How former MMA champion prepares for his bouts
IT IS the day on which Greg Atzori will put months of preparation into action.
Atzori, a 35-year-old mixed martial artist from Hervey Bay, is ready to step into the cage for his 30th fight.
He has won 18 of his 29 fights since his November 7, 2009, debut at Gold Coast PCYC, and held both the Eternal Lightweight Championship and Fight World Cup Lightweight Championship in his career.
The man known as the "Tarantula” courtesy of his lanky physique and extended reach has lost three of his past four fights, and slipped out of the Australian and New Zealand top 10.
Atzori's opponent for his Hex Fight Series debut, 20-year-old Melbournian striker Lance "Lights Out” Ettia is ranked 20th, but boasts a 5-0 record to date, including three knockouts.
The Hervey Bay-based support worker is nearing the end of his storied mixed martial arts career, but there's plenty of fight left in the Samarai Dr owner.
He has fine-tuned his preparation style, not limited to targeting strength, nutrition, and the maintenance of a high level of fitness, to ensure he is still valuable in the cage.
This time, Atzori had much less weight to cut ahead of his bout thanks to a leaner and cleaner diet. His regular weight was reduced, but the Tarantula has maintained striking power.
That combination has the potential to make for a quicker regeneration of energy between weigh-in and the time he steps foot in the Hex Fight Series cage.
He says he will have full power for the bout, and even though Ettia is a dangerous opponent, particularly when standing, Atzori believes he will have the impressive Melbournian covered.
"I might be lighter but I'll be faster, and I might have the energy he won't have,” Atzori says.
But with a full day before showtime at the Melbourne Pavillon, and the unknown wait from the first bell to his bout, how does Atzori keep switched on?
It is something he has learned from experience.
He sticks to a similar routine each time, though time-honoured traditions and superstitions - a haircut style, a certain meal at a certain time - are gone.
"I used to have traditions, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter what tradition for the day you have, what haircut you get, it's pretty much how I perform on the night,” Atzori says.
"If I'm nervous I'll walk, hang out with friends, I'll do a bit of a run just to burn off that bit of sweat in the morning. In the afternoon I'll go for a run or hit some pads.”
There is one major saving grace for Atzori this time.
A regular main event player, Atzori will top Hex Fight Series 12's undercard. It means that while he won't be on last, it will be easier for him to prepare during the night.
And, of course, deal with the nerves that have been there since his first bout.
"It's hard, when you're the main event, which I'm not this time which is good, but sometimes it's two or three hours before I'm on so it's hard to keep constantly warming up,” he says.
"It will be good to get there and get it over with.”
Hex Fight Series 12 will be shown live on Fox Sports (Channel 505) from 7.30pm (Qld) on Friday.