Mikey likes it!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos can now take a deep, relaxing breath.

And Mike Maurer can now brag to his teammates for the rest of the year after the Green and Gold fullback emerged victorious and unscathed from his first-ever mixed-martial arts fight last night at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Maurer repeatedly pounded Darren Apels with right blows to the head before Apels asked the referee to stop the fight just 1:38 into the first round of the light-heavyweight bout on the Maximum Fighting Championship IX card.

"I'm glad (Maurer) didn't get hurt because obviously it would have hurt (our team)," said a relieved Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia, who received ringside updates while on his cell phone.

From the moment Maurer agreed to the fight last fall the Eskimo organization was worried.

Although the veteran CFLer tried to convince Maciocia that he was safer in the ring than on the football field, the nerves never disappeared for his coach.

And just days before the fight, Apels spouted at the mouth, promising to "break (Maurer's) face" and claiming the 2005 Grey Cup Most Outstanding Canadian was putting his football career on the line by stepping into the ring.

But Maurer was never in real danger yesterday, popping Apels just seconds into the scrap and taking him to the mat within the first 10 seconds.

And for all intents and purposes, the fight was over then, as Maurer didn't let Apels get back to his feet, bashing his midsection with knee blows before pounding him into submission with right hands.

"I'm pretty happy," said Maurer after the scrap.

"I would have liked to look sharper but I have to be a realist; that was my first fight."

He definitely impressed Apels, who fled the ring within seconds of tapping the mat for mercy.

"That guy is a tank," said Apels.

Banned from playing Canadian college basketball for brawling with the UBC Thunderbirds last year, Apels had a significant reach advantage at six-feet-eight but wasn't able to land a single blow.

"I probably got more hurt training for this fight than I did (last night)," continued Maurer.

The result left his Eskimo teammates thrilled.

"That's awesome," exclaimed Mathieu Bertrand, who was one of nearly 20 Eskimos scattered throughout the building.

"I knew it."

But next to Maurer, the happiest and most relieved person in the house last night might have been his wife Hayley.

"Check that out," she almost shouted from her seat just feet from the ring after Maurer had been declared victorious.

"He's not even sweating."

In the days before the fight, Apels put on a trash-talking clinic, but in hindsight, that actually helped his opponent.

"That motivated him more," said Hayley. "Before (the trash talking) Mike said he just wanted to win, but then he changed and wanted to dominate him."

Maurer will step into the ring for another fight on April 1 in Regina, but it's an amateur bout.

The 30-year-old Regina product wants another professional fight, but it won't be until at least next off-season.


Videos

Photos