Isaiah Metituk on Pro Debut at Rise FC 6: “I’m the Future of Canadian MMA”

Isaiah Metituk
Credit: Tapology

Isaiah Metituk takes on Russ McCumber at Rise FC 6 on Saturday, March 13. Both men are making their pro debuts in a featherweight affair set to go down at Songhees Wellness Centre over in Victoria, British Columbia.

A tumultuous timeline existed for Metituk’s pro debut which had to be rescheduled a multitude of times.

“It’s funny I was actually thinking right before this interview, it feels like we had this exact same conversation last year. When I was getting ready for Unified. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve had like you said, a few roadblocks. I believe this is the seventh time we’ve attempted to book this pro debut. Now it’s finally happening. In a weird way, I almost feel like I’ve been here before.”

Metituk continued, adding “Even though I’ve never had this pro fight actually happen yet, [I’ve] fought with the pro rules with long rounds and the knees and elbows and everything. I’ve prepared for this, I’ve been to the camps, I know what the nerves feel. I know what to expect now. So at this point really I’ve played this level. Now I’m just waiting to go slay this final boss. This time the final boss is Russ McCumber. So let’s go slay.”

Isaiah Metituk

There are several differences Metituk has noticed in the man readying to make his pro-MMA debut last year as compared to the individual he is leading into Rise FC 6.

“Obviously, with the year-long layoff, even with the pandemic. I mean, it’s cliche but I’m a completely different fighter. I’ve got Grey Patino running my strength and conditioning now. So you know I’ve gone from looking like a little kid with a bag of milk body to actually looking like a professional athlete. Actually getting some strength and some power behind my game.”

“And then behind that, I’ve also been working a ton with Randy Mahon on my striking. Because that’s always been my weakest link. Obviously, almost all my wins are by submission. So I’m a good grappler but I’ve never had striking to go with it…It’s really going to show come fight night that I’ve added a whole nother layer to my game.”

“Then even beyond that, that’s just the physical. I think even more importantly, mentally, I’m light-years beyond what I was last year. Just in terms of my approach and how I’m viewing this. How I’m taking everything in leading to it. So I really, really believe that now truly I’m ready to go in there and show that I’m the future of Canadian MMA.”

Rise FC 6

The training at Grande Prairie, Alberta’s vaunted Champion Gym has had to do a major overhaul in terms of training methodology amid the global pandemic.

“We’ve had to change everything. I mean, I feel like even if you’re not an athlete. Trying to go to a gym and trying to train, everybody’s life, in general, has changed. The way we approach things day to day.”

“But we’ve managed to work around it. I’m still getting in work with Bill Mahood, Randy like you mentioned, Grey [Patino] obviously, Alex Martinez, Luis Martinez. So I’ve still been able to get in the proper work. If not better quality work than before. So nothing has really changed in terms of how ready I am or how ready I’m feeling.”

There are some beneficial aspects to this pivot in the camp preparations, however.

“I think partially in some ways it’s good when you have a lot of guys fighting because you can really channel off each other’s energy. And you can push each other because you’re all working towards that same goal.”

“With not so many fights happening, not as many guys getting ready for fights. We’re able to kind of tune what we’re doing in each class towards each guy. When Alex Martinez fought in December, everything we did for that last five or six weeks was geared towards him.”

“And ironically enough,” Metituk continued, “we actually drilled a ton the guillotine which he ended up finishing the guy with. So, now that I’m kind of the only guy with a fight on the radar and now that it’s actually happening, everything we’ve been able to drill has been specific for whichever opponent I was getting ready to face for Rise.”

“So in that way it’s been really nice that I get to be a little selfish. Everything is drilled towards what I’m doing. But at the same time I’m not taking away from any of my teammates because it’s still really valuable knowledge that can benefit everybody.”

The Debut

There’s big-name value on this Rise FC 6 card as Elias Theodorou versus Matt Dwyer tops the marquee. Coupled with this event being a return to regional MMA in Canada, making his professional MMA debut on this kind of event is something that Isaiah Metituk is enjoying.

“It’s cool, man. I mean you know like you touched on Elias versus Matt those are two UFC veterans. Guys who have both won fights in the UFC. I believe Elias only lost like twice in the UFC. Dwyer won with the Superman punch and got a KO of the night bonus.”

“So you know those are two legit bona fide UFC veterans and that’s a big fight. There’s gonna be a lot of eyes on that for sure. And then to the fact that this is the first Canadian MMA card we’ve had in at least a year if not more.”

Isaiah Metituk continued, “They’re kind of the first ones that are getting everything back up and running. So there’s going to be a ton of eyes on this card. After the performance I put on and the fight me and Russ have. When I leave with my hand raised, those eyes are gonna follow me. It’s gonna really, really explode Isaiah Metituk MMA.”

Metituk vs McCumber

His opponent, Russ McCumber is in similar standing. In as far as he is a seasoned amateur with competitive MMA experience that belies the fact he is making his professional debut.

