The sound of slapping Thai boxing pads echos through Montreal’s world-famous Tristar Gym as professional mixed martial artist Olivier Aubin-Mercier trains for his upcoming appearance at UFC 231 in Toronto.
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The Montreal native is set to face off against Brazilian Gilbert Burns in a lightweight fight at the Scotia Bank Arena on Dec. 8.
The fight promises to be exciting, as both fighters are looking for redemption after suffering losses in their last bouts.
The “Canadian Gangster” saw his four-fight winning streak come to an end after a grinding three-round defeat by newcomer Alexander Hernandez in July.
Aubin-Mercier is predicting a fast-paced first- or second-round finish.
“Both of us have something to prove,” Aubin-Mercier told Global News.
The two were scheduled to come head-to-head in February, but Burns was deemed unfit to fight by the Florida State Athletic Commission because he was overweight, making him ineligible to compete.
“It was terrible,” Aubin-Mercier said, laughing under his breath.
Burns making weight for the upcoming bout does concern the Quebec fighter. He says he has high hopes Burns will slim down to the 155-pound goal.
Two weeks out from his 10th UFC appearance, Aubin-Mercier admits the gruelling regime is stressful.
“The week of the fight I hate it, but when I win I love it,” he admitted, adding that he feels fresh and on target to be at his fighting weight.
The charismatic and proud Canadian has been climbing the ranks in the UFC’s lightweight division since his octagon debut in 2014.
“Fighting is the only thing I know,” he said.
Recalling his childhood, the 29-year-old said classmates would often tattle to his parents when he hurt them while play fighting.
Nevertheless, the two-time national Judo champion claims to be a true softy, especially when it comes to movies.
“Watching Lord of the Rings, I cry every time when they get saved,” he told Global News.
He says his killer instinct inside the cage doesn’t follow him outside, as the self-proclaimed foodie discovered during a recent quail hunting experience in Reno, Nev.
“I felt so bad,” he said, describing how he had to end the life of a bird he killed with a slingshot.
“I ate it, but while I was eating it I was crying.”
Aubin-Mercier admits he didn’t enjoy hunting but says it was an eye-opening and poetic experience to take the life an animal.
He says everyone who eats meat should have that same emotion and connection with their food.
Formally known as the “Quebec kid” — a name given to him during his time on The Ultimate Fighter series — Aubin-Mercier recently changed his fighter persona and nickname.
“I didn’t like the ‘Quebec Kid’ nickname,” he said. “[The ‘Canadian Gangster’] is stupid, but it means something. It’s just more meaningful to me.”
The Canadian Gangster has recently fallen out of the top 15 in arguably the most stacked division, but he hopes to achieve top 10 status by the end of 2019.
Aubin-Mercier also has grand aspirations outside the cage. He is the host of a newly launched podcast called Le Canadian Gangster Podcast
The laid-back French podcast aims to give more French-language MMA fighters a voice in a largely English-language media sporting environment.
“A lot of the French fighters do not have the opportunity to get known because they don’t speak English,” Aubin-Mercier said.
Although in its infancy, the podcast is slowly gaining an audience thanks to Aubin-Mercier’s jokester charm.
He plans to potentially retire from professional fighting in three to four years.
“I truly don’t know what I am going to do [after],” Aubin-Mercier said, adding that he’s thinking of a possible future in multimedia digital design.
Aubin-Mercier and several other Canadian fighters can be seen on the free UFC 231 prelims starting at 8 p.m. EST on Dec. 8.
The main card airs on pay-per-view.
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