Gagnon Defends Title, Goals, Reputation
364 days ago, Michel Gagnon won the Ringside Featherweight title. One year later, Gagnon will defend that title for the first time against the unbeaten Rejean Groulx.
“Champion – it means so much to me. Three years ago, I never would have guessed this would happen. My first goal was to just get a fight. Then I got a second and third fight. I liked MMA and I kept going. Then I wanted to be ranked in Canada and I got that the same time that I won the belt. Defending the belt is very important to me.”
The Sudbury, Ontario native has come a long way in his MMA career. Gagnon wrestled, boxed, and was in judo, but had no idea how to get involved with MMA until he heard Dan Grandmaison’s name at a Freedom Fight event three year’s ago. Gagnon explains,
I had no idea where to start or how to get a fight. I did wrestling, judo, boxing but never thought of competing. I was at Freedom Fight and Dan Grandmaison was announced from Sudbury. Right away, I knew I had to meet him. I met Dan and he invited me to train so I started training with him.
By the end of 2008, Gagnon was beating Dimitri Waardenburg at XMMA as part of Sudbury’s Team Shredder. Now 6-1, Gagnon places heavy emphasis on how much Team Shredder and head coach Yves Charette has meant to his success.
“Yves means the world to me. He is a very underrated coach. He brings a lot of knowledge to the table. He is a genius game planner. The last two fights, we knew exactly what each opponent was going to do. I followed our game plan to the letter… He is very smart at putting my game together.”
For his part, Charette is quick to place all the success at his student’s feet. “Mitch is one of the most dedicated athletes MMA has
ever seen. The amount of time he spends in the gym working on perfecting his technique is unmatched.” Gagnon has spent a lot of time preparing for this fight. Christmas was four months ago and he trained right through those holidays. In fact, Gagnon has put in five months of training preparing for Groulx. Will Gagnon come into the fight tired and overtrained? Why train so long and hard for the fight? Gagnon is afraid to lose. He is worried that Groulx will take away his title and everything else that he has worked for. He is coming prepared to fight five long rounds at a pace that Rejean will not be able to keep pace with. Gagnon states,
I have trained really hard for this fight and I will show everyone on April 9. First round stoppage. I am not overconfident. I just want to get it done. By no means am I too confident fighting against Rejean. Its what makes me so dangerous. I am too afraid to lose so I am always in the gym. I am always thinking about my opponent. Is he training? What is Rejean doing right now? I can’t wait for this fight.
What Groulx is probably thinking is that Gagnon has only had 90 seconds of cage time in the last one and a half years. Many in the industry see Gagnon’s record and see that he has never won past the first round. His only loss was to William Romero who came from behind to win the last two rounds as Michel’s game faded. Taking the fight deep into championship rounds may just be the game plan to beat the Ringside champion. With a record littered with quick submission victories, others believe Gagnon has limited striking ability so standing with the champion may likely be the key to victory . This thinking rankles the Ringside title holder who is quick to defend his reputation,
“Sometimes I feel like I want to go to deep waters because I would love to shut up the critics who say I don’t have the gas or striking. No one knows what I am doing in the gym. They only go on my Romero loss. First round I dominated Romero. He came back and pulled off the upset. I only had a year of MMA training against Romero. I plan on finishing this fight as soon as the guy makes a mistake. One day I will prove people wrong that I won’t gas out after the first round. I will not be looking for the big haymaker against Groulx. I would like the big KO, but I will take any mistake that my opponent gives me. I will fight a smart fight.”
One thing is certain, Rejean Groulx has not faced an opponent the caliber of Mitch Gagnon. Groulx is a worthy challenger to Gagnon’s title, but will he bring enough to topple the king and hurt his goal to ultimately end up in the UFC? Gagnon gets the last word on this,
“I expect Groulx will bring what he brought in his the last five fights. I studied his fights. I know what he brings to the table and I just need to bring it better than him. I am still hungry. I have other goals. I want to fight in the top promotion in the world. I am really hungry. I can’t wait for April 9.”