WATERTOWN — Austin VanGorden is calm and confident heading into his first mixed martial arts match Saturday at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena as one of eight bouts at the Victory Cage Fights’ Escape from Quarantine.
The 23-year-old lifetime Ogdensburg resident and former collision-oriented linebacker at Ogdensburg Free Academy will match up in a 155-pound class match with Josh Parker, who is one of a group of Boston-area combatants making the trip to Watertown. All bouts are scheduled as three three-minute rounds in a cage.
“I really don’t feel any jitters. I have a sense of calm. I am confident and I feel very well prepared for the fight,” said VanGorden, who works at Regan’s Collision.
“I feel that I am very balanced in the sport and I am very comfortable on my feet with my striking.”
VanGorden has been studying martial arts for two years, taking instruction in jujitsu at American Top Team in Watertown. He has also earned a one stripe white belt in striking with Paul Elliott, as well as a yellow shirt in kick boxing.
“Jujitsu is a lot about grappling, and I have been coached by Rick Huntsman in Watertown and he has also made trips up here to Ogdensburg to work with me,” VanGorden says. “He has been great to me.”
In preparing for his first MMA bout, VanGorden has also worked with Master Matt Mooney at Mooney’s Martial Arts and MMA School in Ogdensburg and had also trained on the physical and scientific aspects with Chris Sargent of 3 S training to improve his breathing.
Master Mooney seconds all the emotions that VanGorden feels as he approaches his first bout in the cage.
“Austin is the first MMA athlete that I have trained and he is really ready for this,” Mooney said. “He is very strong and very good with his strikes. And he is young, which is good. The big thing for him will be to stay on his feet. The gentleman that he is fighting is also going into his first MMA match.
“But his opponent has gone to wrestling tournaments so I want to see Austin on his feet at the end of the match.”
Saturday’s MMA card will begin at 6 p.m. and the doors open at 5 p.m. General Admission tickets are $25 per person.