For those that don’t know, MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts, a sport in which competitors are allowed to use various styles and methods of fighting to battle their opponents. The sport is still fairly new but is expanding aggressively. New fight gyms are popping everywhere, and some top-level athletes are being produced close to home.
I caught up with an up-and-coming fighter named Justus Copeland. Copeland is a former UNB Arts student who is trying to make it as an MMA fighter and has seen some significant success, recently winning the Cage Rage amateur 155lbs lightweight title.
Cage Rage 15: Unfinished Business, which saw Justus defeat his opponent via a guillotine submission in the second round of the night’s co-main event, was held at the Moncton Lions club on Aug. 29.
The card also featured Justus’ brother, Jerico Copeland-MacPhee, who won the Cage Rage amateur featherweight title via arm bar submission in the fourth round.
Justus studied at UNB for two years; however, his passion for Mixed Martial Arts was too strong to deny and forced him to give up school and take a shot at the fight game.
Since dedicating his time to MMA, Justus has accumulated an amateur record of three wins and only one loss.
Justus’ story begins in 2010 where he began training in wrestling and kickboxing. According to Justus, he began taking his training seriously when he started studying at UNB. He started training at Synergy BJJ, a local martial arts gym in Fredericton. Since then, he has been training hard and competing in local amateur bouts in the Maritimes.
“Firstly, I fight for myself and for my love of the sport,” said Justus on his reasons for competing in MMA. “I also fight for my fiancé Sarah, my son Asher and my mother Paula, who passed away in 2012.”
I had the chance to ask him if he had received any support from the UNB community. Justus said the following “I’ve made some lifelong friends while at UNB, and even though I’m no longer there, they continue to support me in my MMA career. These are some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and if it weren’t for my time at UNB I wouldn’t have met so many like-minded individuals.”
Justus hopes to one day, after he has gained enough experience in the amateur ranks, move up in competition and fight professionally. We look forward to seeing an extended member of the UNB family realize his dreams and pursue his passion of competing professionally in MMA.