Farmer has fighting chance

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Craig "Farmer" Brown has an interesting hobby.

He trains sometimes three times a day for up to five hours -- in addition to his job with the Ontario government and the demands of a wife and two kids -- so he can climb into a ring and get physically abused by another 200-plus lb. man.

Hopefully, he abuses more than he is abused.

Brown, the 30-year-old from Kemptville, will put his 3-0 mixed martial arts record on the line Saturday at King of the Cage: Freedom Fight at the Baribeau Arena in Gatineau.

Brown's bout for the KOTC light heavyweight title will be the headliner against Travis "The Gladiator" Galbraith, the reigning champ who is coming off his debut at PRIDE fighting's USA debut show, The Real Deal.

Brown, who has a big following in the Ottawa Valley, has been a regular at the annual Freedom Fight shows and immediately won fans when he knocked out favourite Ricardeau Francois in his debut in 2005.

His nickname speaks to his appeal in the area.

THROWING BALES OF HAY

"I'm not a guy who does a lot of weight training," said Brown. "I was just a big, strong farm kid from throwing bales of hay and working on the farm."

He followed up that first win with a TKO victory over American John Clark last year.

Brown took his dad to an MMA card a few years ago for Father's Day and sat there thinking, "this is something I want to try.

"My father thought it was the worst idea in the world," said Brown after a recent workout. "I had no martial arts training. I was a rugby and hockey guy, skiing and snowboarding."

Since then, he been has been training, learning and developing, working out over a gas station on Scott St. at F.I.T. MMA, a new gym run by friend Jason Motard.

He fights once a year, at Freedom Fight.

Why?

What's the appeal?

"The best way to describe it is to compare it to a trumpet player. You know how trumpet players have that muzzle on the end? Imagine if you were a trumpet player and you never got to take that muzzle off. Imagine if you never got a chance to play to that trumpet to its full ability," said Brown.

"Then somebody comes along and says to you, 'I'm going to give you a forum to play that trumpet with no muzzle, to play it as loud as you want, play it to its full capacity.'

"That's MMA to me. A forum to push yourself to your full ability. No pads. You get to test your ability to its fullest."

Brown gets his workouts in while juggling his job and being a family man for wife Carrie-Anne, son Lochlan (23 months) and new daughter Logan, just four months.

He said he thinks he's representative of a lot of the fighters being attracted to MMA.

"It's not just a bunch of meatheads. A lot of these guys have good, important jobs and a balance (in their lives)," he said. "It's not guys who have been out drinking in a bar who fight in the street and want to get in the ring and show how tough they are. We're highly trained."

Brown said he likes what he sees happening with mixed martial arts now. Its following is growing, boosted by its visibility on TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and The Score.

Brown said he's going to continue with his "hobby," for a few years yet and sees himself staying involved in MMA.

"At a certain time I'd like to switch to the mentor side," he said. "That's definitely something I'd like to do. I'd like to help other people become fighters and help them progress as a mentor."

Until then, Brown's popularity with his fans through The Valley will grow with another win next weekend.

'FOCUSED'

"I've never seen him as focused as he is right now or in better shape," said Peter Rodley, one of the show's promoters.

"He told me he's going to be wearing that belt. He told me he's going to be going to buy lumber with that belt around his waist."

In addition to the Brown-Galbraith headliner, the card will see Mark Bocek, touted as the first Canadian-born Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, looking to make some noise in the 155-lb. class against Matt "Sunshine" Fiordirosa, who is riding a five-match winning streak.

Also on the undercard, Petawawa's Tony "The Terminator" Legnaro, a member of the Canadian military, will face the flamboyant Barry "Mackdaddy Flexx" McDonald in the 155-lb. category.

Tickets are available through ticketmaster.ca.


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