1 amateur fighter before graduating to Samourai MMA, a Quebec-based promotion, and now holds a 3-0 professional record after his decisive win over Edwin Daniel Martinez Correa on March 11. With another notch on his belt, he’s now looking at returning for Samourai MMA 6 at the end of May in Sherbrooke.

The most interesting aspect of the 23-year-old’s life isn’t only the fact that he’s a highly touted prospect, but he’s also a part-time student at Concordia University, pursuing a degree in computer engineering.

Balancing two completely different career paths can be difficult, but not for Morrisson.

“I think the key is to balance everything well and be disciplined,” he said. “You have [to] cut time in other areas. For example, I don’t really go out. I see my friends sometimes, but when I’m in camp I don’t see them all that much. I train two, three times a day, six to seven days a week so I only take three classes per semester which makes it all possible for me.”

Even with the ultimate goal of fighting in the UFC, Morrisson will continue his studies until he gets his degree.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Evgrafov

“I don’t want to stop doing both, even if a big opportunity comes up I still want to get my degree,” he said. “I want to finish my bachelor’s degree, but my goal is to be a professional fighter in the UFC or any of the big leagues.”

Juggling the hectic life of a student along with being a professional athlete is difficult, but Morrisson knew this was his path long before his first amateur fight in 2017.

“I started approximately 10 years ago by doing judo, then jiu jitsu, wrestling, boxing and then I put it all together and started doing MMA at Tristar,” he said. “I really like working out of Tristar because the guys have a lot of experience, but I tend to train at other gyms as well to gain even more knowledge all around Montreal. I also train with kickboxing strawweight world champion Jonathan Di Bella.”

Morrisson’s dedication to his craft has led him to be one of the highest-ranked flyweights in all of Canada. His experience with every martial art has turned him into a very well-rounded fighter and “a specialist in everything,” as he put it.

“I always train multiple disciplines, I’m comfortable fighting in any style and I know I can get the fight wherever I want.”

Even though being an undergraduate student has its disadvantages, Morrisson hasn’t let them stop him from remaining undefeated with another dominant win versus Martinez Correa at Samourai MMA 5. Morrisson’s relentless pressure, technical kickboxing, and perfectly executed takedowns led him to his third straight professional victory, but it wasn’t without a bit of adversity.

“I was surprised by how tough he was,” said Morrisson. “He got out of two submissions. I thought he would try to wrestle me a little bit more.”

By getting his hand raised again, Morrisson proved that it’s all credited to his hard work, vigorous training, and commitment. He’s always looking to further the pursuit of his goals.

“I’d love to fight [UFC flyweight champion] Brandon Moreno one day,” Morrisson said boldly. “I look up to him and if he’s still there when I get to the UFC, I’d love to get a chance to fight him. I look up to Khabib Nurmagomedov as well for his hard work, discipline, and humbleness. I think in my everyday life I try my best to recreate everything he’s done.”

Those are definitely some big shoes to fill, but Morrisson only has one goal in mind:

“I want to be remembered as the best.”

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The UFC has produced another classic, this time down under

UFC 284 had everything for the casual or hardcore MMA fan: highlight reel knockouts, crafty submissions, and a crowd primed for violence

Islam Makhachev prevails and takes over as the #1 P4P fighter in the world

To the dismay of the Australian fans in attendance, UFC 284 did not disappoint as defending lightweight champion Islam Makhachev (24-1) put an end to Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski’s 22-fight win streak in controversial fashion. Notching the win by unanimous decision, Mahkachev defended his lightweight belt in enemy territory.

Many thought Makhachev’s superior wrestling would wear Volkanovski (25-2) down, but that wasn’t the case, as the latter’s ability to scramble and avoid compromising positions made for a very compelling fight.

As early as the first round, Volkanovski’s takedown defence was tested, but he passed with flying colours. He was also able to impressively defend his neck with the much bigger Makhachev on his back. With time, the fight slowly became a high-level kickboxing match with both fighters scoring knockdowns. Makhachev was able to show off his underrated striking, whereas Volkanovski displayed his elite takedown defence. 

The fight ended with Volkanovski on top, wreaking havoc on Makhachev’s face after he dropped him for the second time. Despite this, the judges gave Makhachev the victory. The scorecards read 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46, leading to a debate on whether or not the right call was made.

I can see a world where Makhachev won, but a 49-46 card is ridiculous. Either way, both the first and second-ranked P4P fighters in the world put on an absolute masterclass, easily surpassing Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill for fight of the year.

