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Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

By Emma Kelly on October 27, 2010 in Sport

. Two brothers, Jacob and Rory O’Connell from Clovelly, are competing in a Mixed Martial Arts fight night on Saturday, November 13 at Cronulla Sharks League Club.

Mixed Martial Arts or MMA is huge in America and Japan and its popularity in Australia is growing quickly; so what exactly is it?

“It’s a mixture of boxing, kick-boxing, jiu-jitsu, karate, and pretty much any marshal art that you can think of that’s hand to hand combat, not using any weapon,” explained Jacob, who at 23 is the elder of the brothers.

The sport is full contact and competitors wear very little protective gear; only cups, mouthguards and small 4oz gloves, but nothing to protect the head.

This is the kind of sport where competitors have to be patted down for hidden weapons before the start of the bout.

Winning is by submission; chokes, leg locks, punches or a technical knockout will do. And it’s pretty tough stuff.

Jacob was the first to be bitten by the brutal MMA bug, starting out with Brazilian jiu-jitsu when he was 18 years old before progressing to MMA. He was 20 when he had his first MMA fight. Rory got into jiu-jitsu when he was just 16, using his brother’s training gear when Jacob was out injured and quickly becoming hooked. His first MMA fight was this year, aged 20 also.

Thus far, their records are both impressive. Rory has had three fights and three wins, all in the first round, while Jacob’s record stands at four fights for three wins, again all in first round, and one loss.

The boys first started their Brazilian jiu-jitsu training with Bruno Panno in Maroubra. They now train for MMA at TP Fight Team in Caringbah, under the tutelage of Bernardo Trekko and Alex Prates, and also take on kick-tactics training with Matt Gardner in Mascot as well as separate kick-boxing training sessions on top of that. Needless to say, the boys train pretty hard.

The fights go by weight and Jacob, who is currently 186cm and 83kg, fights in the 77kg division.
According to the O’Connells, losing the weight before a fight is the hard part. A week before a big bout, they cut food down to the bare minimum, surviving on a little piece of chicken and some salad three times a day, no carbs and six litres of water.

The day before weigh-in they load up on water and sit in a sauna wearing a ‘sauna suit’ to get the remaining weight off. If anybody else is wondering what exactly a sauna suit is, Jacob sums it up nicely

“It’s pretty much like wearing garbage bags, except it’s a full plastic body suit that makes you sweat. I lost 3kgs in an hour and a half,” he laughed.

The boys train six days a week, doing jiu-jitsu, strength and conditioning, wrestling, Muay Thai (kickboxing) and MMA training.

Their mother, Kate, is a converted cheerleader. She hated it in the beginning but is now firmly in her sons’ corner. A few wines help steady her nerves before the boys get in the ring.
“I’m sick for a week beforehand,” she said.

Luckily for everyone Mum, the brothers are in the same club so they’ll never have to fight each other!

For tickets to see the O’Connell brothers in action on November 13, visit