During an 18-year career in the National Hockey League, Donald Brashear earned a reputation as one of the sport's top enforcers due to his willingness to rip off his gloves and throw down. Now, though, he is getting to strap on some gloves and change his fighting arena from a rink to a cage when he makes his mixed martial arts debut at Ringside MMA 11 on June 4.
The 39-year-old will face an opponent yet to be determined in his adopted hometown of Quebec City, Quebec, and his first prizefight will come on very short notice. During a recent edition of The MMA Hour, Brashear said that he decided to take the fight after being approached by the event's promoter just around one month ago, and with no previous MMA experience. If that sounds like a rash decision, Brashear can't exactly argue.
"The most I know is from the people I see fighting," he said. "The only knowledge of fighting I have is boxing and playing in the NHL, so I've got a lot of stuff to learn."
Brashear competed in three amateur boxing bouts during an NHL lockout in 2004-05, going 2-1 during that time. Over the years, he has sporadically continued his boxing training. More recently, he's added some kicking into his repertoire with a new coach, but given the short time frame in which to prepare for his MMA debut, he's basically blown off training the ground game.
"I'm not so much much into that," he said, adding that his expected opponent was to be someone of a similar experience level.
He had been scheduled to face off against former minor league hockey player Martin Trempe (0-2), but the 27-year-old recently suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the bout.
Part of Brashear's motivation to take part in the event was a simple regret. Although The Hockey News named him "Enforcer of the Decade" in a January 2010 issue, Brashear says he never fought in front of the Quebec fans during his professional career.
"Aside from the fact that I lived here all my life and played in the NHL, I'm very well known here and I think people are going to come and see me," he said.
Brashear has trained at the city's Nordik Fight Club, focusing on his conditioning in order to last MMA's grueling five-minute rounds. He admits that given his time limitations, his technique "is not going to be great," but that he wants to continue to learning. As for the fight itself, he hopes to finish Trempe and win in front of his hometown. Whether or not that will lead to anything more in the future remains an open question. He admits that he's not yet officially finished with hockey, but for now, Brashear will enjoy the experience of fighting in a second professional sport.
"I don't think you build a career at 40 years old, but it's something that I'm taking step by step, fight by fight, and round by round and we'll see where it takes me," he said.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.