I don’t think Volkanovski’s stock dropped, and would even argue that he still deserves to be the number one P4P fighter in the world.

Hear me out. He went up the UFC’s hardest weight class, stood his ground, and put Makhachev in positions he’s never been in before. A lot of people doubted him, but I have a feeling that’s over. I’m not a huge fan of immediate rematches (especially with Yair Rodríguez looming in the wind), but I’d love to see them run it back this summer.

Yair Rodríguez becomes Mexico’s second UFC champion

As underrated as this fight was, the interim featherweight title fight didn’t disappoint. Rodríguez (16-3) and Josh Emmett (18-3) put on a show, resulting in Rodríguez submitting Emmett at 4:19 of the second round via triangle choke. Rodríguez became Mexico’s second-ever UFC champion and set up a highly anticipated fight against Volkanovski.

Rodríguez’s dynamic taekwondo and the sheer power Emmett brought to the octagon led to a modern-day gladiator fight. It was a kill-or-be-killed situation, leading to multi-knockdowns for both challengers. Rodríguez used his kicks like a boxer uses jabs, stabbing away at Emmett before finally submitting him in the second round.

Given that the featherweight division now has an interim champion, when do we get to see Rodríguez vs. Volkanovski for the title unification fight? If I had to guess, I’d say in June or July, at UFC 289 or 290. My way-too-early pick is Volkanovski via decision. I honestly can’t see anyone beating him at featherweight after his performance at UFC 284.

In the midst of a future champion?

Jack Della Maddalena improved to 14-2 with a flawless performance against veteran Randy Brown (16-5) in the welterweight fight. He knocked him down with ease, mounted him, and choked him out two minutes and 13 seconds into the first round, ending the debate on whether or not he’s ready for a step-up in competition.

Della Maddalena’s now riding a 14-fight win streak, making it hard to argue against him fighting a ranked opponent next. His excellent boxing, quick footwork, underrated grappling, and fantastic head movements make him a very tough opponent for anybody in the top 15.

Are we witnessing a future champion? I’m not sure just yet, but the 26-year-old definitely has a lot of potential.

Australia Shines

All in all, Perth was an excellent place to hold a UFC event. Australia-natives like Della Maddalena, Joshua Culibao, and Justin Tafa were greeted with open arms and had amazing showings. The crowd was ferocious and even though the beloved Volkanovski didn’t win, the fans were still graceful in defeat.

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The age-old issue of pay discrepancies in MMA

When you fight the best you’d expect to be paid the best, right?

Pay discrepancies for fighters in different MMA organizations are now larger than ever. UFC fighters want better pay and insurance.

The UFC is valued at $9-10 billion, whereas Bellator (seen by many as being the second-best MMA organization) is valued at roughly $17 million.

Given those numbers, you’d expect UFC fighters to be paid much higher, but that’s not the case.

Bellator’s fighter pay percentage was estimated at 44.7 per cent of their total revenue between 2010-16, whereas the UFC pays their fighters an average of 16-20 per cent. 

UFC prelim fighters in the lowest contract tier can make anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000 per fight, whereas ranked contenders can make up to $100,000. Champions qualify for a pay upgrade and can earn between $500,000 and $3 million.

On the other hand, Bellator’s top fighters make between $100,000 and $300,000 but given the size of the promotion, it makes sense. They also get the chance to compete in a divisional “Grand Prix” which can net the winner an additional $1 million payout. When a fighter leaves the UFC to go to Bellator (or another promotion), they get a substantial raise as these smaller promotions need elite talent to draw viewers.

Therefore, many high-profile free agents are now choosing to sign with promotions like Bellator and PFL due to the higher compensation. UFC vet turned Bellator fighter Corey Anderson mentioned on Twitter that “In 2 fights 6 months with Bellator, I’ve made double of what I did in 15 fights (11 wins 2 bonuses) 7 years with UFC.”

Pay discrepancy is becoming more of an issue for the UFC as more fighters are beginning to hold out for better pay.

We originally saw it with former champions like Demetrious Johnson, Jon Jones, Henry Cejudo, and now more recently, heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. The issue lies with the fact that UFC fighters are not unionized and are essentially independent contractors. This puts the fighters at a severe disadvantage when it comes to negotiating. Along with having little to no leverage, they’re just one wrong kick or punch away from a career-ending injury.

UFC president Dana White has always been very opinionated when it comes to fighter pay. He mentioned in an interview with GQ that it “will never change” while he’s in charge, effectively enraging a lot of people.

