Gary Mangat Keeps Calm Under Pressure Ahead of BFL 25 Main Event
You’ve heard poems, songs and prose about how diamonds are made and molded under pressure. You’ve also probably heard this analogy mentioned in comparison with a fighter or other athlete.
British Columbia’s Gary Mangat embodies using pressure to your advantage.
As an Indian-Canadian, and one of the few prominent fighters of Indian descent, there’s a lot on pressure on Mangat to perform. Some of it is because of his background, and some of it is self-imposed. It keeps him up at night, barely sleeping as the fight inches closer.
“I’m representing Indians all over the world. I’m representing South Asians all over the world. Because they have not been represented, I want to be the first to represent them in the Octagon.”
It’s a lofty goal, no question. But it is that pressure that keeps Mangat working towards his goals and moved him nearly 5,000 kilometers across Canada and away from his family from Vancouver to Montreal.
“It’s a lot of pressure to put on myself, but if I didn’t put on that pressure I wouldn’t be in Montreal right now. I’d be in Vancouver and living off that hype. I make the pressure work for me. It’s okay to have butterflies, as long as you make the butterflies fly in formation.”
At 4-0, Mangat is one of the brightest young prospects at Bantamweight, one of Canada’s most accomplished weight divisions. On September 7, Mangat will headline Battlefield Fight League 25 against American submission expert Josh Gow (2-0).
“I kind of know that he is a submission guy, but I’ve been hearing about his right hand. I train with guys like Ivan Menjivar, I don’t know if he could be better than a guy like that. I’m not underestimating any guy ever. I don’t ever make that mistake. I think this guy’s a giant who is coming to kill me. I think he has every hole in his game covered. In every aspect, I think this guy’s coming to wreck me.”
If pressure creating diamonds isn’t enough of a cliche for you, perhaps iron sharpens iron will do the trick. Training at Tri-Star in Montreal, Mangat is working with Canada’s most accomplished fight team and some of the best fighters and trainers in the world, an experience he says has been invaluable.
“The team environment at Tri-Star is amazing. We’re a family. We all show up for everyone’s fights. We all train for individual fights, but we all train together.”
“As far as confidence of not fearing any man that stands in front of me, I have very high confidence. My main training partners are guys like Ivan Menjivar and Yves Jabouin. When you’re surrounded by the best, you don’t really realize how much better you’re getting until you go into a fight.”
It is rare for a young fighter to compete internationally without first having made a name for themselves on a domestic circuit. But at 2-0, Mangat was invited to compete for the Super Fight League, a budding promotion out of India.
“That was a surreal experience. I wasn’t sure how big the event was going to be. They were trying to launch MMA there. From the second we got off the airport, it was crazy. I would open my hotel door and there would be all the Bollywood stars I’ve been watching on TV right next to us. To perform in front of 12,000 people, the arena was only built for 9,000, was amazing. Security was getting mad because I kept leaving the secure places because I really wanted to meet everybody. I remember being that kid who would stand in line for five hours to meet Kenny Florian, now I train with him at Tri-Star. If I can give these people a moment, they’ll keep it forever. I know that feeling.”
Some fighters fight for money, others for pride. Some do it for the fame and notoriety. With Mangat, you get the sense it is something more pure than that. Despite having been in Montreal for about a year, he’ll tell you he doesn’t know the city well and has not done any sightseeing. He has a focus rarely seen among mixed martial arts fighters, eerily reminiscent of training partner Georges St-Pierre. As much as he’s here to prove himself as a combat sports athlete, there’s a deeper meaning to why he competes.
“I’m here to inspire a new generation, I’m here to represent people who have not been represented. That’s what gets me in the gym.”