Lightweight champion Atzori keeps his eye on the prize
HE SPENDS his days as a disability employment services consultant, helping people with disabilities find employment through his work with Sarina Russo.
When he is not at work, he is training at Craig Glover's Street Smart Thai Boxing Centre, Integrated Hervey Bay or Hervey Bay Jiu Jitsu for either his next fight, or training the next generation of martial artists.
Welcome to the life of 34-year-old Greg "The Tarantula" Atzori, Hervey Bay's newest national champion.
Atzori is on a hot streak of four consecutive wins, the most recent in which he became the Eternal Lightweight Champion.
It is the second belt Atzori won this year after a successful defence of his Fight World Cup Lightweight Championship, but the ground specialist is focussed on improving.
He said the three consecutive losses, the last of which was in February 2014, helped turn his career around.
"I probably needed to have those losses just to make myself dig deep, go away, and challenge myself to try harder and learn new things rather than stick with the one thing," he said.
"I think that's what the last two years have been, just going away and assessing why I've gone wrong.
"Instead of looking at what I do good, which is the ground, I'm looking at what I do wrong and trying to fix that with every fight."
The brutally honest self-assessment has paid dividends, and even after his second-round win over David Butt via a rear naked choke Atzori has found areas in which he needs to improve.
Most of that focuses on his striking, which he has worked on with Glover.
Atzori explained he now aimed to utilise his range and reach rather than focus on his strength on the mat, and while he improves with every fight there is still much more to work on.
"It's great to look at things and think it's fantastic but I'm honest with myself, and it excites me to know I've got so much more to learn," he said.
At the Eternal MMA fight against Butt at the Gold Coast he was guilty of not following up on his jabs and not making full use of his power.
While that could be technique,Atzori did have to overcome one other minor detail: a broken bone in his shoulder.
"We were a bit worried about it because I broke this bone (shoulder) five weeks ago," he said.
"I was wrestling and landed on my shoulder and chipped the top, so we didn't use this arm until a week ago.
"All I did (to train) was stand up and cardio because I had that bone floating there."
Atzori will enjoy some downtime over Christmas but the man who now boats a 17-7 record will continue training in the hope of improving that record next year.
He has at least four offers on the table for early next year but said he and manager Tony Green would make a final decision in the New Year.