The UFC’s upper-echelon fighters do very well for themselves as they are compensated with pay-per-view points and lucrative brand deals, but it’s more difficult for prospects and veterans to have any financial stability.

“I think any professional would like to get paid more but it’s a running business,” said 13-year UFC veteran John Makdessi. “It’s very hard because of the unpredictability when you get hit. Fighting is not like any other sports that have security, like hockey players or football players. As a fighter, you don’t have any insurance or any pension.”

Although many fighters want to be paid more, they are still glad to be able to fight in MMA’s premier promotion.

“The UFC might not pay the most but they’re the most established and recognizable MMA company,” Makdessi said. “It’s a privilege for me to be associated with the UFC since 2010.”

Even with the traction gained through various MMA outlets like Bleacher Report, MMA Junkie, and Bloody Elbow, it seems unlikely that fighter pay will be on the rise in the UFC. Younger promotions such as the PFL, Bellator, ONE, and KSW are more likely to recruit fighters.

One thing is for sure though, you need to have an acute mind for business and seize opportunities whenever you can when it comes to MMA.

“We have to be responsible with our earnings and how we spend our money because you can’t fight forever,” said Makdessi. “Everyone knows that we live in a high-paced world, you need to have multiple sources of income.”

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A new contender emerges in the world of MMA

A new mixed martial arts promotion is looking to launch in 2023

News about a new professional fighting organization called the World Fight League (WFL), was first reported by renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani on Sept. 14.

“A number of influential industry individuals have come together to create a new MMA league that is structured more like the NBA/NHL/NFL rather than your typical MMA promotion,” said Helwani in his post on Substack

According to Helwani, the league will contain an athlete association that puts a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with 50/50 revenue share. Furthermore, the promotion would consist of guaranteed contracts, health insurance, career-ending insurance, and a pension plan.

“The new league is structured as a non-profit,” said Helwani on the Sept. 15 edition of “The MMA Hour,” a weekly show he hosts.

Helwani retrieved more information from his sources affiliated with the league, who currently remain anonymous, and wrote on Substack Sept. 17, revealing the promotion’s name while including an image of the WFL’s logo.

A lot of work and planning have been put into the promotion, as Helwani mentioned that “the WFL has been in the works since 2020 and the non-profit was established May 3, 2021.”

The team consists of those in a variety of different domains bringing their expertise together, including many current and former professional athletes from the NBA, NFL, and MMA. 

Experienced amateur fighter Blake Loxton shared his thoughts on the news surrounding the WFL.

“It sounds like it’s a matter of funding kind of thing and a matter of it catching on, I love it. I think it’s a great idea,” said Loxton in an interview on Zoom. 

Loxton is ranked 5th in the Montreal Fight League (MFL) bantamweight division, having last competed July 24, 2021 at MFL 19, getting a TKO victory in the first round.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is the first major MMA promotion where fighters individually compete in a season. Loxton thinks this will be a big deal in the world of MMA.

“No one’s ever done what they’re doing — as far as whether it means what they’re giving and offering, or even the way it’s structured,” Loxton said.

As accepting as the sport of MMA is, it’s also very unforgiving — anyone can get injured in the world of combat, no matter who they are.

Conor McGregor, the biggest name in MMA, suffered a devastating injury in his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July.

As a matter of fact, it is very rare for a fighter to go into a fight unscathed. Fighting takes a toll on the body, not to mention that training can get really intense, so the prospect of health insurance being offered by the WFL is game changing.

“I can only imagine if you don’t understand the game or have a proper manager, you basically take what they give you,” Loxton said.

Loxton added that organizations such as the UFC will probably assume the WFL will fail until more information comes out. Loxton himself, however, is optimistic about this new approach to MMA.

“I think that no matter what, they’re opening-up the doors for people to try new things. There’s no failing,” Loxton said.

“Hopefully they can see where the kinks go, get them quick, work them out, and then in five to eight years, it will hopefully have some stability to it.”

The WFL will have four conferences: North America, South America, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceania, with each conference having a minimum of eight teams and not exceeding 24. There will be 24 fighters per team, with three athletes in each weight division.

The sport has come a long way and seems to be constantly improving; this core-shaking news is certainly intriguing and enlightening. Can the WFL compete with the world’s biggest MMA promotions? Only time will tell.

For more information, visit “Helwani Nose” on Substack.

 

Graphic by James Fay

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What’s next for the UFC’s lightweight division?

