'Wolverine' Mauer wins in MFC debut*

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The much-awaited mixed martial arts debut of Maurer, the Edmonton Eskimos' 30-year-old fullback barely finished in time for early press deadlines.

Maurer defeated Darren (Big Nasty) Apels in the first round and the middle-weight world title fight between Jason (the Athlete) MacDonald and Patrick (the Predator) Cote still remained.

Maurer, a nine-year CFL veteran fighting under the nickname "the Wolverine," decided to make his ring debut in the world of mixed martial arts shortly after being named Most Outstanding Canadian at the 2005 Grey Cup. He talked coach Danny Maciocia and team management into allowing his foray into the ring against their initial protests, but not before they reminded him what job currently pays his bills.

About 15-20 teammates were expected at his bout and linebacker A.J. Gass joked about bringing a big foam fist, rather than the usual foam fingers seen at sporting events. A few Eskimos jerseys, shirts and hats were also visible among the raucous pro-Maurer crowd.

"We're all revved up to see it," said Scott Rodrique, a cousin of Maurer's who was wearing his No. 19 Eskimos jersey, before the bout. "I think he's going to put the guy through the floor. I know he's ready. You can tell he's ready."

The fights featured three rounds of five minutes each and a mixture of different combative disciplines from boxing to jiu-jitsu. Maurer has been training for four years in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and had almost lined up a couple of fights in the past.


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Adrenaline rush was attained and disaster succesfully averted for Mike Maurer, the Edmonton Eskimos fullback who began moonlighting in ultimate fighting Friday night.

It took the nine-year CFL veteran just 1:38 to dispose of his first-ever opponent in the ring, forcing Darren (Big Nasty) Apels to tap out in order to avoid the barrage of blows. Maurer quickly rose to his feet no worse for wear, excited to have his first win behind him, a second one already on the horizon and his body intact.

"(Injuries) never crossed my mind," said the 30-year-old. "At the worst I expected maybe a broken bone in my hand or a broken nose. I think I got more hurt in training for this fight."

Maurer was on the undercard leading up to the Maximum Fighting Championship's world middleweight title fight at the Shaw Conference Centre. That fight saw Patrick (the Predator) Cote upset Red Deer's Jason MacDonald, quieting the sell-out crowd of 2,500 with the submission win.

But the Maurer bout, even though it was his first, held its share of intrigue. The six-foot, approximately 225-pound scrapper waited patiently for Apels to make the first move. Maurer got both the first shot and first takedown in before hitting Apels with a variety of knee and elbow shots.

"It was pretty good," said Maurer, who entered the ring to the Phil Collins song In the Air Tonight, which is popular in the Eskimos dressing room. He also wore a team jersey with his fight nickname of "Wolverine" on the back.

"I'm used to the competition. (But) when the music started playing and I started heading out, I got a bit of a flutter."

A contingent of 15-20 Eskimos took in the fight and a number of them, including A.J. Gass and Ed Hervey, made straight for the ring to congratulate their teammate. They know he's been working on his ultimate fighting career for awhile and Maurer already has a second fight for an amateur belt on April 1 lined up.

"I was a little worried, but I'm glad to see he's OK," said Hervey at ringside. "It's exciting and I'm glad to see him win."

Added Gass, who thought the fight would've gone two rounds: "You could tell all the preparation he's done and the shape he's in. He's got a big future in the sport, he's a heck of a fighter."

Maurer, who gained increased notoriety after being named Most Outstanding Canad-ian at the 2005 Grey Cup last November, was a little overwhelmed by the amount of attention leading up to the fight, but it was Apels who looked tentative in the ring, never landing a clean shot. The six-foot-seven basketball player from Kelowna put up little fight to drop to 1-1 in his career.

Maurer noted it was just the first fight of what he hopes are many and that it doesn't quite match up to the rush of winning the Grey Cup yet. He'll likely have to clear his future fights through Eskimos management again, who were at first skeptical of his particpation.

maybe we'll see eskimo jerseys at UFC events in the future?