By KOTC Staff
It’s been over 18 months since Raphael Bergmann laid claim to the King of the Cage Canadian Heavyweight Championship, and after taking the title away from Adriano Bernardo last February, the 39 year-old vet is looking forward to defending the belt against Ryan Fortin on October 28th.
“I am very excited to get back in and have the cage door shut behind me,” said Bergmann, who worked his way to a unanimous decision win over Bernardo at KOTC Canada’s “Retaliation” card last year. “There's nothing that makes me feel more alive than that; this is as thrilling as it gets. It boggles the mind why illicit drugs exist, or golf for that matter. Sorry Uncle Lloyd (laughing).”
Bergmann’s championship victory came after the heavyweight had gone 3-0 to begin his MMA career, a run which included a TKO stoppage of established veteran Jared Kilkenny in November, 2008.
“Winning the KOTC Canadian heavyweight title has been a dream come true,” Bergmann noted. “No matter what happens that can never be taken away. I came to understand the sacrifice that previous champions like Hague, Bernardo and others who hold KOTC titles had made and really appreciate it.”
“KOTC is the most widespread MMA organization in the world and to be a part of that is personally significant,” Bergmann added. “As far as being the Canadian champ, I just enjoy giving back, teaching and learning all the same as before. I'm no better than anyone else who puts it all on the line, whether in the cage at work or for their family. Life, like a fight, is struggle so enjoy the struggle.”
Bergmann will head to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, for his first title defence and will take on a man in Ryan Fortin, who is coming off a TKO stoppage of MMA legend Dan Severn.
“I don't know much about him other than he is big, to say the least, as well as a formidable striker,” said the Grande Prairie fighter, who is a safety professional for Pembina Pipeline “I don't study him online like others might. It would be a mistake to assume that he hasn't evolved and base strategies on old fights. I have been training specifically for a taller and larger opponent, but my concern is not his skills but mine, and mine have evolved substantially.”
Heading into the October 28th bout, it sounds as though Bergmann has taken significant steps to prepare for what could be a five round fight.
“There is a large pool of talent that comes through the gym here,” said Bergmann, while discussing how his preparation for the “Gold Mine” card has gone. “We have the best novice boxing team in all Alberta this year, along with seasoned boxers. I've been working with some big training partners to get an idea of what works and what won't. Training camp has been exhausting - the fight itself will be a relief. I've incorporated more power lifting this time around and loads of hypoxic cardio-respiratory work. Going into deep waters like 5 rounds won't be an issue like I proved in the title fight. I think I could give the VO2 Max of some of those Norwegian cross country skiers a serious challenge.”
While Bergmann scored a UD win over Bernardo in his last bout to take place on Canadian soil, the KOTC champ is coming off back-to-back losses to Americans and decorated KOTC competitors Tony Lopez and Tyler East.
“I learned plenty,” noted Bergmann while reflecting on the losses. “I fought a little too soon with Tyler East after my title win last year and didn't specifically train for that kind of opponent, just continuing what I did prepping for the Bernardo fight. The 9 leg round trip to New Mexico was 49 hours total so that didn't help either. All is fair and East is now the World KOTC champ and a fantastic guy - tough as concrete.”
“The Lopez fight was a hard one for me to live down in that I truly believe I had that fight nailed especially after the first round and into the second round after following our stratagem to a T.,” Bergmann added. “Unfortunately I stepped into the ref after a successful overhand right fake to left round kick to the body. I made an amateur mistake by arguing with the ref thinking I had bought a few seconds with that combination. The fight was strangely interrupted without any definition and then went to the ground where I rightfully ate big helpings of elbows and lost. Protect yourself at all times. It was also the first time I employed a 'safety first' style of combat and I won't do it again.”
Now Bergmann will look to remain KOTC Canadian Heavyweight Champion before he embarks on his 2012 campaign.
“It's perhaps a little late in the year to fight again right away, however I'm in tremendous physical and psychological condition and admire how gamers like Lopez fight so frequently, all over the world. I'm focused on this fight first. Then I'll see what opportunities come up and weigh them against the sacrifice of training several hours a day.”
“You miss out on a lot with all the constant training and dieting. However I do enjoy fighting for charitable causes like the Children's Wish foundation, which keeps me going. It's great to work with Children's Wish as an MMA athlete for the first time ever to help out these deserving kids that have so much heart. I'm asking everyone to visit www.childrenswish.ca under the events calendar and support those less fortunate and their families, who are fighters in the truest sense of the definition.”