Jason MacKay – The Mild Mannered Maritimer


Richard Arsenault is going to retain his Elite 1 MMA title on September 18 in Moncton, predicts his opponent Jason MacKay.

MacKay, 34, lists off many reasons why Arsenault will win,

“(Arsenault) is strong, large, good with the hands. I look at him as an undefeated guy. He is 6-2 with losses by decision to home town guys. I give it a 51/49% chance for Richard. He is big and aggressive. He wants this more than me.   I am in (the cage) waiting for it to be done. He won’t walk over me, but he should win. He will be 20-25 lbs bigger than me.”

This is a strange attitutde for a guy about to be locked in a cage. It is even stranger for a guy who is 9-2 in his career and is widely considered to be the top Maritime fighter at Lightweight  (his two losses came to Drew Fickett, who recently won the SHINE tournament, and Steve Claveau, when MacKay had pneumonia).   It is obvious that MacKay is very talented, but the move up to Welterweight concerns MacKay,

“I don’t get my hopes up to beat Richard. I will be 160 pounds. He will be 180 to 185. More importantly, he wants to keep his belt. He wants to win. I could care less if I win the belt. It gives me a reason to stay in shape.”

The Pictou, Nova Scotia fighter is a study in contrasts. He beats the vast majority of his opponents but hates the stress of fighting. It is just not natural for him.  He is like a number of MMA athletes, like David Loiseau and Karo Parisyan, that face a fight anxiety.  When asked why he fights, MacKay answers,

“I don’t know why I do it. It is not loads of money. I enjoy the money and love the training and the guys from my camp are fantastic, but the anxiety of fight night ruins it for me. I cannot sleep weeks before the event. When cage door closes, it is the worst feeling. When (my opponent and I) first engage, the nerves do not go away, I just want to get it over with.”

MacKay, who is very close to his family, felt this way the first time he fought but thought the rookie jitters would go away.

“I thought it would get easier over time, but it doesn’t. Not sure if its the crowd or if I am afraid to lose. I am not a competitive guy. When I fought Drew Fickett, I was star struck. I felt like I should lose. I went there with no expectation to win.”

Not competitive? MacKay goes into the fight with thoughts of not hurting his opponent and not embarassing himself.  He befriended Dan Grandmaison prior to their 2006 fight and could not bring himself to hit Grandmaison when the opportunity arose.  “Dan was a great guy so I looked for the submission,” Jason shrugs.  Just do not get him mad!  The only time he wanted to fight was when Brad Duguay made improper comments about him before the match.  The result?  MacKay would not release his choke and was fined $1,500 by the commission.  The only time he really wanted to stand with his opponent is when his coaches convinced him that his opponent would kill him on the ground.  So MacKay stopped John Stutzman with a head kick.

For as much as MacKay dislikes fighting, he will be doing a lot of it over the next two months! After his Elite 1 Welterweight title fight, MacKay will drop down to Featherweight to fight at W1 in Halifax. MacKay, who will become a military police officer following these fights, will be taking on Juan Barrantes (7-5) on October 23.   MacKay feels that cutting out pop and fast food will get him to 145 easily.  He is really looking forward to Featherweight as “I seem to roll all over the 145 guys that I train with.”  Maybe this new weight division will bring Jason more confidence?  It’s doubtful.

The two things that get MacKay into the cage are the money and his teammates. If MacKay was not getting paid to fight, there is no way he would do it. If Jake did not have great a great support system from his team, there is no way he would do it. “My team (and partners) are amazing and I trust their confidence in me….It’s my own confidence that I question.” His teammates include Jake MacKenzie, a Canadian BJJ phenom, at Gracie Barra in Truro. MacKay also has great boxing coaches. “Boxing and BJJ are my bread and butter and I owe that to my coaches.”

It is a mistake to think that MacKay is sandbagging with these comments, he legitimately hates competition and violence. He feels his attitude in his work with troubled youth at crisis centres may have transferred to the cage. “I tell them its not about winning, do your best, make it fun, leave ego at home.” His mother also faced abuse when Jason was a child which also contributes to Mackay’s abhorrence of violence.”

Jason MacKay is really like most other adult Canadian males – they do not like to fight. Everyone imagines themselves doing it, but most avoid it as much as possible. Unlike most adult Canadian males, Jason MacKay is really good at it. Richard Arseneault and Juan Barrantes are going to find that out.

11 Responses to “ Jason MacKay – The Mild Mannered Maritimer ”

  1. JYD says:

    I bet if you asked 10 people who would win this fight, 9 of them would say MacKay hands down. Fortunately for Arsenault, the one person who is giving him a chance is MacKay.

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  2. I’ve seen a lot of fighters tiptoe around that mindset. I am very happy that somebody had the courage the sit down and face the question. Not everyone can fight and enjoy this lifestyle.

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  3. Very cool – and interesting – read… always wonder about the mindset of some of these guys!

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  4. Robin Black says:

    Very cool read. He’s frighteningly honest.

    People might mistake his honesty for weakness. But he has the STRENGTH to look critically at himself.
    That’s the only way to truly improve.

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  5. Jason MacKay says:

    Thank You for the Interview Mr Grienke !!

    Please allow me to make a correction on my choice wording “I seem to roll over 145lb guys that I train with” !!

    I certainly do not “Roll Over” anyone I train with .. Every person I train with has more Heart and Talent than I could ever aquire … When I answered that question I was thinking about my “Body Size / Structure” in comparison to many 145er’s I train with !!

    I feel that in the 145lbs weight division I would typically be the “Larger” of the two competitors .. therefore I would have some sense of relief that I would have “Size” on my side .. and that would play a small role in my confidence leading up to a Match !!

    I enjoyed our conversation and wish you all the Best in the Future !!

    My sincerest apologies to everyone for my wording !!

    Thanks again ..

    Kindest Regards;
    Jason MacKay

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  6. Thanks for a very honest interview Jason. Thanks for the comment/correction.

    All the best on Saturday.

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  7. harry balls says:

    nice interview. I am a little confused about the weight difference in the fight though. 20-25 lbs in a title match? Sounds shady. Anyhow, good luck Mr.McKay.

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  8. Harry Balls. Jason says that he walks around at 160. Meanwhile, he believes that Arsenault cuts from 180-185.

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  9. Sean McManus says:

    Hey Keith, great interview – a refreshingly honest portrayal of the mindset of Jason leading up to a fight…. it is always enjoyable to read a not so typical q&a yada, yada, interview…great job Keith!

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  10. harry balls says:

    ha Mckay rocking the golf shirt in the Weigh ins. Best of luck , my man.
    Is the Hantlemann fight on this card?

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  11. dbj says:

    this guy is weak and going no where in mma. he is a small fish in a small pond. hey mackay just train and get some self esteem instead of worrying what the website says. you’re supposed to be a fighter not a politician. u r a poser 9-2 against soup cans and still haven’t moved to a bigger org. where and why did this guy get the publicity to even be on this site?

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