The gloves are on

(Submitted)
Manuel Barroeta throws a punch at his opponent during his first amateur fight (Submitted)

Manuel Barroeta has been an MMA fighter for less than a year, but he’s already throwing punches.

“I went to Evolution [Fight and Fitness] and started training. Four weeks later, I told them I wanted to fight. I started sparring around three or four months. Most people wait about a year. I had my first fight eight months later,” he said.

Barroeta moved to Canada from Venezuela in 2006. He used to go to STU, but he took a semester off because his permanent residence visa expired. He plans to return in the winter.

He started training as an MMA fighter in December 2012 when his roommate, another fighter, brought him to Evolution Fight and Fitness. Barroeta has only been in one amateur fight, which he won in three minutes. He trains twice a day at Evolution under Andy Young, who is participating at the WKU World Championship 2013 in Greece.

Several MMA fighters in Fredericton had matches coming up in the next few months, including Barroeta. But in June, the Canadian government passed a bill giving provinces the ability to regulate prize fighting sports, which includes MMA. New Brunswick doesn’t have a provincial athletic board or laws to help municipalities regulate the fighting.

The City of Moncton has revoked Moncton Boxing & Wrestling Commission’s ability to approve MMA fights. All of their upcoming fights have been cancelled.

Barroeta is coming off of an injury, but said training camps start three months before a fight. He said fights in New Brunswick could be cancelled for the next year, so he and his teammates are looking at fights in other provinces.

“We’re training for tournaments in Montreal. Those fights are prize fights, which means we could come home with $200. Amateur fights cost us money,” he said.

Amateur MMA fights last two rounds of five minutes. Professional fights are three rounds of five minutes.

Although he used to study psychology and criminology at STU, Barroeta believes MMA fighting is where is future is headed.

“I want to have two or three more amateur fights and enter a few more tournaments. I don’t want to rush anything. I don’t want to be that guy who he didn’t at the right time because he wasn’t mature enough. This is what I want to do,” said Barroeta.

The fighters at Evolution train and spar together, sometimes with fighters from other gyms. They include STU graduate Mike Thorne, Andrew Thomas and Amanda Robinson, the only female MMA fighter at Evolution. Barroeta calls them his team.

“If you go there with the mentality of wanting to learn, they’re still going to beat you up, but they’re going to tell you how they’re doing it. You’re going to get your ass handed to you by the fighters ” he said.

Barroeta said he plans to stay in Fredericton and continue to represent Evolution Fight and Fitness as his fighting career grows.

“People here want to leave, but I’ve already left. It doesn’t get much better than Fredericton.”

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