Matthew “The Lion” Spisak is no stranger to Canadian MMA fans. Since his 2009 pro debut he’s fought any and all challengers in Western Canada, entering the cage 15 times as a professional. Spisak has won five of his past six bouts, including four via stoppage. “The Lion” returns to action at Unified 33 on Dec. 15 in Edmonton, LIVE on Before that, he sat down with

What is it that’s kept you in the sport of MMA so long?

It’s the discipline. Having to train and live a healthy lifestyle for my career really keeps me on the right track and out of trouble.

Was discipline something that was lacking in your life before you started training?

Definitely — definitely. I was getting in a lot of trouble and was headed down a dark path. Martial arts saved my life.

Do you ever reflect on that?

All the time — all the time. From where I started to where I am now, I’m very grateful for what I have.

How much of a different person are you now than when you started training on your first day?

Oh, I’m a completely person. MMA really humbled me. It’s very humbling getting your ass kicked a few times (laughs).

Can you pinpoint a moment when you fell in love with the sport?

The first day when I started jiu-jitsu. I got tapped out, probably, 50 times that night. It was a really humbling experience, but I just kept coming back, kept on pushing forward, and here I am today.

Have you seen some guys react to that stress in the opposite way?

Oh, definitely. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go — even professionals. It’s hard for some guys to bounce back from a couple losses. I’ve had a few losses, but I haven’t gone anywhere. I need this sport just as much as it needs me.

Have you noticed a difference in your game now that you’re moving up to lightweight?

Oh, definitely. I’m a lot happier, for sure (laughs). And I have a lot more energy in the gym. Some days I’d have a hard time with guys that I shouldn’t be having a hard time with, but only because I was so tired from restricting my calories so harshly. But now I can eat and not be worried about my weight.

Now that you’re having more fun, have your goals been adjusted?

Nope. Before I retire, I still want to be a champion. I want to win at least one belt. I’ve been doing this 10 years now, and that’s a goal I have to accomplish for myself. I don’t care about the money and it’s not about going to the UFC anymore; it’s much more personal now.

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