“He’s tough, man. A gritty durable kid. He’s been around even longer than I have which is not something you see a lot of nowadays. I mean I had my first fight at 19. I feel like he’s in the same boat. So it’s two top experienced amateur veterans both making their pro debut. He comes from a really legit camp… with Adam Zugec and Sarah Kaufman.”

“So he’s got some really legitimate guys beside him and I’m excited. Man, this isn’t gonna be an easy fight where I go in and I walk through them in under a minute…I’m banking on a three-round war. I’m ready to come out looking like I was in a car crash. But it’s all worth it when I get my hand raised. So I’m excited to step in and go to war.”

Isaiah Metituk sees Russ McCumber as his most dangerous opponent yet but that is galvanizing his resolve.  A past experience from an XFFC amateur title bid that went awry informs the mentality for this bout.

“I went from, I have no shame in admitting when I fought Albaraa (Atmeh), I knew how dangerous he was. I knew how good of a striker he was. And that kind of screwed with me mentally. Just because I’ve never had to prepare for a guy like that.”

Struggling with the Past

“I think falling back to what we were talking about earlier with the maturation and the different viewpoint and everything, now I’m excited. I’m excited to go in there and have a Fight of the Night. Steal the show and show that I’m durable, I’m tough, I’m gritty. I’ve got stand up, I’ve got wrestling, I’ve got jiu-jitsu, I’ve got it all. Because it’s going to take every aspect of my game to put him away and I’m excited for that.”

In discussing the utility of his time on the amateur circuit, Metituk touches on how bleak things got at one point, post-XFFC 19.

“You know, here’s the thing with amateur MMA. I mean, obviously, if you have a record that’s 0 and 7, maybe it’s not for you. But at the end of the day, most guys that are in that that are you know taking it serious, we’re preparing for pro. You get a new record anyway right. So I learned to let that one go.”

“Came out of that, obviously I was beyond disappointed that I lost and I didn’t get to add an amateur title to my resume. I was haunted by that loss. Had nightmares about it every day almost. For probably two months, I was borderline suicidal. It really did mess with me mentally.”

Isaiah Metituk continued, “And then it kind of just clicked one day that you know everything that I learned from that fight and how much I grew from it was all kind of part of God’s plan. That in the long term it really benefited me and like you said prior we’re seeing it now. To where I learned, don’t be afraid. Don’t doubt yourself as cliche as it sounds.”

“Don’t do any of that leading into a fight. I learned a lot of that from the Albaraa (Atmeh) fight. When that door shut, all those negative thoughts were still there. Heading into this fight, I don’t have any of those. I just have a sense of pride and joy and excitement. Knowing that I’m ready and that I can take whatever he throws at me and throw something back twice as hard.”

Rise Fighting Championship

Isaiah Metituk is a product of years of learning from names like UFC veteran Kajan Johnson, Canadian MMA legend Bill Mahood, and many more.

“You know, it definitely helps. Obviously like you said on my team I’ve got Bill [Mahood], Randy [Mahon], and Grey [Patino]. Alex Martinez is another really good one. He’s always given me good books to read. Spreading that positive energy that I’m really really big on lately. Because it’s helped me mature and grow so much. But even beyond that, you know, I’ve got a lot of really good guys that are on my team but not necessarily on our team per se. ”

“Like Jesse Arnett. I’m sure everybody knows by now that he’s basically a big brother to me…Kyle Prepolec, Tom Theocharis who you just had on your show. I’ve surrounded myself with some really incredible people. So I’ve got so many different brains to pick. So many guys to get good knowledge and good info from. It’s really kind of molded me into where I am today.”

Isaiah Metituk is looking to put that hectic timeline for his pro debut behind him and maintain a focused gaze on emerging victorious.

“You know, I’m not just happy with that though. I don’t want this to be centered around ‘oh I’ve had to wait two years and all the roadblocks and hey I’m still here’ because none of that means jack shit if I don’t get my hand raised. At the end of the day, I’m not just doing this for a feel-good story. Because nine times out of 10 those don’t happen in sports.”

“I’m focused on going in there and taking out a very tough, very dangerous Russ McCumber. Because that’s what’s going to make me happy. That’s what’s going to be the feel-good moment. I’m ready for a three-round war, a car crash of a fight.”

Isaiah Metituk continued, “And I know whether it’s submission, a knockout, whether I have to grind out a hard decision. All I know is no matter how much blood is shed, whether it’s mine, his, or both, that I’m leaving with my hand raised and a win to start my pro career.”

Parting thoughts for Rise FC 6 combatant Isaiah Metituk

“Thank you to all my team at Champion Gym, BPM fitness…to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…to everybody who still believes in me and still stuck with me through this crazy roller coaster of a ride just to get to this fight.”

“You want to see a Fight of the Night? Want to see the future of Canadian MMA? You tune in March 13 to Rise FC 6 at the Songhees Wellness Centre in Victoria, BC. You’re gonna see what I’m all about and you’re gonna see my hand raised.”