Mattawa's Justin 'King' Condie kicked off his pro MMA career with an exciting submission win in the third round against Justin Taveirne at the Prospect Fighting Championships in Windsor, June 15.
Condie, 30, who is heading to Thailand to train in August before considering opportunities for his second fight, proved that his efforts to improve his ground game the past couple years paid off in spades.
"It feels good, man, I put a lot of work into it," Condie said a few days later during a telephone interview after coaching a class at his Big Country gym in Lindsay, ON.
Taveirne, 34, was known as a grappler with one pro fight about a decade ago, so it was extra impressive to see Condie, a respect striker, escape and reverse positions several times during their lightweight fight.
With his hometown fans cheering him on, Taveirne suprised Condie with a solid start that saw him catch Condie with hard punches, including some scary elbows while held vulnerable in a cruxifix position. But the Mattawa scraper has a fighter's heart and managed to dig deep and turn the tables.
Prospects commentaters Kara Ro and Reed Duthie took note of Condie's tendancy to lower his left hand in a rythm that Taveirne could time well and connect straight right punches. They also saw that Taveirne was carrying his hands low as the fight clock ticked, providing Condie an opening for head kicks. (Follow Prospect Fighting Championships on Facebook HERE. view the Condie vs Taveirne fight HERE beginning at the 50-minute mark as the opening bout and see the website HERE).
With his Muay Thai foundation in place, Condie took advantage of the opportunity and found his mark with his left foot and staggered his opponent before leaping in with a flying right knee to the head. That's when Condie displayed his gorilla-like grappling speed for a decisive rear-naked choke.
"I was expecting him to try to take me down more but he seemed to want to stand and that threw me off," Condie said about his slow start, admitting he's got a bad habit of needing a few shots before turning it on.
"Once I was hit a couple times I knew I was in a fight ... I've always been a slow starter and that's something I have to change," he said.
As he was getting pummeled for too long in the second round, Condie admitted things looked bad when Taveirne had his right arm locked with his legs and left arm held to expose his head to elbows, forcing him to do a gut-check.
"I can't lie, the thought comes to mind to give up but I always go with option A and keep fighting," he said.
Back in 2016, Condie was licking his wounds after four consecutive amateur MMA losses despite having superior striking skills learned through Action School of Fitness and Arts in North Bay/Mattawa. He needed to shake things up and learn more about grappling, which led to his relocation to southern Ontario to learn from the MMA-focused Big Country crew.
"The whole reason I left Action was to pursue MMA. I knew if I wanted to have a shot I had to make the move and roll with top," Condie said, noting that the North Bay club has upped its game in that regard and is now called Action MMA with more ground-game expertise and a strong affiliation with Big Country and other MMA-trained coaches.
Condie said he wasn't sure how he'd do at the lower weight class. He shed almost 30 pounds of his "walking around" weight a year ago through disciplined nourishment, cardio-focussed training and mini-fasts schedules. Making weight at 154 pounds was a feat in itself considering he was 175 pounds stepping into the ring 24 hours later.
"I didn't know how I was going to perform at that weight. Cardio was a question and his (Taveirne's) hands were bettern than I thought, he's a really tough guy. I talked to him after and he's a really cool guy, I was happy and honoured to share the ring with him."
Condie thanked his corner crew in the post-fight interview at the centre of the cage.
"We're in here alone (during the fight) but it takes a team to build you," he said, naming Action's Corey Jackson and Big Country's Joe Elliot, Brad Dasilva and James Clarke.
He also had some words for those who doubted his abilities after not doing well in MMA at the amateur level. Condie said those who count him out, including some from his home community, are making a mistake. "I will crush you."
As he takes a week off to heal, Condie feels blessed.
"Everything seems to be coming together," he said after a long haul to this point. "I started as a teenager at 18 years old and I'm glad I stayed postive and focussed ... nothing happens overnight and I'm happy to see some stuff coming back my way and it was great having Corey there in my corner.
"I always told him (during their many hours on the road going to and coming back from fights) I'll never forget where I came from," he said, adding that any fighter in the North Bay area should consider Jackson as a coach because he'll get you on the path to making your dreams come true.
Condie also appreciates the birthday gift his girlfriend Brittany coordinated with a private group fundraising drive amongs his supporters that put together the nearly $3,000 it will take to learn more about fighting in Thailand.
"I figure I have about five or seven years left in my fighting career and I want to make the right moves," he said when asked where he'd like to fight next. "There's a couple offers on the table to consider after I get back from Thailand. I like to focus on one thing at a time."
Click HERE to see Condie in action preparing for his at the Ground Games in Sudbury April 6.
Jackson said Condie's fight was epic.
"That was emotional, that was classic," he said, describing how his corner was electrified every second. "You were in the cage with him."
It was also nerve-racking, his friend and striking coach said.
"It was scary a bit for us too at the beginning," Jackson said, describing specifically their concern when Condie was getting hit while stretched out in the cruxification position in the second round.
"But when he got out of that and got on top, we knew he was into it and knew he's in a war now."
Before the third round, Condie's coaches reminded him he's the established striker and shouldn'te be the one getting beaten to the punch. Jackson they told him to go for the head kick because Condie had already set it up by kicking low legs and side body with Tavierne bracing to protect low and leaving himself open high.
"Then he followed with a flying switch knee and then transitioned to his back," Jackson said, still excited days later.
Back to his coaching voice, he said: "He's going to learn a lot from that one."
Jackson said Condie has "always bobbed taht lead hand and now he has to be tighter or have more movement and stay on his toes" because there's more options for both defence and offence while moving.
Next up for Action MMA fighters is a July 13 Muay Thai fight in Peterborough with Michael Asifoo on the card for the Kawartha Combat event. There's no Quest for the Voyageur Belt in Mattawa this summer after holding six of them over seven years. On Aug. 9, North Bay's Josh Beaton is in Toronto taking on a top Ontario fighter in the open class at the Cold Warz Mauy Thai Open.