Southern’s Sights Set on MFC Gold
(MFC Press Release|Ed Kapp)
Kurt Southern feels he’s the top lightweight under the Maximum Fighting Championship banner. As such, as the confident fighter is sure to point out, he feels the organization’s 155-pound title belt is his for the taking.
Southern has felt this way since he signed with the organization earlier this year. The thought of bringing the organization’s lightweight belt back home to the City of Bridges, the 30-year-old Saskatoon product noted, has naturally come up quite a bit over the past several months.
“It would mean a lot,” Southern said when asked what the MFC’s lightweight belt would mean to him.
“When I first signed with the MFC, I went out there and said that I was going to be the champ — that’s my goal. I want to be the MFC champ and that goal is right there. To reach it is going to be more than a milestone.
“You’ll always go down as being the MFC lightweight champ,” he continued. “No matter what happens in your career, that’s something that you’ll always have.”
But if all goes according to the former University of Saskatchewan wrestler’s plans, he’ll walk away from MMA with more than an MFC title to his credit.
“I would like to be remembered as a guy who went out there and put his heart and soul into this sport,” said Southern, a winner in two of three MFC bouts.
“And maybe as somebody who achieved more than people expected. I think it would be an underdog story. A shorter, smaller guy from a city where there is no MMA makes his way to the top. I’m getting older, getting up there, but still making a name for myself.”
Like every fighter — especially those on the wrong side of 30 — Southern faces an uphill battle in MMA. But he’s no stranger to adversity.
When Southern was six months old, his parents parted ways — “I can’t remember them ever being together as a family,” he offered in retrospect. He lived in a single-parent household with his mother in “almost a low-income housing project” until she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and, at age eight, it was deemed unhealthy for him to stay under her watch.
“It was kind of a rough transition, moving from my mom’s, which is what I was used to, which was my home, to being taken away to live with my dad,” Southern recounted. “He was good and everything, but it was a change and, as a kid, it was sort of tough to deal with.”
Unfortunately for Southern, the worst was yet to come.
When Southern was 12-years-old, his older brother died in a car accident. Within less than a week, Southern’s mother took her own life.
“It was a real tragic time,” Southern said, adding, “I wouldn’t say I had rough childhood, but there was a lot of adversity that I had to go through as a kid.”
Through everything Southern experienced in his younger years, his time on the mat played a big role in keeping him on the right path.
“I had a lot of friends who ended up, you know, going to jail and doing bad things,” Southern said.
“Wrestling gave me something to focus on, some direction — and kids need that growing up,” he added. “If they don’t have any direction, any discipline or something to look forward to — if you just let them go wild — it’s a lot easier for a child to go bad than it is for them to stay on the good path.”
Southern’s time in wrestling has similarly paid dividends in MMA.
The former national high school titlist’s wrestling acumen helped ease his introduction to his new sport. And, in the early stages of Southern’s career, his wrestling know-how seemed to serve as something of a safety blanket once under the lights.
But those days, according to Graham Weenk, Southern’s head coach at Saskatoon’s Alliance Training Centre, are gone.
“Oh, he’s very well-rounded — his last fight really proved that, when he knocked out (Jonatas) Novaes on the feet,” Weenk said. “His stand-up has evolved to be just as dangerous as his wrestling now … I think Kurt is the best 155er in Canada.”
While Southern noted it’s safe to say that he’s a wrestling-based fighter, he has long been committed to being the best mixed martial artist he can be.
“And I think I can be one of the best in the world, really,” Southern said. “I don’t want to do it and not be the best — that’s always been my mentality.”