Gabriel Varga recently fought for the Featherweight Contendership Tournament at Glory 17: Los Angeles where he defeated Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai in the semi-finals and Shane Oblonsky in the final, both via unanimous decision. Varga took home the trophy, slating him for the biggest fight of his Glory career in the near future. When asked about the upcoming fights he stated
“Every fight is make or break sort of fight, even though this next one is big, they are going to keep getting bigger. After I win this next one I will be defending it. Once you win a belt it’s harder to hold it. There is always going to be more and more pressure but I don’t crumble under it “.
After witnessing Gabriel Vargas’, raw talent and ability in the ring you can tell that pressure is something he thrives on. He always comes at his opponents from all angles with flurries of combinations and complete ability to control how a fight ends.
Gabriel Varga took the trophy home to Victoria, British Columbia were he resides and trains. Fighting is not new to him, he was introduced to martial arts by his father at age a very young age. Varga reported that he trains himself and sets up his own camp, which is discipline he obviously acquired at a young age with his martial arts experience. Varga reported “I have a lot of support and I don’t want to take away from that, but I make my own training camp, I decide where I am going to go, I decide when I need days off. I make up my routines and decide each day what I am going to do”.
We also discussed his training camp for this fight and he informed us of some of the challenges he endured, and some of his strengths stating “It was a really long road to recover, I was under size for this weight class so I was working to get stronger. I thought I would get stronger and bulk up, but then I hurt my back. Being someone who hates taking time off and loves training I didn’t give it the time it needed to rest. Two weeks turned into four weeks, and so on. I had to realize this injuring is ongoing, and fight through the pain. Out of my eight weeks of training two weeks I was out with hypermobile disc, I would have to go get athletic therapy, acupuncture or message on some days. It was difficult for me because I train as hard as I possibly can, and yeah it just didn’t go down that way this time.” He continued by discussing the mental changes he had to make to prepare “I had mental trouble with that. The sports psychologist and I spent a lot of session concentrating on the fact I could still win and that was a real challenge for me because things were not going my way and missing out on sparing. You do what you can though” He discussed some techniques he used to improve his ability in the ring “ We did a technique to line up your body and your mind and make sure they are in sync. You might think your able to do something and your mind is telling you ‘yes you can’ but your body is in disagreement. So we worked on correcting issues. I am saying and believing I will win the tournament. Sounds hocus pocus, I know, but for me it helps me feel like I am more prepared and that’s all that matters in the end”. Varga was reassured it is in fact a very powerful technique that many athletes have started to use, and visualization has been something fighters are known to use to prepare. Varga reports he likes to prepare for his opponent “I prefer not having to fight an opponent without, some guys don’t even watch videos, I like to know what their face looks like I like to imagine what it’s like in the ring, no fear no shock because I’ve done it a million times already “.
The question being can you ever prepare yourself for a tournament like Glory, not knowing who your next competitor will be? Varga said it is difficult because he likes to study who he is fighting so to not know what’s next presents a challenge. He stated “I was prepared for a battle, last time when I fought in Japan I didn’t really prepare for anything past my first fights. I just thought OK I have to go in an win the first fight, cause glory told me if I fought well, even if I lost, as long as I didn’t get embarrassed they would have me back. So I thought ok all I have to do is show these guys and win my first fight. The second fight was exhausting. Usually once you finish your first fight there is a wave of relief, and this time I had to prepared for a battle, I just had to win. The first fight was easier than I was expecting, and I felt great going into the second fight Shane had a lot of heart and fought hard and I had to dig really deep. I was very happy and I was happy because it was a really hard training camp this time”.
He was referring to all the medical issues and time off he was having to take, he also stated he did a few things different this training camp that defiantly helped him, “I added in a sparring partner Josh Jauncey ,from Vancouver, it was great to have someone at that level to train at. There are some great local fighters here but he is at the Glory level. I did some training at House of Champions MMA with Alin Halmagean. He is a great coach, part-time trainer. My normal pad holder, Greg McWilliam, the guy with the big beard in my corner, he just happened to go to Thailand with me five or six years ago. He and his brother went and he learned the Thai style of holding and we created a pad style that was very unique. He is here training with me all the time without him it would be very difficult to be in shape I’m in”.
So what is Varga doing with his time after his big win, preparing for his next battle of course. Stating “ I’m waiting for glory to get back to me let me know what the next fight it will either be the tourney or a single fight for the title. I get a little break I never take time off. Ill ease up to enjoy the summer and heal up, and get ready for the biggest fight that I have ever had” He continued with “ I like the pressure,. Every fight that I have had is a make or break one…I look forward to getting that belt” And we look forward to following Gabriel Varga on his journey through Glory.