MMA the only way

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Agostino DeNatale loves everything about Muay Thai kickboxing.

Unfortunately for him, it doesn't help pay the bills in today's day and age . Kickboxing fight cards are as common as good heavyweight bouts in boxing.

That's why the 30-year-old Winnipegger, who followed his older brother Giuseppe into kickboxing, will make his mixed martial arts debut tomorrow night at the Convention Centre.

"I've always loved Muay Thai. I love watching Muay Thai. I love the Muay Thai art," Agostino said. "But everything's going towards MMA now, so it's time to switch your thoughts towards it. You don't want to be left behind.

"... You can keep doing the kickboxing. It's good for the prestige and the fun of it, but at the end of the day you have to make a dollar doing your sport. That's the reason why a lot of mainstream kickboxers are going to MMA."

DeNatale will meet Jesse Gross of London, Ont., on tomorrow night's Canadian Fighting Championship 3 card. CFC is Giuseppe DeNatale's top-level promotion, and Agostino joked that his older brother had to work hard to get him to fight.

"We've been hustling a deal for a while now," Agostino said with a laugh. "He finally met my price to get me in the ring."

DeNatale actually spent the last year getting his ground game up to snuff, because kickboxing skills will get you only so far in an MMA scrap.

Giuseppe DeNatale, who was a world champion kickboxer, believes his younger brother is one of the toughest fighters around. And he's not just saying that because he's his younger brother.

"We know he's going to make a huge dent in the 145-pound division," Giuseppe said. "He's going to make that dent with his fists, because that kid, pound for pound, hits harder than anybody that I train. My younger brother hits harder than some of my heavyweights.

"The kid has dynamite in his hands. He has knockout power with both hands, both feet, both knees. He has so many weapons. He'll put anybody to sleep with either hand."

Agostino said there isn't any extra pressure being Giuseppe's younger brother, but big brother said there will be a little something on the line tomorrow night.

"Absolutely there's pressure on him," Giuseppe said. "He's my younger brother, and he's my assistant instructor in the gym.

"We have hundreds of members here at Team Canada MMA and he's an instructor here, so yeah, there's lots of pressure on him. But he's taking it in stride."

Tomorrow night's main event will pit Winnipeg's Rodrigo Munduruca against former UFC fighter Dan (The Sandman) Christison of Albuquerque, N.M.

More than 2,000 tickets have already been sold for CFC 3, Giuseppe DeNatale said. The 11-fight card begins at 7 p.m., and legendary MMA referee (Big) John McCarthy will officiate some of the fights.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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