Eskimo not fazed by trash talk

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Mike Maurer isn't buying what Darren Apels is selling.

For the last two days Apels has been trash-talking, claiming Maurer will put his football career with the Edmonton Eskimos on the line tomorrow in the ring and will suffer a major beating in his first-ever mixed-martial arts scrap.

But Maurer isn't fazed by his opponent's colourful mouth.

"It's water rolling off a duck's back (to me)," said Maurer.

"A lot of fighters will say (things like) that and they're either trying to promote the fight or trying to mask the fact that they're a little bit scared or nervous.

"I have no predictions and (there will be) no calling out (my opponent)."

It's just one of many examples of how these two fighters are radically different.

About the only thing they really have in common is the fact they will battle in the ring tomorrow night at the Shaw Conference Centre as part of the Maximum Fighting Championship IX card.

In fact, the differences between Maurer and Apels are almost comical.

Maurer is a professional athlete and the reigning Grey Cup Most Outstanding Canadian with a football coach who has been worried for weeks.

"Mike keeps telling me that he's safer in the ring than on the football field," said Eskimo coach Danny Maciocia, "but that's one I struggle with."

For the record, Maurer still vehemently denies he's putting his football career in jeopardy.

"You just don't see guys blowing knees or ankles in mixed-martial arts. You don't see career-ending injuries," he stated yesterday.

KICKED OUT OF BASKETBALL

Apels had a Canadian college basketball coach last year, but then lost any opportunity to keep playing university ball when he snapped on the court.

"One guy hit my brother and he got knocked out," said Apels, recalling the game last season between his Okanagan College team and UBC.

"So, I went into the middle of the court and started pounding him and all of his teammates came and I started kicking the (tar) out of them.

"And then I got kicked out."

And then he was handed a suspension he's still serving, which is why he's turned to the fight game.

The lanky six-foot-eight B.C. native -- nicknamed Big Nasty -- does have one mixed-martial arts scrap to his credit, which is more than Maurer.

But the Eskimo fullback has a considerable edge in training, including four years of martial arts study in the off-season and three years of high school wrestling experience.

Apels -- on the other hand -- has been learning the sport for only four months. Compounding that issue is the fact the Kelowna native is being required to drop nearly 40 pounds to make the 205-pound weight limit.

TEN POUNDS TO LOSE

As of yesterday afternoon, Apels still had 10 pounds to lose in about 48 hours.

"Maurer wants to fight in the light-heavyweight class and not be a man," cracked Apels, who wants to fight in the heavyweight division.

"The running and eating healthy (has) almost drove me into the loonie bin.

"I've cried every night because I miss my beer."

Maurer has no such problems making the weight.

"I'm not stressing like he is," quipped the nine-year CFL veteran.

All of the differences have made Maurer the favourite to win his fight debut.

"He's a professional athlete, so I'm sure he's in good condition and mentally prepared to fight," said MFC veteran Jason MacDonald.

"I would say Mike will be victorious."

FINISH LINES: Maciocia can't attend the fight, but will be receiving ringside updates via cellphone.


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