The future of the UFC’s lightweight division following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement

When the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his title against a hungry and reformed Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October, the Russian superstar established himself as the promotion’s pound-for-pound king whilst cementing his place in the UFC record books.

The euphoria of the moment was short lived, however, as Nurmagomedov announced his retirement following a bittersweet victory in the octagon, having lost his father and life-long coach who died of COVID-19 complications at the age of 57 last July. At 32 years old and seemingly in his athletic prime, Nurmagomedov’s retirement would be questioned among fans and media for months.

Nurmagomedov and the UFC’s president Dana White finally took to social media nearly five months later on March 18, where they officially declared the lightweight king retired for good.

In the blink of an eye, the UFC’s destined 155-pound champion for years to come was abruptly out of the picture, transforming the entire UFC lightweight landscape as a result.

The lightweight show must go on

Shortly after the news broke, the UFC made headlines by booking a title bout for the newly-vacated lightweight belt between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. The matchup will serve as UFC 262’s main event, scheduled for May 15.

Chandler is currently ranked number four in the lightweight division, boasting a record of 22-5. He signed with the UFC in September 2020 after spending most of the decade in Bellator MMA as the promotion’s lightweight champion. Chandler made his anticipated promotional debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257, where he would win decisively by technical knockout in the opening round, firmly establishing his name in the 155-pound title conversation.

Meanwhile, Oliveira signed with the UFC in 2010 at 20-years-old and was widely regarded as a developing and promising star. Over a decade later, the Brazilian mixed martial artist has seemingly put everything together and ridden the success of a monumental eight-fight winning streak into his first UFC title shot.

Notable future UFC lightweight matchups

Dustin Poirier (1) vs. Conor McGregor (6) trilogy: Following their rematch on Jan. 24 that saw Poirier shock the world by brutally stopping McGregor in the second-round by technical knockout, Poirier was the clear-cut number one contender in the division. He eventually opted towards the trilogy bout with McGregor that will surely captivate the masses and garner all parties a hefty pay cheque.

It’s worth noting that while the fight is not yet officially booked, with the drama and hype built up around the two rivals, it’s only a matter of time until the final negotiations are set in stone.

Tony Ferguson (5) vs. Beneil Dariush (9): At 37-years-old, Ferguson has been among the top of the UFC’s lightweight division for over half a decade. Due to inconvenient circumstances, he never got the chance to fight for the undisputed lightweight title and has recently been on the receiving end of ruthless, drawn-out losses to Gaethje and Oliveira.

He will need to slow down a surging Dariush who has finished four of his last five opponents in the opening two rounds. Another loss to Ferguson’s resume would irrefutably spell the end of an era in the division.

Nurmagomedov’s retirement is disappointing to see for MMA fans, but one of the UFC’s most competitive divisions will endure and continue to produce outstanding fights with marketable stars headlining its bright future.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Conor McGregor comes out of retirement… again

McGregor will fight Dustin Poirier at the UFC 257 in January

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) superstar Conor McGregor will once again be back in the octagon after retiring for the third time in four years on June 7, 2020.

It seems to be becoming common for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight and lightweight champion to retire from the sport and come back less than a year later each time.

When the Irishman retired for the first time in April 2016, it only took three months before fans saw him back in action again. At that time, there was nothing special about McGregor coming out of retirement, especially for a rematch against another famous UFC fighter, Nate Diaz.

What makes McGregor’s case weird is that he retired again on March 25, 2019, but for just nine days. We’ll probably never know if that was planned, or if McGregor really wanted to retire at the moment, but an amazing fight opportunity came to him afterwards and he simply couldn’t turn it down. However, that third retirement announcement last June, once again followed by a comeback in the same year, makes it harder than ever to believe his announcements.

Having a superstar coming out of retirement for a big fight against another superstar always gets fans’ attention and often headlines the news until fight night. That’s especially true when you’re of McGregor’s caliber.

It therefore helps to increase UFC profits, including pay-per-view numbers, which are expected to be higher because of the excitement behind the athlete’s return. There’s reason, then, to wonder if McGregor has used retirement as a financial strategy in order to get more money from his latest fights.

McGregor was only 28 when he first retired in 2016, and his rematch against Diaz was greatly awaited by fans. Those elements make it hard to believe he really wanted to stop the competition at that time.

However, continuously retiring in order to come back won’t have the same effect every time. It will be interesting to see if he does it again after his fight against Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23, 2021.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Who’s the greatest fighter of all-time?

