Hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and a competitive nature are just a few of many keys to success. And Patrick Pajda possesses them all.
At a young age, Pajda, now 23, realized how much he thrived off and enjoyed competition, no matter what it was.
After finishing second place in his first ever wrestling tournament in junior high school, Pajda said it was at that moment he realized he was destined to compete.
“From that moment, I just kind of realized how competitive of a person I really am and how much that competitiveness drives me,” said Pajda in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I know I can do all these things, and I know I can be better than all these other guys I’m competing with, but I just actually have to put in the work to be able to compete the way I know I can.”
Nowadays, Pajda does the majority of his training at Aether BJJ in Calgary, Alta. under head coach Chris Mattock.
Mattock said Pajda is one of the most hard working and dedicated athletes he’s ever worked with, and a true student of the game.
“We have to tell him to go home and stop training so much because he’s just constantly training,” said Mattock in an interview with MMA Empire.
“Whenever he gets signed to a fight, he’ll come up to me and tell me the small things he thinks he needs to work on. During the quarantine, he’ll reach out to me and tell me he was watching this fight from 15 years ago and ask if I think so and so is doing the right thing with an under hook. He just lives fighting; he’s passionate and will study pretty much anything.”
Growing up with martial arts
After getting his start in martial arts at seven years old when he began karate, Pajda progressed through multiple disciplines throughout his childhood, including taekwando and wrestling.
But it wasn’t until he began working on his jiu-jitsu game at 20 years old that he saw MMA as a real possibility.
“I started doing jiu-jitsu because it’s really similar to wrestling, and I fell in love with jiu-jitsu too. There’s also way more jiu-jitsu tournaments than wrestling, so that’s when I started finding all those competitions I love going to,” said Pajda.
“After doing a bunch of competitions in jiu-jitsu, I wanted to try my hand in something new, and I thought wrestling, grappling and everything else are all building blocks to MMA, so I thought I’d have a decent chance at that.”
Despite having a solid foundation of martial arts in his background, Pajda said, much like everything in life, the learning never stops.
He said he never realized how much there truly was to the sport of MMA, and Mattock has really opened his eyes to how much room there is to grow.
“I used to think I knew a lot about fighting in general, but that was mostly in the striking.
“Chris opened this whole new door for me for grappling. There was just all this stuff I didn’t know, and that just meant I have so much more to learn. There’s things I don’t even know yet that I need to learn, and I want to learn those things because I’m competitive. I want to know those things that other people don’t to give myself the competitive edge.”
Successful amateur debut
Pajda made his amateur debut on Nov. 22, 2019 at Havoc FC 14, where he defeated Eric Haldemann by split decision.
Despite having competed countless times in taekwondo, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, Pajda said the emotions he felt throughout and leading up to his amateur debut were incredible.
“It was amazing; it was super fun. I was never really nervous for the fight, I was just super excited.
“Within the first 30 seconds, my opponent threw a kick, and he threw it so hard that I wasn’t expecting it. Usually, when you’re sparring, there’s a little bit of a warmup where you start pretty low energy, and as the rounds continue it gets more intense. But this was 100 per cent intensity right off the bat, and I just thought damn, I need to get 100 per cent intensity right away too. It was a pretty crazy feeling, and something different.”
Despite not securing the finish, Pajda displayed strength in all areas of the game in his debut, securing multiple takedowns, winning grappling exchanges, and landing solid shots in the striking.
In the time since his debut, Mattock said Pajda has already made big strides in his game, which will show the next time he steps in the cage.
“The big thing is he’s a wrestler first, so moving him into the finishing arts, like jiu-jitsu and kickboxing, and getting him to push a pace has been key,” said Mattock.
“In his first MMA fight, he really struggled with pulling the trigger, and we were able to go back to the drawing board and really work on his ability to finish fights and his ability to hunt the finish. We’re starting to see a big change in him now; he’s competed three or four times since his MMA debut, and he’s pulled off submissions in all his jiu-jitsu tournaments since then.”
Pushing for the highest level
Although he’s still in the early stages of his amateur career, Pajda said MMA is something he’s looking to pursue as a career down the line.
After dropping out of university to focus more on training, Pajda said he has the time, dedication and work ethic to make a true run at the sport.
“This is definitely something I really want to pursue. I’m that type of person where if I really like something and I want to go 100 per cent at it, I’m pretty set on it,” said Pajda.
“The sport is just so fun. The feeling you get when you’re training, sparring and in that cage is just super crazy. Even though the sport is super crazy and dangerous, it’s still just so fun and I understand why people want to do it professionally.”
Much like the majority of amateur fighters looking at making a career of MMA, Pajda’s goal is to make it to the sport’s highest level.
And with the potential he’s seen in him so far, his work ethic, and natural athleticism, Mattock said he believes Pajda can achieve that goal.
“I have this conversation quite often with my partners, and we really think he has the potential to make it to the UFC. We’re going to make sure he gets the proper training, and he’s for sure going to have a very successful amateur career,” said Mattock.
“Using the momentum and learning experiences from amateur is going to make him a force to be reckoned with on the pro side. I think the sky’s the limit for him. He’ll be someone to watch for in the next four or five years.”