MMA fighter Manderson pins hopes on wrestling skills

Wollongong MMA fighter Kevin Manderson is confident his well-honed wrestling skills will give him a real edge in this month's Brace MMA Series semi-final bout in Canberra.

A former national wrestling champion in Canada, Manderson is drawn to fight Sydney-based Abel Brites in the lightweight division.

"I've seen him fight a couple of times and he's got lots of game, decent striking and decent off his back, but I think where I'll definitely beat him is the wrestling," Manderson said.

"It's a massive advantage, especially here in Australia where it isn't a popular sport. It certainly gives me a bit of an edge. I still have to beat their hands and knees to get in there and take them down, but once I'm in there it's definitely a bit more of a weapon."

Standing 1.75 metres, Manderson's fighting weight is 70.3 kilograms.

The winner of the May 17 semi-final clash will progress to the championship bout in October.

Wollongong's Kevin Manderson is positive about his chances as he prepares for this month's Brace MMA semi-final bout. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Wollongong's Kevin Manderson is positive about his chances as he prepares for this month's Brace MMA semi-final bout. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Manderson converted to MMA in 2002 and believes he continues to evolve as a fighter.

"I'm a pretty competitive guy and, after wrestling for years and years, to be able to use that skill and compete at a higher level in a little bit of a different sport, and actually get some money for it, that was pretty attractive back in the day," the 37-year-old said.

"It's certainly not about money any more. Now it's just about the sport and the love of competition and the training, and just getting in and having a go with someone else.

"As I've gotten older, I think 'wow, if only I knew half the stuff I know now.' Experience allows you to have that composure under fire."

Not being easily rattled is one of Manderson's strengths.

"A lot of new guys come in and go like a bat out of hell, and the minute they get tagged, everything just crumbles. They don't have a game plan for what happens after they get hit back," he said.

"It's not that I want to get hit, but I expect to get hit when I'm going into a fight situation. I know what my weapons are and I know what I can bring to the table, even after I've taken some damage. It's just a matter of switching your head back on and keeping your mind in a sound place so you can keep performing."

Manderson runs Fighting Fit Wollongong, and conducts evening and Saturday morning classes in the mixed martial arts.

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