For most MMA fighters, reaching the UFC is the dream.
And for Vancouver’s Shane Campbell, he’s looking to turn that dream into a reality. Again.
Less than five years into his MMA career, Campbell, 30, earned his shot fighting under the bright lights of the UFC.
“It’s most definitely on another level,” said Campbell in an interview.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t take advantage of it as much as I could’ve, but here I am, back at the regional level, fighting to get back there again.”
In five UFC bouts, Campbell amassed a record of 1-4, but has since gone 3-0 in a six-month span in his return to action outside the UFC, bringing his overall MMA record to 15-6.
With an already elite muay thai and kickboxing background, Campbell said he will continue to hone his jiu-jitsu skills, and build on his current purple belt in his journey back to the UFC.
“I definitely have a thirst for knowledge, and definitely want to get better in understanding jiu-jitsu.
“Bringing myself to a certain knowledge base on the jiu-jitsu front is definitely one of my goals.”
Elite Muay Thai Base
Throughout his career, he has competed in over 70 muay thai and kickboxing matches, coming away with 62 victories in those contests. His impressive resume also includes three world titles, three North American titles, a Canadian national title, a Mid West American title, and an Ontario provincial title.
Since moving from Edmonton to Vancouver three months ago, largely due to the combative sports ban, Campbell has been training at Revolution Martial Arts & Fitness, as well as teaching his “Shaolin” muay thai at National MMA Academy in Richmond.
“I’ve fought muay thai, kickboxing and MMA, and I’d like to say did quite well in all three.
“Shaolin muay thai is my take on the approach to any one of those arts.”
After growing up in both St. Catherines, Ont. and Hamilton, Ont., Campbell’s martial arts career began at 16 years old when he began learning under Kru Alin Halmagean in Stoney Creek, Ont.
From the moment he began working with Halmagean, Campbell was training five days per week, two hours per day, and continued to improve day-by-day.
Through his 70-plus muay thai and kickboxing matches, Campbell said Halmagean was by his side for each and every one, helping him grow in all areas as a fighter.
“Kru taught me how to fight, more so than just the art of muay thai or kickboxing,” said Campbell.
“He really taught me how to approach either one with a warrior’s mentality, and that’s really carried with me more than just the technique alone.”
Martial Arts Was a Life-Changer
When Campbell first came to him, Halmagean said he was kid who felt like the world was against him.
Not only did martial arts provide Campbell a platform to utilize his skills, it also changed who he would become as a person, and the direction he was headed.
“This sport changed his life into something positive, and looking at him today, he’s come a long way,” said Halmagean in an interview.
For the majority of their time as a team, Halmagean said Campbell didn’t “pay him a penny.”
But Halmagean said he knew the return would come in the future, in a form other than dollars. And it has.
“I always told him the pay back would be to do for another kid what I did for him. Now, he’s doing that, and it makes me very happy.”
— Unified MMA (@unifiedmma) March 3, 2018
For Campbell, the next step on the ladder back to the UFC is a lightweight title defence at Unified MMA 33 on May 11. A victory there would give him four straight wins, including two successful title defences after successfully challenging for the title in June.
While he may still be a few more victories away from a UFC return, Halmagean said Campbell has the mindset, the skill-set, and the determination to recapture his dream.
“He has a passion for the sport. It’s a big part of his life,” said Halmagean.
“We all have our own destiny, and I know part of his dream today is to fight back in the UFC. Hopefully we’re going to see him back there one day.”