Carnoustie’s first professional Mixed Martial Artist said he’s making the step up because he’d regret not trying it for the rest of his life.
Calum Owens, 38, will step into the cage for his first pro fight on October 22 as part of the OnTop Weekender event at Glasgow’s On-X Centre in Linwood, writes Scott Binnie.
And Owens, who runs the House of Pain MMA gym in Carnoustie, hopes to help do his bit to battle a couple of diseases through his fighting.
The ex-Special Forces soldier and Hostile Environment Private Consultant was diagnosed with severe PTSD a number of years ago and said MMA - and training in general - was a huge help in fighting that illness.
And he revealed that anything he earns from fighting professionally will be given to his friend Dale Gunn, who is currently battling cancer.
Calum said: “It’s the natural step turning pro and I’m 38 this week, the clock is ticking and I’ve been putting it off so it’s time to give it a go or it’s something I’ll always regret.
“I was diagnosed with severe PTSD six years ago and MMA and training played a huge part in coping with that. I’m trying to help bring that illness to light.
“Any money I make as a pro fighter will be going to my friend Dale Gunn, who’s currently fighting cancer.”
Owens, who has a 1-2-1 record at amateur level, will fight at light heavyweight against Ross Cooper of Forza MMA at the OnTop event.
The House of Pain owner is eager to promote the sport’s image in the area and as the first pro MMA fighter from Carnoustie, he’s well poised to help MMA shed its unjustified reputation as barbaric.
Calum continued: “I love the sport, I’ve been trying for the last few years now to give it a positive image in the town.
“It’s still tarnished with the human cockfighting tag that it doesn’t deserve.
“It’s the fastest growing sport in the world. With the UFC coming to Scotland last week, and having three Scottish fighters in the company, it’s absolutely booming at a local level and it’s a great time to be involved with the sport.”
With a background in boxing, Calum will be comfortable if his opponent stays on his feet but Owens - originally from Cumnock - believes Cooper will take the fight to the ground.
As such, he has enlisted the help of local grapplers to assist him in honing his ground game, including international backhold wrestling champion Frazer Hirsch.
Calum added: “My background is in stand-up, boxing, but to fight at this level I have to be well-rounded.
“I’ve been training with Frazer Hirsch who is the backhold wrestling champion and I’ve been getting grapplers into the gym to help me mimic my opponent’s style.
“I think he’ll look to take it to the ground and I’m going to be comfortable wherever the fight goes.
“You can’t just have one skill. That’s what’s happening with the sport now, people are coming to MMA gyms and training everything.
“Days gone by you’d have to go to Arbroath for boxing, somewhere else for a wrestling class then a ju-jitsu class.”