Tales from The Godfather: Justin Bruckmann Pt. 2
SpinningBackFist got together with somewhat of a local legend recently for a
discussion on nearly everything MMA. We covered so much in fact, that we’re going
to split this one into multiple stories. Stick with us, as we tell you what we
heard from the man who serves as The Godfather of MMA in our part of Ontario.
Where we left off…
Despite the setback to Georges St-Pierre, Justin Bruckmann’s career continued on with a drop to the lightweight division (his profile on Sherdog’s Fighter Finder was a dead giveaway). Bruckmann compiled a solid 3-1 record, the lone blemish coming at the hands of Blake “The Snake” Fredrickson, by the ever-elusive toe hold submission, no less. Bruckmann finished his career with a victory over Yoichi “Yo” Fukumoto, who believe it or not, is still fighting as recently as…uhh…October 16th in Japan.
Despite the win, a lifetime spent in martial arts left Bruckmann in an awkward position. Mentally, the fire was still there to compete. Physically however, the years-upon-years of beatings in the gym had accumulated to a tipping point. The contrast between competing in the cage, compared to the gym, is no more evident than Bruckmann’s blunt statement that,
“As far as fighting goes, I’ve never been hurt too badly. Everything happens in the gym. A lot of it was from judo…you’re getting dropped on your head.“
This led us to a discussion that we’ve had here on SBF (not to be confused with SBG) a few times, and one that our feature writer Simon covered back in June. Training styles have been under scrutiny the last few years, as fighters now ponder the balance between sparring/technique more than ever before. Our fountain of knowledge, Bruckmann, hit the nail right on the head, “everyone is going to tell you something different.” While a simple statement, it couldn’t be more accurate. With his athletes at Bruckmann Martial Arts, “The Godfather” says, “you can go hard with BJJ all the time. Kickboxing it’s all technique, all day long – pad work, bag work. We spar once a week, and as we get closer to fights we’ll schedule the right guys [to work together].”
With the recent issues Rashad Evans has had being medically cleared to fight, fans have started to wonder more about the long-term health of the sports stars. While it’s being relatively downplayed by Evans himself, Bruckmann believes that we are, “going to see CTE in MMA fighters, like football. No one is really paying attention yet, because there isn’t as much money involved…[and unfortunately] no one cares.”
While it would be nice to be able to disagree with Bruckmann, he isn’t wrong. The money in MMA is not yet there as the sports biggest star (Conor McGregor of course) is making about as much as a lesser known boxer. We can all tragically expect that MMA section on the CTE Wikipedia entry to become a bit larger in the next few years, so let’s hope that fighter pay starts rising.
With the aforementioned UFC 206 from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto approaching quickly, we also thought it’d be worth chatting with Bruckmann about the MMA situation in the land formerly known as the mecca of MMA. To say Bruckmann was a fan of the Ontario Athletics Commission would be to put it lightly, as he described Commissioner Ken Hiyashi as, “unreasonable, hard to deal with [and] a s***** person.” Because of this, it was no surprise when Bruckmann said Ontario has, “the worst MMA scene in the f****** world.”
According to Bruckmann, the provincial commission, “doesn’t license [and] makes it impossible to hold events here,” citing a $50,000 licensing fee that makes it near impossible for any promotion (aside from the UFC) to get off the ground here, as any such potential company is going to see a loss every time. Perhaps when Mr. Hiyashi moves on, the Ontario MMA scene will experience a second wind.