March 22, 2012
Stamps grapple with UFC dreams
By Ian Busby, qMI Agency
All it took was a few minutes on a mat with some pros for Corey Mace to realize he will never become a two-sport athlete.
After getting an MMA tutorial from the likes of Nick Ring and Jason MacDonald, the Calgary Stampeders defensive tackle is sticking with his day-job.
Still, the 6-foot-3, 287-pounder had a great deal of fun during his half-hour workout Thursday at BDB Martial Arts in northeast Calgary.
Just don’t pencil him down for a debut at UFC 149 at the Saddledome July 21.
“There’s not even a weight class for a guy my size,” Mace said. “If there was, I would probably get destroyed in there. There’s no question about it.
“I would love to work out doing it, but as for getting in there for real, there’s no chance. I wear a helmet for a reason.”
With UFC fever sweeping Calgary — after Wednesday’s announcement of UFC149 — Mace and teammate Eric Fraser got a chance for ‘hands-on’ training from some competitors who have spent time in the octagon.
The football players train specifically for their sport, and it came as a bit of a shock how different MMA is from their full-contact sport.
MacDonald, who operates a gym in Red Deer and is a veteran UFC competitor, feels their skills could easily translate though. He was impressed at how quickly the Stamps players figured out what he was teaching.
“People see MMA on TV and think they can do it,” MacDonald said. “They come into a gym, and it takes a half-hour on the mat to realize it takes a long time to get good at these skills.
“These guys are great athletes. Any athletes from any sport are coachable. You have to be in this sport. With a bit of training, these guys could be fantastic fighters. Any pro athlete has proven they have the physical attributes and the coachability to be great.”
At 37, MacDonald’s fighting career is winding down. A bout with Tom Lawlor May 15 in Fairfax, Va., was supposed to be his final one, but now that the UFC is coming to Calgary, he’s likely going to be on that card — or at least, he hopes so.
“I’ve been fighting a long time,” MacDonald said. “I’ve had a great career, and I’ve travelled all over the world. I’ve met people all over and done things I would have never done, but my best days as a fighter are behind me.”
Fraser was a fan of the UFC before getting a chance to work-out with competitors, but he’s not thinking about a side career either.
The Stamps safety did gain a new perspective of how tough it is to get on the mat and grapple.
“After doing this and seeing how skilled the guys are, it’s a whole other level,” Fraser said.
“I thought I was a strong guy and I could be able to wrestle and roll around. It’s a clearly different game.
“And I don’t like getting punched in the face too much.”
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby