Maurer an Ultimate Esk

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Mike Maurer could have gone to Disneyland following the Edmonton Eskimos Grey Cup triumph.

It would have been the trendy thing to do.

He could have gone somewhere warm, basked in the glow of a job well done and sipped on an umbrella drink.

Instead, the 30-year-old fullback, named top Canadian at the CFL championship game in November, returned to Regina to work on his martial arts skills. It what he's done every off-season for the past four years.

This time, however, Maurer is putting those martial arts skills to the test.

On March 10th, the Edmonton Eskimo is taking part in the Maximum Fighting Championship, No Excuses event, at the Shaw Conference centre.

It'll be Maurer's first fight.

"I've watched UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) from the beginning and was always a fan," Maurer said. "In Regina I was looking for something to do. As I picked up some ju-jitsu, I watched every event and you gain a greater appreciation for it."

The toughest part may have been convincing his employer to let him take part.

The last thing the Eskimos want to see is one of their players get hurt - especially off the football field.

Yet Maurer was determined to get in the ring.

"It's a relatively safe sport," Maurer said. "If someone gets you in a hold or whatever, you just have to know when to tap out before you get hurt. Like I told the Eskimos, the greatest risk I feel is breaking a bone in your hand."

Regardless, the team needed some convincing. Actually a lot of convincing.

"They had to warm up to it. Initially they were pretty concerned," Maurer said. "That's just from the lack of knowledge about the sport. They weren't really sure of the rules, and they thought it was pretty barbaric. But as I explained the rules to them and the safety precautions that take place every match, they became more comfortable with it."

Yesterday Maurer was in town demonstrating his fighting techniques at a promotional event for the fight card.

He'll be taking on Darren Apels of B.C. in his debut.

"Mike is not going into this fight thinking he's going to get hurt," said event promoter Mark Pavelich. "He's thinking that he's going to bust somebody up. Everyone asks the same question. But the last thing people in this sport worry about is getting knocked out or submitted. They think about doing that to somebody else."

Regardless, Pavelich did take into consideration this would be Maurer's first fight and tried to find a suitable opponent for the fullback.

"In September he (Apels) knocked out a 300-pound guy," Pavelich said. "I thought it would be fair to put him, who's only had one fight with Mike, who hasn't had any. I thought it would be a fair fight. But after watching Mike just train right now, I don't think (Apels) has a chance."


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