Braidwood wants to get into the ring

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:55 AM ET

It's no secret that Adam Braidwood loves to punish quarterbacks.

But the Edmonton Eskimos' prize No. 1 overall pick in the CFL college draft also wants to pound opponents inside the ring.

And he has now been given that chance.

Braidwood has officially been offered his first professional mixed martial arts fight.

Mark Pavelich - the president of the Maximum Fighting Championship - wants the defensive end to step in the ring at the Shaw Conference Centre in February.

"I think that would be awesome," said Braidwood yesterday. "If I finish the (football) season healthy and have a chance to get in the gym, I would definitely be ready to fight."

While a formal deal hasn't been signed yet, Pavelich is already salivating at the idea of promoting the fight. Pavelich packed the Shaw Conference Centre earlier this year for a fight involving Eskimo fullback Mike Maurer.

PASSION FOR MARTIAL ARTS

"Could you imagine having Maurer and Braidwood on the same card?" blurted Pavelich.

"It would be another monster sellout."

Braidwood has had a burning passion for MMA fighting for years.

"I have watched since I was a little kid and I have always kind of been into martial arts," said the 21-year-old B.C. native. "And I had a chance to meet a (Vancouver-based) trainer ... and he let me come into the gym and I fell in love with it."

His trainer is Lance Gibson, one of the top MMA minds on the west coast of North America.

A former member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship circuit, Gibson actually believes that if Braidwood wasn't involved in football, he could be on the incredibly lucrative and popular UFC stage within a year.

That kind of potential and Braidwood's massive frame - six-foot-four, 270 pounds - has Pavelich believing it will take a long and hard search to find a brave enough opponent.

"Braidwood is in a camp of very serious fighters (in Vancouver in the off-season). It's one of the most hardcore camps in the country. It is not like Braidwood went and joined the local YMCA."

Understandably, the Eskimos aren't wild about the idea of players fighting in the off-season because of the risk of injury.

But Braidwood isn't remotely worried about getting hurt.

TOUGH START

"If I didn't want to get injured I probably wouldn't drive a car every day," he quipped.

However, at the moment, his main focus is trying to find a spot on the Eskimo defensive line.

After a rough beginning to training camp this week, he has started to excel.

"The first couple of days were definitely real tough because I was having trouble picking up the plays and they were bouncing me around a lot," said the Washington State product.

"But it's starting to come together and some of the older guys have taken me under their wing and shown me the ropes. I felt a lot better (yesterday)."

And head coach Danny Maciocia is feeling good about his highly touted draft choice.

"He is a tough son of a gun," said the coach.

"Everything you ask him to do he'll do."


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