Mike McAloon tapping into fighting core, martial arts ethos for BFL 69 co-main event

Mike McAloon
Mike McAloon in action at BFL 67. (Photo by Joel Griffith)

Toronto, Ont. featherweight prospect Mike McAloon (4-2), who meets Nicolas Ouellet (1-0) this Friday in the co-main event of BFL 69, had an auspicious start in combat sports—and might have had to break a rule or two to make it happen.

McAloon, 29, said his first memory of martial arts of any kind is sneaking up to the wrestling room of his high school gymnasium with friends after the final bell, and play-fighting until they were inevitably caught and reprimanded.

“We’d put a dime in the door and the lock would get jimmied. After school they would just lock that up, but if you managed to get there at like 2:55 you could jam a dime in the locking sequence, and it would just jam it up, and then we’d go up there until 3:30 or 4:00 or until we were kicked out, and basically just like, schoolyard-wrestle. Any jiu-jitsu or wrestling that we knew, but then again we used to think a double-leg was a spear (from professional wrestling),” said McAloon in an interview with MMA Empire.

“Sometimes the gym teacher would come up there and he’d be like, ‘what in the hell,’ because we would just be loud and making noise, being hooligans.”

Out of action throughout 2020, McAloon returned this past June at BFL 67 with a rear-naked choke win over John Nguyen, and said the rough-and-tumble years of his youth were a natural if indirect segue into the combat arts.

“I dipped into jiu-jitsu and kickboxing classes kind of around the same time, back when I was about 16 or 17,” said McAloon.

“I’d had a couple tussles outside of the gym before I got into martial arts and from watching what I saw on TV and getting into scraps on the street, I just basically fell into it.”

2020 may have been a disruptive year for most active fighters, and McAloon counts himself among them, but as he explains, the twists and turns of the pandemic paradoxically landed him exactly where he needed to be.

“In January-February I was in Indonesia doing a wrestling and cross-training camp at Bali MMA with coach Don (Carlo-Clauss), and on the Indonesian news they were talking about Wuhan and everything, and Trudeau got on the speaker one day and told all the Canadians to come home, so I came home,” he said.

“I did a video call on my birthday with my friend Paul Fisher from Toshido MMA, and he invited me to train. I think Bali really helped me understand what I needed when it comes to this sport, and when I came back to Canada I found it in the pack of savages they had at Toshido MMA. We push each other as hard as we can, nothing more and nothing less, and Dave (Lea) is a stellar coach. He runs a pretty tight ship.”

McAloon said the work at Toshido has him more than ready for whatever challenges his opponent, Ouellet, presents on Friday and, as per usual, deferred most of the tape study and game-planning to his coaches.

“I don’t know much about him to be honest,” he said of Ouellet.

“I know he’s got one fight. From the last BFL thing he looked good on the ground, you know, he’s a newly-crowned blackbelt, so I can’t really expect anything less in that aspect. Stand up looked okay, you know what I mean, maybe a little choppy, the footing might be a little off, but yeah, I take every fight like I’m fighting Khabib. I’m not underestimating any of his skills; I’m assuming he’s slipping like Mayweather, shooting like Georges (St. Pierre), and head-kicking like Cro Cop. I’m just coming in as sharp as I can possibly be.”

At 5’11″ competing in the 145-pound division, McAloon says that while the weight cut is always difficult to endure, he is committed to the weight class for the foreseeable future, and uses the discipline required to hit the featherweight mark as motivation, and a mental primer, for his performance.

“Everything plays a factor. And if his movement’s a little choppy I feel like my range will play a big part because my movement’s on point. I’m sure we’ll exchange some straight punches if his is too, but if not, it’s going to be a problem for him,” said McAloon.

“I’m excited to see him at the weigh-ins and size him up. Then I can give a fair assessment, but I need to see body language, his posture, I need to see the eyes, I need to see these things. Then I can tell how confident, how sure of himself he is.”

Follow McAloon on social media: INSTAGRAM