Brendan Mooney might be making his amateur mixed martial arts debut next week, but don’t expect him to be angry with his opponent.
That’s a common misconception, he says.
“When the sport first came out, it was two guys in the cage slugging it out,” he says. “It’s not like that. We’re out there using our skills to see which one is better. It’s not about hurting each other, it’s about competing.
“You don’t have to hate the person. You can fight your best friend. It’s about competing.”
The 20-year-old Prince Albert man is part of the Hard Knocks Fighting Championship card at the Art Hauser Centre on July 19.
The longtime hockey player took up the sport a couple of years ago at LDP Martial Arts.
“When I first started here there was only four or five of us,” Mooney remembers. “As the years went on, there’s hardly any room on the mats anymore.”
Even with his sports background, the intensity of the workouts was a surprise.
“I don’t remember leaving the rink half as tired as I am leaving after one class of kickboxing,” he says. “It’s a big difference.”
The taxing workouts quickly turned in to a big part of his life.
“When I’m home the first thing I do is turn on the Fight Network,” he says. “I don’t even just watch MMA. I’ll watch karate, kickboxing, boxing … it’s all fun for me. As long as it has something to add to my game, I enjoy watching it.”
Mooney’s head instructor, Lucian Phillips, is impressed with his 20-year-old protégé.
“He’s got lots of talent and he’s a fast learner,” Phillips says of Mooney. “He’s a really good striker.”
Mooney agrees with the last part.
“I like to punch,” Mooney says about what he brings to the cage. “I’ve worked hard on my striking but I guess ju jitsu too.”
The School of Hard Knocks 26 amateur show starts at 7 p.m. on July 19, with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for children, $46.50 for general admission and $155 for an advance VIP reserved seat.
The 17 scheduled bouts include three rounds of three minutes each.
Mooney admits with a chuckle that he’s a little nervous about his bout with Winnipeg’s Brad Lammy, who will also be making his debut.
“It’s nerve-wracking considering the fact that I’m the type that doesn’t like to lose at all, even in a card game.”