A Strathcona County mixed martial artist is not afraid of a fight.
Graham Park is preparing to defend his Unified MMA light heavyweight championship on Aug. 14 at the River Cree Casino in Edmonton against Neil Berry of Lethbridge.
“I don’t think there’s anything that I’m going to throw at him that’s going to be a surprise, but I do intend to throw something at him that he can’t handle,” Park said.
When the 32-year-old is not preparing for his upcoming fight, he is spending much of his time working his day job as a firefighter with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services.
“Firefighting is an awesome career. It’s exciting. There’s some hard days and some days that’ll put a smile on your face,” Park said.
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Park has been a firefighter for three-and-a-half years and competing in MMA for 10 years. He has a passion for both careers, but admits balancing both can be a challenge.
“It doesn’t leave me a lot of spare time,” he said. “I’ll leave night shift, come in, get a workout in, try to get some rest before the next night shift.”
Park’s MMA coach has an excellent understanding of the challenging schedule his pupil endures. Jeff Montemurro is also a firefighter as well as the co-owner of Little Sweat Shop in Sherwood Park where Park trains. Montemurro has long been impressed with Park’s commitment.
“He’s a dedicated athlete,” Montemuro said. “He comes in, he puts in the work. And obviously for him, his first love is firefighting and his first priority is firefighting, but he spends his other time dedicated to being a professional fighter.”
Despite Park’s busy schedule, Montemurro said the MMA champion has shown continual improvement.
“He’s improved in skill. He’s bigger, faster, stronger… more mature as an athlete,” Montemurro said.
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A win on Aug. 14 would be Park’s fifth straight victory and it will bring him a step closer to his ultimate goal of competing in the UFC.
“I think if I just keep to the path, keep (to) the grindstone and keep winning fights, that’s inevitable for me,” Park said.
But no matter where MMA takes him, Park said he is never giving up his day job.
“I love my job,” he said. “I love serving the people of Edmonton.”
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