Kulka comes out swinging

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Everybody knows a 44-year-old ex-athlete just can't push himself away from a desk and -- after only seven months of schooling in an extremely technical sport -- climb into the octagon to fight a mixed martial arts super heavyweight, right?

Like, he just can't.

"As soon as people say that," responds Glenn Kulka, "it's usually when I do something."

And so it is that the former Ottawa Rough Rider fan favourite, turned wrestler, turned radio talk show host will make his MMA debut on the Freedom Fights Title Quest card against Wayne "X-Man" Xilon tomorrow at the Robert Guertin Arena.

In preparing to square off with the 5-foot-10, 285-lb. X-Man, who is 1-1 as a pro, the "Kulkster" has "leaned up" his 6-foot-2 frame and now tips the scales at a ripped 260 lbs.

It was the desire to get back into shape that led him to this age defying endeavour.

"It's about refocusing," said Kulka, who readily admits to missing the feel of a competitive fire that burned through his 11 years of pro football and a brief forray into wrestling that ended in 2000. "I was getting a little sloppy around the midsection and I started training to get in shape. I became intrigued by the training involved (in MMA) ... people think I'm jumping into this with a strong chin and being in decent shape, but I've been putting a lot into it."

Spending a lot of time on the weights is nothing new for Kulka, who once held the North American pro football bench press record by hoisting 225 lbs. for 53 reps. He remembers his dad buying him a membership at a Nautilus gym when he was 14. But what he's been doing since January is different. Kulka has been training in Merrickville with Brent Beauparlant of the International Fight League, as well as with Team Bushido's Nabil "The Thrill" Khatib at the MMA Fitness Centre.

All told, he puts in two hours a day, six days a week.

"Striking, grappling, submission moves, submission defence, pool work ... my tendons were screaming," Kulka said, touching on his regimen. "I've had trouble keeping weight on, there's so much cardio work. Everything is geared toward five-minute rounds, with one minute rest in between."

How many of those rounds he has in him is the question. There are some in the MMA community who say Kulka is making a mockery of the sport by stepping into the octagon with limited training. At the same time, nobody has ever questioned the man's toughness.

"What, he's going to be stronger than me?," Kulka said of X-Man. "He's going to bull rush me? He's going to do something I haven't seen 1,000 times before? I've never been knocked out in my life. I'll be ready. Expect the unexpected, that's what they've been telling me."

Kulka is proceeding with the support of his wife, Mariko, and kids -- six-year-old Laura Faith and four-year-old son Jaxson. Both of the children have their yellow belts in karate.

"They're good with it ... although I'm sure they don't fully grasp what I'm doing," Kulka said.

"Nobody's really been seriously hurt in MMA. You might see a lot of blood and stitches, but who gives a (crap). My wife has seen me fight before. She knows when I'm committed to training, I put myself in position to be successful. To say she's not concerned, I'd be lying my ass off. But she knows I've trained, and I'm committed."

Kulka's presence is sure to attract an even larger crowd than usual for Pete Rodley, owner of the very popular Freedom Fight circuit. But Kulka is making no promises he'll be back for an encore.

"We'll take this one on and see how it goes," said Kulka, who will have friends and family travelling in from as far away as Alberta for the fight. "There will be a pretty good contingent of Kulkamaniacs in the crowd.

"If I can get 3-5 fights out of this body, great. I'll let everyone know that just because you're 40-plus, life does not stop. If you focus on something and really set your mind to it, you can get it done."

FREEDOM FIGHT

TOMORROW, 7 P.M.

ROBERT GUERTIN

Jason Motard vs. Stejphan Vujnovic

Mark Holst vs. Kris Donaldson

Andre Desrociers vs. Ilya Woronowski

Robin Black vs. Chris Myra

Wayne Xilon vs. Glenn Kulka

Ian Dawe vs. Scott Hammond

Stephan Lamarche vs. Markhaile Wedderburn

Joey Ayres vs. Clint Martin

Nick Portieous vs. Rob Tracey

Louis Phillip Carlos vs. Chris Hulme

Stephane Bernadel vs. Mike Walton


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