By Imre Gams
Imposing your will is a phrase often heard in Mixed Martial Arts. Commentators, fighters, and coaches use it to describe the process of breaking an opponent down. What sometimes goes forgotten however, is that a fighter imposes their will not only during their fight, but also every day in training. With the explosion of the UFC into the mainstream, everybody may want to be a fighter, but make no mistake - the barriers of entry into this sport are incredibly high. It takes more than talent to succeed at mixed martial arts. Above all, it takes an iron will and the mentality that although the challenges you will face as a fighter are overwhelming, giving up is simply not an option.
Enter Jason Saggo. Jason is only 25 years old, and first started training at the age of 21. As of today, he has compiled an impressive professional MMA record of 5-1, with all his wins coming by way of submission. He also holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Royler Gracie black belt Paul Abel, and has fought as a professional Muay Thai fighter in Thailand. It goes without saying that it is one impressive resume that Mr. Saggo has put together in short time.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jason after one of his training sessions at his home gym of Bolton Gracie Humaita. The first thing I noticed about Jason is how quickly he opened up and how passionate he was to talk about the sport of MMA and his continued development as a professional fighter. He told me that he started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while attending the University of Guelph. After being exposed to BJJ, he told me that he simply fell in love with the sport and wanted to cross-train for MMA. Adding to his Jiu Jitsu skills, Jason then went to Thailand to train with the famed Tiger Muay Thai team, where he developed a close relationship with Ray Elbe. After spending ten months in Thailand, he returned to Canada where he continues to hone his game principally under the tutelage of Professor Abel. When I asked him about his exposure to various coaches and teachers he told me that, “My big passion is traveling. I love to travel. I’ve been to the Philippines, and to Thailand. I’ve lived in Brazil. My first fight was actually in Ireland. I think it’s so cool to be able to connect with people all over the world, and they all have something different to offer”.
Most fighters, even ‘professional’ ones have day jobs. The truth is that unless you have signed a lucrative contract with a major promotion, it is difficult to make a living off of fighting alone. Jason however, will be the first to tell you that he is into this first and foremost because of his love for martial arts, “I do this because I love this sport, and I fell in love with this sport. I love coming in every day and getting better, and always evolving. I love everything about this atmosphere. There’s a whole lifestyle associated with this job, and yeah there are sacrifices that have to be made, but I absolutely love it”. Speaking of sacrifices, Jason is certainly a very busy man. He last fought to an incredibly close split-decision loss in August, and he is looking to bounce right back next Saturday, October 21, against Kevin Morin. The promotion is Ringside MMA, and the venue is none other than the Bell Centre, where Georges St-Pierre defended his title against Josh Koscheck. Headlining the card is Paul “Semtex” Daley, who squares off against Luigi Fioravanti.
There are many fighters out there who will tell you that their dream is to fight in the UFC. I promise you, Jason Saggo is one fighter who will live out that dream. From his management team to his coaches, he is in excellent hands. Not only does he have the skill and the raw talent to make it to the highest levels of this sport, he also has the heart.