Comparing the illustrious careers of Khabib Nurmagomedov and George St-Pierre

UFC 254 was headlined by the highly anticipated unifying title bout between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0-0) and interim-title holder Justin Gaethje (22-3-0). While competitive matchups against the Eagle are tough to come by — as his undefeated record indicates — many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) enthusiasts predicted the contest would be Nurmagomedov’s most threatening challenge to date.

The undefeated fighter exerted his unmatched pressure early and often, eventually winning by way of submission due to a triangle choke in the second round. Nurmagomedov won the UFC championship belt after dominating an overwhelmed adversary once more.

However, the excitement was short-lived as a mentally-fatigued Nurmagomedov crumpled to the octagon canvas post-stoppage and ultimately proclaimed his retirement from the sport, vacating the belt and liberating the UFC lightweight division from pending onslaughts.

At the peak of his athletic prime and one-win shy of the fabled 30-0-0 record, the decision was nonetheless fathomable given the passing of his father earlier in the year. Nurmagomedov shared an immeasurably close relationship with his dad, who acted as his mentor in life and in sport.

The news rekindled the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate in MMA. Nurmagomedov already cemented his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters prior to his latest performance at UFC 254, but the conclusion of his storybook MMA career has drawn wildly differing sentiments as it pertains to his individual greatness.

While it’s impossible to distinguish a bonafide greatest, the discussion boils down to the now former UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov, active and former UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones (26-1-0), and the retired former UFC welterweight champion George St-Pierre (26-2-0).

Jones is currently at the peak of his supremacy at 33 years-old and can improve his claim at the throne in the coming years. His sole loss came by way of disqualification due to an illegal elbow he threw against an underqualified opponent in Matt Hamill that was seconds away from defeat.

In addition, Jones has 11 title defenses, and, despite having two separate title reigns at 205 pounds, he never lost the belt inside the octagon. His stacked resume includes victories over former champions and legends such as Cormier, Gustafsson, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Lyoto Machida.

Jones’ biggest challenges have come outside the octagon; a history of arrests and drug-related issues has damaged his reputation for some in what is otherwise an undeniably boundless MMA career.

St-Pierre’s longevity and consistency were unmatched in a sport where mistakes are common and a single slip-up can influence the trajectory of an entire career. As a result, he was the UFC welterweight champion for several years and his reign spanned multiple generations of 170 pound fighters.

As a combatant, the Montreal native could do everything. His early years were characterized by youthful energy and explosive finishes that resulted in dominant victories over staples in the sport such as Matt Serra and Matt Hughes. He was a masterful tactician in his prime years that was displayed through his historic run of consecutive rounds won (recently overtaken by Nurmagomedov).

He cemented his case for the GOAT when he returned from a four-year hiatus by moving up a weight class and challenging Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship. St-Pierre won by theatrical submission in the third round and became the fourth UFC fighter ever (at the time) to hold a belt at two different weights. Finally, his only losses were emphatically avenged, and his clean career slate removes most, if not all notions of doubt.

Nurmagomedov being listed amongst MMA immortals like Jones and St-Pierre is a testament to his sheer dominance. He defended his UFC title only three times, and yet, he tops many people’s lists.

The ability to “maul” his opponents and make title contenders look like amateurs is something that only a handful of fighters can do. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has never failed to assert his dominance. He’s never bled in the octagon, and he’s only lost two rounds on the judges’ scorecards in his entire career: once against Conor McGregor in 2018, and the other in his final bout with Gaethje. He proceeded to finish both opponents in the ensuing round.

Most importantly, much like St-Pierre, Nurmagomedov has been a role model and ambassador for the sport through his tenure. He meaningfully contributed to the popularization of MMA and the UFC into mainstream culture through masterful performances, opting to let his actions do the talking.

Nurmagomedov has openly pushed for a bout against his perceived greatest of all time St-Pierre in the past. The fight never materialized despite both parties expressing interest out of mutual respect, and Nurmagomedov’s recent surprise retirement has made the dream matchup unlikely to occur.

Regardless of who ranks higher on a largely subjective and unserviceable all-time UFC standing, both fighters boast unparalleled legacies that will surely stand the test of time.

 

Graphic by Carleen Loney

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Concordia student pursues career in mixed martial arts

Exercise science student Sean Michael Ahimon is training hard for a career in the UFC

Sean Michael Ahimon, a mixed martial arts fighter and Concordia University student, has been practicing one specific philosophy for most of his life.

