SPRINGHILL – The first thing you notice when you meet mixed martial artists Brian Johnston and Trevor Gabriel is Johnston’s warm smile and Gabriel's steely gaze.
When they enter the ring, though, those roles reverse and it's Johnston’s eyes that become cold and focused while Gabriel cracks a smile from his mouth guard when the fighters knock gloves and the round is underway.
Training out of Springhill Mixed Martial Arts – Matmen MMA, there is a lot about the two 155 lbs athletes people won’t realize when Johnston and Gabriel enter the ring this Saturday, June 11, in seperate matches at the Canadian Extreme Cage Rage event at the Red Ball Internet Centre in Moncton.
Where some see brutes bashing away at each other during a match, both are proud to say the fight is just the icing on the cake for their sport and it’s what people don’t see that makes them love the sport.
“Fighting is easy,” Gabriel says. “It’s the training that’s hard.”
“Training sucks,” Johnston says.
“You want to see who’s trained the hardest, who’s pushed the hardest. That’s where the fight comes in but you can’t just walk in and throw some punches. You have to earn it,” Gabriel says.
Training at Springhill MMA is a six-day a week affair. Beginning Monday and ending Saturday, classes rotate between kickboxing and submission grappling before putting it all together in a Saturday MMA class. When not in the gym, the athletes are home paying attention to their health and nutrition as they focus on reaching and maintaining competition weight.