Kickboxing champ Gabriel Varga nervous for MMA debut at Bellator 224, but that's how he wants it

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Gabriel Varga is nervous heading into his MMA debut. But admittedly, that’s what he signed up for.

The 34-year old isn’t afraid to admit the nerve-wracking nature of knowing his first MMA fight is happening Friday.

Varga (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) takes on fellow pro debutant Jamese Taylor (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 224 at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. The main card airs on Paramount following prelims on MMA Junkie.

“It’s the nerves I sort of experienced from my first number of kickboxing fights, just when there was an unknown,” Varga told MMA Junkie. “So, I’ve gotten fairly comfortable now in the kickboxing ring. I’m closing in on 40 fights now. I’m still nervous when I compete in the kickboxing ring, but this is just different.”

In preparation for a kickboxing bout, Varga said he usually focuses on two main aspects of his game: his cardio and his timing. If he can get those two aspects up to par, he considers himself fight ready. But MMA preparation has been a bit different for him.

“The arms fatigue in a different way,” Varga said. “And the heart rate gets challenged in a different way just because you end up doing that wrestling or pushing, which I’m not used to. I did have to prepare in a slightly different way. Aside from that, the prep was making sure my takedown defense is as on point as I can get it and my submission defense, as well.”

In May, champion kickboxer Raymond Daniels crossed over to MMA when he defeated Wilker Barros with a sensational spinning punch. Varga isn’t aiming to top Daniels’ highlight-reel knockout. Friday’s bout is his first MMA competition, and he’s setting his expectations to scale.

“I know the bar is set quite high,” Varga said. “Raymond Daniels is the kickboxing world champion and he went out and put on a spectacular KO. But that’s never a concern for me. I’ve gone through my whole career just, ‘You know what? I’m going to go in there. I’m going to fight and I’m going to take it round by round.’”

Going forward, Varga said he’ll compete in both MMA and kickboxing and indicated the balance is manageable.

“I think I will go back and forth,” Varga said. “I’ve enjoyed challenging my brain in a new way. It’s something you don’t get too much in the fight world when you get quite proficient at the sport. … That’s really it. I like the new challenge – I like having some nerves back.

“There are sometimes where I’m going, ‘This feels terrible,’ and I don’t enjoy the nerves. But it is good to have them. I think swapping back and forth between the two sports would be good for me.”

For more on Bellator 224, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

1 week ago

Your Ad could be here please email () us for the details.

email us »

Latest news in MMA

Video: 'UFC 240 Countdown' for Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar title fight
6 hours ago
Corey Anderson reacts to Jon Jones battery charge
6 hours ago
Video: 'UFC 240 Countdown' for Cris Cyborg vs. Felicia Spencer
6 hours ago
Matt Serra says Jorge Masvidal ‘definitely’ deserves UFC welterweight title shot
6 hours ago
Watch MMA Junkie Radio with Andrei Arlovski, Ray Borg, Chris Wade, Simon Samano
7 hours ago
'UFC 240 Embedded,' Episode 1: Max Holloway goes to the car show
8 hours ago
Daily Debate results: 'Pitbull' or the field in Bellator featherweight grand prix?
9 hours ago
Alex Caceres: UFC on ESPN 4 win had 'a defining moment in all of my career'
10 hours ago
Benson Henderson welcomes debuting Myles Jury in Bellator 227 headliner in Dublin
11 hours ago
Benson Henderson vs. Myles Jury Headlines Bellator 227
11 hours ago
UFC on ESPN 4 winner Jennifer Maia believes next fight should be for flyweight title
12 hours ago
Tito Ortiz explains how phone call with Randy Couture inspired him to keep fighting
12 hours ago
Colby Covington pokes fun at Jon Jones following battery allegations
12 hours ago
One bad trip: The night Terrance McKinney was killed by drugs then brought back to life
13 hours ago
New details emerge in Jon Jones battery case
13 hours ago
UFC 240: Make your predictions for Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar
13 hours ago
Raquel Pennington: 'I'm just really proud of myself' for rebounding from rough stretch
14 hours ago
UFC 240 | Frankie Edgar believes he has to make Max Holloway ‘second guess himself’
14 hours ago
Claudia Gadelha says it’s unfair for Jessica Andrade to fight at strawweight
15 hours ago
Bouts that could steal the show at ONE: Dawn of Heroes
15 hours ago