“When you go [into the fighting ring], there is no blaming anyone else. If you mess up, it’s on you,” Ahimon said.

Ahimon, 18, started martial arts at the age of nine when his mom suggested he get into it because he was being bullied at school. Early on, he met Derek Watson—his instructor—who gave him a strong passion for martial arts. However, Ahimon said his instructor left only six months after he arrived, as Watson was unhappy with his superior’s choices when it came to running the school.

It was only during a taekwondo demonstration by Watson at Ahimon’s middle school that the two had the chance to meet again. Right after, Ahimon signed up at Watson’s school, Strive Martial Arts. This was a turning point for Ahimon and his art. He furthered his training and earned his black belt. He had his first competition during his first year of high school.

“It was nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what to expect. I remember watching a bunch of videos of taekwondo Olympians and trying to copy what they do,” Ahimon said. “When the fight started, I just went blank. I just remember spinning, spinning, spinning.”

On that day, Ahimon would dodge every kick and countered with roundhouse kicks—a semicircular kick that strikes the opponent with the front of the leg. Yet, as he executed a tornado kick—a roundhouse kick with a body rotation—he mistakenly landed on his kicking foot, performing a 540 tornado kick that directly hit his opponent. The kick got him the attention of 10 different martial arts schools, since it is rarely used for purposes other than displaying one’s abilities outside of fights.

From then on, Ahimon started taking taekwondo seriously. He started wrestling with his high school team and started kickboxing during his sophomore year. By the end of high school, Ahimon was the fifth-ranked wrestler in his home state of Maryland. During that time, he also fought three kickboxing fights and 70 taekwondo fights.

As he continued to participate in multiple competitions for different martial arts, Ahimon said he learned how to deal with the tension from competing. Nevertheless, Ahimon said he still feels nervous sometimes, but he thinks it’s a good thing—it creates an out-of-body experience that makes the fight more memorable, he said.

In terms of his fighting ability, reaching a higher level pushed him to be more conscious of his moves, since opponents at higher levels are better at countering. He said fighting is more of a strategy game for him now.

In April, Ahimon competed at the German Grand Prix in Hamburg with the US national taekwondo team. It was his first national tournament and the team lost by three points to Germany. After the competition, Ahimon said he wanted to move from competing in taekwondo to kickboxing, as he was tired of it.

When it comes to practice, Ahimon described it as fun, although the intensity has continued to increase.

“[There is] lots of kicking and I get tired fast,” Ahimon said. “But when you are tired, you still have to kick.”

Nowadays, Ahimon trains three hours a day, five days a week at Tristar gym, which is the same gym UFC fighter George St-Pierre trained at. When he trains, Ahimon switches between pad work, sweep drills, weight-lifting and cardio. Sometimes, he even gets to spar with other MMA fighters.

Ahimon does cardio in addition to his other exercises.

When reflecting on what made him want to pursue his dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter, Ahimon said it was all because of a fight he saw on TV.

“I always threw [dreams] out there when I was a little kid,” Ahimon said. “One day in seventh grade, I was thinking of extreme things I wanted to be, and I turned on the TV and UFC was the first thing that came on.”

The fight was between Chad Mendes and Rani Yahya. According to Ahimon, if it wasn’t for that fight, he probably wouldn’t be pursuing a career in MMA, and would never have gotten so invested in combat sports.

Ahimon is currently studying exercise science at Concordia, but his main goal is to switch into the journalism program. Writing articles in high school gave him the passion to want to pursue journalism.

“I like writing articles, specifically about sports and music. I like to break those things down,” Ahimon said.

Ahimon has been trying to adjust to life in Montreal, all while finding a healthy balance between his new training regimen, his schoolwork and his social life. He said it’s hard to find a happy medium. However, living in residence has allowed him to cut down transportation time and meet with friends easily. When it comes to school, he said his mindset is, if he completes his assignments properly and quickly, he will be able to compete more.

While talking about the difference between team sports and an individual sport like mixed martial arts, Ahimon said the feeling you get from both are different, as individual sports allow you to truly feel and see your strength. This is something he feels team sports lacks.

“When you play a team sport, you will never ever ever understand what it is to win a fight,” Ahimon said. In his opinion, in combat sports, “it is all your hard work that determines the outcome of the fight.” Ahimon added, with a team, on the other hand, one’s ability may be less decisive in competition.  “When you win, you physically controlled your own destiny, not your team,” he said.

Ahimon’s next fight is Dec. 3, although his opponent and the location of the fight are still unknown.

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