Fight Week

Teshay Gouthro - Andy Cotterill MM-eh.ca

Teshay Gouthro – They’re going to see a calm, calculated savage in there.

Teshay Gouthro at Niagara Top Team after his last hard training on fight week. Photo by Andy Cotterill

Teshay Gouthro – They’re going to see a calm, calculated savage in there.

By Andy Cotterill

It’s fight week for Teshay Gouthro, and he’s flat on his back wincing in pain.

Fighters can get hurt in a myriad of ways, but for the Niagara Top Team Bantamweight prospect this pain doesn’t have anything to do with getting hit.

The source of his discomfort is Michaela, the NTT physical therapist who is digging her thumb deep into one of his leg muscles at the end of his last hard training session before his fight with American opponent Efren Escareno at Cage Fury Fighting Championship in Philadelphia on Friday night.

He laughs. “You can see it on my face, can’t you?”

Gouthro and Escareno will be pitting their 4-1 records against each other in a matchup that might not have happened had Gouthro not sent a needling message.

“This guy said no to me three times.” Gouthro remarked.

“Twice last year and once at the beginning of this year. I don’t know if he said no or his coaches said no, but they made the right decision.”

“So I messaged him at the beginning of this year and I was like, ‘You’re a little pussy’ and I put laugh out loud. He didn’t look at it but I know he saw it.”

Gouthro smells blood in the water.

“At the weigh-ins I’m going to let him know that I’m already in his head. You already thought about me, you already said no because you know. Deep down you fucking know what’s going to happen. We all know.”

This fight will be aired on UFC Fight Pass, and the potential is there for a large number of eyes to see him ply his trade inside the cage. I asked him what the fans who might be seeing him for the first time can expect.

“They’re going to see a calm, calculated savage in there. They’re going to see me smiling, having fun, breaking this guy down, talking to him, just enjoying my time in there and putting on a show.”

Zack Powell at practise on fight week, 26 Feb 2022. Photo by Andy Cotterill

Zack Powell – Whatever I Do Tonight Is Going To Have Meaning For The Rest Of My Life

Zack Powell at practise on fight week, 26 Feb 2022. Photo by Andy Cotterill

Zack Powell – Whatever I Do Tonight Is Going To Have Meaning For The Rest Of My Life

By Andy Cotterill

The life of a fighter is never an easy one, uniquely moreso during Covid when there have been months-long periods that gyms were closed for training, and fight cards were not permitted to take place.

So for Zack “Pow Pow” Powell (4-1), this Friday’s fight against Cole Campbell (4-3) at Unified MMA 43 in Enoch, Alberta is just what he’s been eager for.

The 25-year-old Niagara Top Team prospect was just days away from fighting at the inaugural Tarps Off Fight Club in Niagara Falls last December when the Province of Ontario pulled permission for the event to occur.

“It’s very difficult.” Said Powell, when asked how he maintains focus and intensity when the future in the fight game is so uncertain.

But as the saying goes…if being a fighter was easy, everybody would do it.

“The way I see it,” Powell continued, “if I can’t stay zoned-in in those situations, when it’s going hard in the fight I won’t be zoned-in there either. I’ve got to treat every practise like it’s the most important practise of my life regardless of what I’m doing.”

But even though Covid has put an emphasis on that attitude for him, it’s one that he’s had since his first amateur fight a few days after his 18th birthday, and it’s included in his pre-fight ritual.

“I look myself in the mirror during one of the washroom trips I get because I get so many before a fight cause I’m nervous, and I tell myself, This is a night I won’t get back, there’s no do-overs. So whatever I do tonight is going to have meaning for the rest of my life.”

“At that moment I have to stay focused and I have to want it more than anyone else in the world.”

On Friday he’ll get a chance to prove his mettle once again, this time against Campbell, who Powell says is a game opponent.

“He likes to fight. He’s not the most confident striker in the world, and he likes to grapple and he likes to wrestle. He takes a lot of risks…he’ll lose positions to try and go get a sub or go get a finish. He doesn’t fight a smart fight but he’s good at what he does at making a dog fight.”

Powell isn’t overly concerned.

“I just think that I’m a better grappler, better wrestler, better striker. If it’s a dog fight or a technical fight it’s going to be my fight regardless.”

Even though Powell is confident going into this fight, he knows that it’s a great opportunity to work on strategy.

“I usually go out and start fast and eventually I’m very tired in round 3, but that’s not because I’m not in shape, It’s only because I put that pace on so early that I think it’s normal that I get tired.”

While this strategy may work well against the type of opponent once might face at the start of a career, as a fighter enters the phase of their career when their opponents are just as committed and just as fit, it’s crucial that they have the ability to go hard late into the fight.

“I think if I go out there and I take my time more and try to start winning the rounds later, like 3, 4, 5 minutes or at the end of the rAound, it’s probably a better idea. I usually try to win off the bat and start fading by the end of the round, and I feel that the judges remember more the end of the round than the beginning.”

“Hopefully I go out there and take my time and not be in a rush.”

On Friday night, we’ll see who wants it more.