Williams Lake’s Gary ‘Saint Lion’ Mangat will look to right the ship in 10 days time and get back to his winning ways inside the octagon.
Mangat — who suffered the first loss of his Mixed Martial Arts career last September — makes his return on Saturday, Aug. 23 to fight Blair Oster in a bantamweight (135 pounds) bout in the co-main event of Battlefield Fight League 32 at the River Rock Casino and Resort in Richmond, B.C.
Mangat (4-1) was scheduled to fight Oster (2-2) in May before Oster pulled out with an injury. Mangat knows little of his North Battleford, Sask. opponent but hopes the two Canadians can put on a show in front of Saint Lion’s home town fans.
“I know very little about Oster, just what I’ve seen on the internet. I’m not worried about him — I’ve been training for all possible outcomes,” said Mangat.
Mangat’s loss on Sept. 7 at Battlefield 25 — also at the River Rock Casino and Resort — to Spokane, WA.’s Josh Gow via TKO with just 30 seconds left in the third and final round — forced him to go back to the drawing board for answers.
“The loss was much more a mental struggle than a physical one for me. I knew I wasn’t going to change how I train because I train as hard as anyone,” said Mangat. “I realized I needed to be more mentally balanced and be excited about the possibility of fighting and not burnt out like I was.”
The fight was billed as fight of the night saving a rather lacklustre card and many — including Mangat — felt the stoppage to the fight was premature.
The B.C. Athletic Commissioner Dave Maedel was watching the event cage-side which may have caused the referee to err on the side of caution.
“My overall mindset has me happier, excited, I’m trying to embrace the pressure instead of letting it consume me like it was,” said Mangat.
Mangat, a Columneetza Secondary school graduate, has trained the past couple years at the world famous Tri-Star MMA in Montreal with UFC stars including Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald. He returned home to Surrey this May and has been training for his most recent bout at Revolution MMA in Langley with the likes of ONE-FC World Champion Bibiano Fernandes.
“Fernandes is probably the best bantamweight outside of the UFC and he regularly travels to Washington to train with UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson,” said Mangat.
“He’s really helped me put my game together for this fight.”
A change of scenery and some home cooking may be just what Mangat needs to bring out the best in him.
“I think the difference for me isn’t whether I’m training at Tri-Star or Revolution but being in Vancouver instead of Montreal,” said Mangat.
“In Montreal I was a small fish but when I’m back in Surrey I’m constantly reminded of all the sacrifices I’ve made to get here — people see me around town and always offer me their support.”
Part of the reason Mangat left for Montreal was to get away from all the hometown distraction. Now he is hoping to use his familiar settings to his benefit.
“Being here walking the same streets I did before I got into MMA — I went to White Rock the other day to walk along the ocean and clear my mind — all these tiny things I’ve come to appreciate and it makes me want to work harder,” said Mangat.
After the fight, Mangat will decide whether he plans to remain in Surrey or head back to Montreal.
Back in Surrey — with a massive indo-Canadian population — Mangat has a huge following of supporters, many of whom will make the short drive to Richmond to cheer him on.
Mangat’s parents still reside in the lakecity and Gary says they will be in attendance but have no plans of heading south when they retire.
“My parents will be supporting me at the fight but I doubt my folks will ever move down here. They’re simple people and are happy in Williams Lake — they don’t like the traffic and all the big city stuff,” added Mangat.
Tickets to Battlefield 32 are available at www.ticketmaster.ca and prices range from $43-$108. The main-event features pro featherweights (145 pounds) — both former champions — Jeremy Kennedy and Andre Da Silva.
The card features five pro and seven amateur bouts.