Cage Wars with brains

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Being university educated is not a prerequisite for mixed martial arts, but it's not necessarily a deterrent either.

In fact, it's probably just another sign of the growth in popularity the blossoming sport, which will be on display tonight at the Winnipeg Convention Centre as the Ultimate Cage Wars holds its September to Remember card, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Anchoring the main event are a pair of local fighters, 22-year-old up-and-comer Lindsey Hawkes (2-1) and 30-year-old Kevin Manderson (11-9-1).

Manderson, who grew up in Moncton but has called Winnipeg home since 1999, is a former CIS champion wrestler who has a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Manitoba and is working on a second degree in human resource management.

He said nerves would not be a factor when the bell rings.

"I don't psych myself out or anything like that," said Manderson. "I've been in the main event a couple of times, but never in Winnipeg. I just really enjoy the competition."

Hawkes has his degree in kiniesiology from the University of Winnipeg and works at Fitness Experience but doesn't plan on giving up his dream anytime soon. "I'm going to fight until I can't walk and then I'll quit," said Hawkes, who grew up in East Kildonan and now lives in West Kildonan. "I see fighting like a chess game."

As a slow starter, Hawkes uses an interesting method to prepare for his battles."Some guys have trouble calming themselves down, but I have to amp myself up. I usually have a song to get me pumped up and then I get someone from my corner to give me a couple of slaps," said Hawkes. "I might not have as much experience as a pro, but I've been doing martial arts since I was 13. He might outwrestle me but he won't


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