Toronto rising MMA fighter Michael Karkula joins training camp for Jose Aldo in Brazil, relives experience

February 7, 2013

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Toronto rising MMA fighter Michael Karkula joins training camp for Jose Aldo in Brazil, relives experience



One of Canada’s rising Mixed Martial Artists Michael Karkula was invited to participate in Jose Aldo’s training camp for Frankie Edgar just recently.   Karkula had the chance to trade punches with the likes of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao and many of Brazil’s top contenders.

Karkula, who is 4-0 with 4 first round stoppages, was brought in by BJJ expert Wagnney Fabiano as an addition to the camp because of his strong wrestling style that they were looking for.

This is only the beginning for Michael Karkula who is starting to make waves in the Canadian MMA circuit.

MMACanada.net met up with Karkula to discuss his experiences in Brazil, his future career goals and the Canadian MMA scene.  Hear it straight from one of Canada’s promising young MMA athletes himself.

Q) How did you get the invite to participate in UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo’s training camp, and how was the experience and what did that mean to you?

A) I was invited to go out to Nova Uniao Brazil by my good friend and training partner Wagnney Fabiano and Head Coach Andre Pederneiras. My strong wrestling style was exactly what they were looking for. So I jumped on the opportunity and grabbed my suitcase and before it hit me, I was already in Brazil. It means a lot to me to get such an amazing opportunity to train and help the best Featherweight in the world, debatably best pound for pound fighter in the world.

I was very grateful to be welcomed into the Nova Uniao family and to see how Aldo trains as a fighter. He is a good role model to look up too and I hope to be in his shoes one day. As for Edgar…. Aldo has very high level technical kickboxing and he showed it in the fight between them. Great to see a hard training camp finish with a victory and title defense.

Q) How has the experience been for you to train with a world-class fighter like Aldo and how is the MMA circuit in Brazil?

A) The experience here in Brazil was amazing. Not only do I get to train with the UFC Champ Jose Aldo but also the UFC Bantam Weight Champion Renan Barao, Gray Maynard and Bellator Bantamweight Champion Eduardo Dantas. Training here is tough, A room with 30 talented guys, consistent every day.

Jose Aldo is a great Champion and a humble Individual. He trains hard and hard work pays off. It is great to spar with such a great striker. To understand what the best feels like and to be able to compare myself to the best. It’s not every day that an opportunity like this comes your way. Rounds at Nova Uniao are tough and grueling especially in the hot Brazilian weather.

I’ve always said everyone is human and what we do is not magic. If one person can do something, so can another. Fighting is simple body movement it`s not Rocket Science. That’s the way I look at fighting. If someone is champ and if I follow the same formula I hope to be champ one day too. Hard work ethic goes a long way.

MMA in brazil has many great Fighters. There is no 9-5 jobs for these fighters, Most moved from  around the country to train at Nova Uniao. These fighters fight to support their families and there is no other means. It’s a full time job for the Brazilian fighters not a hobby, I say this because there are many fighters in Canada that will fight for a short period of time and when they realize they’re not cut out for it they just get a full time Job and call it quits.

Q) Where you have been improving since training in Brazil with top tier talent?

A) Where have I been improving? Hmm… well I would say everywhere. I will not be too specific because who know there might be a future opponent reading this. But regardless where ever you go as a Martial Artist you pick up techniques in every aspect of fighting. I love MMA because it’s an endless learning experience. There is always some little detail that can be learned. So working with such a good group of guys I’ve been picking up details here and there. A room full of black belts and great muay thai strikers, you’re bound to learn a few things.

Q) Let’s talk about your MMA career.  What’s next for Michael Karkula and what are your goals?

A) My MMA Career, I love MMA, I love every aspect of it. I love to train, I love the people in the industry and I love to fight. I started training at the age of 16. I started training with Mark Bocek, one of the best grapplers in Canada so I began training at the right place. Every day was a battle and it had made me into the fighter I am today. Most of my experience came from grappling my team was keen on competing on the regular. As at this time MMA was not legal in Ontario.

Later when Bocek started to travel for training most of us ended up at Xtreme Couture Toronto where the team grew. Coach of Tapstar Sam Zakula was always helping out everyone and growing the family. Our team in Toronto is very tight. We are all close friends and great teammates.

I started fighting MMA when I was 20 my first fight was in Quebec on a show that I knew little about. But It didn’t matter I was ready to fight anyone they put in front of me. Robin Black got me  the fight, before I knew it I was 1-0 with a First round stoppage – Arm Bar.

Now today I’m 4-0 with 4 first round stoppages.

The only thing I hate about MMA is too many people say they are fighters, but they’re scared to fight. They like to say they fight to all their buddies that’s all, that gets them going. The last 6 Months my manager and coach   Sam Zakula has been trying to get me fights. I think I have had at least 6 opponents duck me and no one wants to fight me. I`m Ready to fight  ANYONE at 145 in Canada. My goal is to be #1 145 fighter in Canada not signed by the UFC by the end of 2013. Is it possible? We will have to wait and see. It is not possible if I’m stuck at 4-0 and if no one wants to fight me.

My Goals in MMA are to fight in the top Organization in the world and soon. I feel like I can compete with the best guys in the world. I’m ready for the UFC I just need to get those extra fights in order to build up my record and finally get to the UFC.

Q) Lets switch to another topic, the Canadian scene, what are your thoughts on the growing list of fighters (specifically Ontario) and the guys you train with here and so forth?

A) The one thing I envy from these fighters in brazil is that they have fight shows every few weeks. Being a fighter in brazil you can fight how many times you want. There are shows all around the country and no shortage of them. Unlike in Ontario we are lucky to get one every few months. It is very sad because the problem with Ontario is that many talented fighters are forced to quit MMA because their careers are going nowhere. They Can’t fight in B.C because no promotion wants to fly them out its too expensive for them(so they say). The promotion rather have a local fighters. Let’s be real, If you suck and your record is 8-8 they will fly you out everywhere to be slaughtered. The promotion always builds the hometown fighter. Promotions outside of Ontario don’t want to fly in tough guys to beat their home town fighters.

There needs to be more shows in Ontario. We have the largest population in Canada. Shows done right will be profitable. I’m hoping some smart Business men put their heads together and start more leagues in Ontario. People want to see MMA. UFC sold out Rogers Centre. The fans are here and they want MMA. There has never been a professional local MMA show in Toronto. I can’t believe it.

Being an Ontario fighter I have never had the luxury of fighting in my hometown. I have only traveled outside of the province to fight. To fight in the GTA would be amazing. I have so many friends and family that always ask when they can come see me fight. Hopefully come March I can finally Invite them out.

I want to thank my good friend Charles from MMA Canada for writing a piece on me. As for shout outs I want to thank people who have supported me in my MMA Career my teammates and coaches Sam Zakula and Mark Bocek, Xtreme Couture Toronto, Elite Training Centre, Tap Star, JOYA, Street Solder, California Sandwiches and Kreator Choppers for always helping me out and finally Coach Wagnney Fabiano for hooking me up with the Aldo training camp.

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