With the right plan and the right discipline, you can get seriously shredded in just 28 days.Read article
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (25-20-5) is the MMA star from Montreal who is looking to defend his 2022 Lightweight PFL Championship and pick up another cool $1 million in the process. It would be a fairytale ending to a stellar 20 year plus career that has tested him to both mental and physical limits.
And, in a conversation with M&F, Aubin-Mercier suggests that he intends for the 2023 PFL Championship showdown with Clay Collard (24-10-0) to be his last-ever fight. Now, deep into training and just days away from that judgement day on Nov. 24, Aubin-Mercier reflects on his career and explains how his training has matured.
The 34-year-old tells M&F that he was 15 or 16 when he became a black belt in judo. “I remember there was a big thing because I didn’t want to do the exam to get the black belt,” recalls Aubin-Mercier. “So, I was a brown belt for a really, really long time and they told me they never would give me the black belt because I was too lazy to learn the name’s of the techniques. To remember it, I was too lazy to do that, and they told me ‘you have to do it,’ and then I won the (Canadian) National Championship as a brown belt, my (judo coach) didn’t like it, (but) they gave me my black belt,” laughs the multiple medal winner. “When I think about it, I was a little douchebag,” he jokes.
While the self-professed “Canadian Gangster” is laid back and lots of fun to talk to, he certainly hasn’t been lazy as an MMA fighter. Aubin-Mercier made his debut in 2011 and in regional promotions across Quebec, finished his first four opponents off by submission. By 2014 he’d made the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” series and while he was unsuccessful in the finale, he went on to rack up 11 wins in the UFC.
Unfortunately, 2018-2019 saw Aubin-Mercier on the losing end of three fights before departing from the UFC. “I think a lot of things was wrong, you know?” reflects the fighter. “First, I think I didn’t develop as I should have, since I went to UFC too soon. But with COVID and everything, it gave me some time to really improve so that’s the first thing. The second thing, I think mentally, I was not there. Especially in the last three fights. I think I was elsewhere, and not in a good place, you know? And that changed. I fell back in love with training.”
Mercier says that when he looks back on his losses in the UFC, he can pinpoint the failings to tactical error. “They were better than me at that point and that’s it,” he says, totally at peace with learning from those experiences. Aubin-Mercier signed with the Professional Fighters League in March 2020, and fell back in love with training, but he jokes that he didn’t have anyone to fight at that point because of the impending covid lockdowns.
He laughs that he could just as well have been training to take on one of his neighbors, but fortunately for those that live on his street, he faced Marcin Held at PFL 4 in 2021 instead, and won via unanimous decision. In 2022, Aubin-Mercier knocked out Stevie Ray in the finals of the lightweight tournament to pick up the championship and a million-dollar-payday. As a kid, he’d dreamed of investing money into lucrative Pokémon cards, and with his newly earned cash he was finally able to make such purchases, although he then gifted them to his brother.
While the Canadian Gangster had previously been a fan of circuit training and hard sparring, he now takes a completely different approach to preparation in this second half of his career. “This year I did some injury prevention,” he explains, noting that these days he only does light sparring and rather than lifting, works a lot with resistance bands. After signing with the PFL, Aubin-Mercier separated with his partner and so newly single, he was able to move closer to the gym. He credits that move as being highly significant in his ability to make physical and strategical progress with his abilities in MMA.
Another big game changer for Aubin-Mercier has been his utilization of the Desmotec machine. This is a device that has been designed to improve rehabilitation while increasing performance. It provides levels of resistance that require the subject to push and pull, often to timed programs. The idea is that through these movements, one can both tone and strengthen their body while at the same time building up the stabilizing muscles to help prevent injury. “That’s my conditioning,” he says. “It’s nothing crazy, I stopped running too, because the day(s) after running I was not feeling great with my knees.”
“I enjoy being part of the PFL, but I don’t enjoy this year, you know?” says the defending champ. “I’m getting tired. My motivation is not there, but the discipline is there.” Still, the fighter is trying to motivate himself in the short term, knowing that his could be his final bow, and that Clay Collard is a very worthy opponent. “I did everything in my power to be the best version of myself for this fight, like I did in every other fight before … that’s why I’m going to take a break. Probably, it’s going to be the last fight this year.” In fact, Olivier Aubin-Mercier suggested that this might be his last fight, period. “Anything can happen, and it’s probably going to be my last fight,” he shares. “I’m happy that’s going to be my last fight, knowing that I’ve never been this good, but with that being said, the cherry on top would be a win.”
So, what happens once Olivier Aubin-Mercier finally does hang-up the gloves? For one thing, the former media student hopes to continue working with the Professional Fighters League in a communications role. Then of course, there’s always that postponed battle with his neighbors, and perhaps a showdown with his brother, should he ever want to retrieve those Pokémon cards.
The PFL World Championship final takes place on Friday, Nov. 24 at 8PM ET. For more information visit: https://pflmma.com/championship2023