Jason MacKay – The Mild Mannered Maritimer
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.