'El Dirte' dishes dirt

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

Every Monday, a Winnipeg Sun staffer will get to know a local sports figure a little better in Up Close. In this week's instalment, Kirk Penton steps into the cage with Winnipeg mixed martial artist Joe (El Dirte) Doerksen, who will fight fellow Canadian Jason MacDonald on Saturday's UFC 83 card at Montreal's Bell Centre.

The Sun: How does a guy from New Bothwell, Manitoba, end up on the UFC stage?

Doerksen: Almost by accident. I started fighting just to answer some personal questions I had about myself. How would I react in a certain situation? How would I do in a fight? So the most logical way to answer that question is to go fight. I did it once, and then I had to do it again, and I had to do it again. All of a sudden it's been nine years, 50 fights and fighting in the UFC. That's kinda cool.

The Sun: Can you do this for a living yet?

Doerksen: Yes, for almost two years now this has been my full-time job.

The Sun: That's pretty cool that this is your job.

Doerksen: It's pretty neat. but it's still a job. I still have to be in the gym every day, and I have to behave myself. But it's a fun job. This is what I used to do after work. Now I get to do it for week, so I feel pretty lucky.

The Sun: What song has to be played just before you step into the cage?

Doerksen: I don't ever pick my own music.

The Sun: What about when you're sitting in your dressing room?

Doerksen: I just sit around. There's not usually music playing. We just hang out.

The Sun: What TV show can't you miss?

Doerksen: I don't have cable right now, so there's nothing I can't miss.

The Sun: What do your parents, Ed and Tina, think about your profession? Do they watch?

Doerksen: My dad watches. My dad absolutely loves it. You can tell. My mom doesn't really want her son to be a fighter, but at the same time she's very supportive. My mom doesn't like watching me fight, but the last time I fought Jason MacDonald was 21/2 years ago and I lost here in Winnipeg, in my hometown, in front of my friends and family. And I was kind of down for a couple days, and I had suggested that night that I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue fighting. And my mother, who would like nothing better than to see me quit, called me up and said, 'Joe, now is not the time to quit. You have to keep going.' So here I am, 21/2 later, fighting the guy again. I don't think I'd be the person I am today without my parents. They've just been great. They're good people and good role models. That's probably why I don't beat people up in the bar every weekend.

The Sun: Favourite junk food?

Doerksen: Oh man, I could give you a list.

The Sun: Pick just one.

Doerksen: I'm going to say burgers. I like burgers.

The Sun: Is that the worst part of training, not being able to pig out?

Doerksen: Yep. I like beer, too. Not being able to drink beer three days a week, that sucks. I like beer.

The Sun: What's the dating scene like for a single guy on the UFC?

Doerksen: You can't date a girl who wants to hang out with you because she saw you on TV. That's not going to be a healthy relationship, so it's not really a perk because that's a dead-end road. It's nice to be recognized, it's nice to get that kind of attention, but at the end of the day if you're a mature, healthy adult and looking for a mature, healthy relationship, that's not where you're going to look. You don't want to be dating a fan. Don't get me wrong, when a young girl's making googly eyes at you and smiling at you, it's a nice compliment, but you gotta kind of take it for what it's worth. She thinks I'm a big deal because she saw me on TV. She's wrong. I'm not that big a deal.


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