The return of MMA to the City of Champions was always going to need a big main event.
Unified MMA will make its long-awaited debut on UFC Fight Pass this Saturday with Edmonton, Alta.’s Graham Park (7-2) set to defend his Unified MMA light heavyweight championship at Unified MMA 40 in Edmonton against Neil Berry (9-9) of Lethbridge, Alta. in the main event.
With all seven of his professional wins coming in the first round, Park has made quick work of the majority of his opponents so far in his career.
Since his first fight over 10 years ago, Park said he has matured immensely as an athlete and he feels the confidence he’s gained from that has been key to his recent success.
“My composure is my biggest improvement. I think with all the training and being more confident in my ability it’s boosted my composure,” Park said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I don’t look for anything in particular, and I don’t have any agenda to always get it done in the first round, it’s just what happens. Whether it happens again or it goes to the judges decision, I’m just looking for a win.”
With a great build and explosive athleticism, Park, 32, has always been known for his forward pressure.
And although Park puts in the work to be in peak physical condition, he wants people to know that he’s not just all about muscle.
“A lot of people say that I’m strong, but I’m not on the receiving end of it so I can’t really say for sure,” Park said.
“That’s the first thing people say when they roll with me and it’s almost a little bit frustrating because I work a lot on technique. I like to think I’m a cerebral grappler and I’m technically sound. Strength helps, but I definitely don’t rely on it.”
Calling the Little Sweatshop home and being part of the rapidly-ascending Shaved Bears MMA team has put Park in the main event position he’s in.
Having the luxury of training at one of the premier destinations for MMA in Alberta, Park said he’s really been able to develop a full toolbox.
“Iron sharpens iron, we all level up together,” Park said.
“You don’t get away with the same tricks for long before somebody catches on around here. You got to catch on quick, adapt and improve yourself. We’re all making each other better and it’s like the best environment you can think of to learn and grow as a fighter.”
Park’s last outing was an exciting title clash with Berry’s teammate Sheldon Doll at Unified MMA 38. It was a continuation of what’s been a long, friendly rivalry between two of Alberta’s top MMA teams.
Another chapter will be added this Saturday and the only guaranteed result is that both teams will get better from the experience.
“Lee Mein’s team in Lethbridge and us at Shaved Bears have been going back and forth for years,” Park said.
“We’ve had great fights and I think we bring the best out of each other. Hats off to those guys, they always show up ready to fight and ready to bang.”
As always, Park has plenty of respect for his opponent heading into fight night.
Berry is a mainstay in the Alberta MMA scene and someone that Park said he’s watched compete for a long time.
“He’s a veteran, he’s got a lot of fights,” Park said.
“He’s already got a title in another organization and he was fighting tough guys before I was really even in the sport. He comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience and I’m eager to put my abilities to the test against him.”
After making his debut with the promotion back in 2010, Saturday night will mark Park’s sixth time stepping into the Unified MMA cage.
Looking to defend his light heavyweight title for the first time in front of a hometown crowd, Park is excited to put on a show.
“It’s been awesome to grow with the organization. I remember fighting for Unified back at the Mirage and if you jumped on the cage you probably would’ve hit your head on a chandelier,” Park said.
“I’m honoured to be a part of it and be the main event of their first show on UFC Fight Pass. I’m excited I have such a wide audience, but it doesn’t really add any pressure for me. It could be a million dollars or 50 bucks, a gym or a stadium, I want to win just the same.”