Olivier Aubin-Mercier may only be 26 years old, but time waits for no one, especially prizefighters, so there will eventually come the day when he will have to address the nickname “The Quebec Kid.”
“It’s funny because I talked about this, and maybe sometime if I’m going to fight for the belt or win the belt, I can change my nickname to ‘The Quebec Man’ or something like that,” he laughs, already a step ahead of the game.
The Montreal native’s ability to see moves before anyone else does has led him to victories in all but one of his eight pro fights, and that success, coupled with a quick wit and a high upside in the sport, has him representing Canada as one of the group of UFC athletes signed to Reebok, something he wasn’t exactly expecting.
“For me, it was a great surprise, and I feel some weight on my shoulders for sure, but I’m ready for this, and I’m super proud to be part of this thing,” Aubin-Mercier said as he awaits his Sunday bout in Saskatoon against hard-hitting Tony Sims. Sounds like a young man who has everything under control.
“I would not say I have it under control, but it’s more under control,” he said. “When I came into the UFC, I think I wasn’t ready mentally to have all this pressure on my shoulders, but I think I really grew from my last fight. Even for this training camp, everything is different, especially in my head, and I think it’s a good thing. I started to have more experience, and I think we’re definitely going to see that when I fight.”
To say he’s come a long way from his formative years in martial arts would be an understatement, especially considering how his early days in judo went.
“When I was 13, I started judo and the first year I did all these tournaments, and I didn’t win a fight for a year,” he said. “It wasn’t until after a year that I started winning fights, and after two years, I was the junior champion of Canada.”
During that time, he not only learned his craft, but he learned how to be humble, something he says he also owes to his mother.
“In the beginning, I think people really made me humble because they were all kicking my ass,” he laughs. “I think that helped me a lot, but my mom is probably the nicest woman ever and the most humble woman ever, so that’s part of it too.”
Aubin-Mercier has retained that attitude to this day, even though he’s had the kind of success that some would use to show a little swagger. That’s not his style though. What is notable though is that after losing a year’s worth of judo matches, he still showed up to the dojo and kept working until everything came together. That kind of persistence doesn’t show up on a won-loss record – at least not at first – and when asked why he kept going, he’s stumped at first.
“I really don’t know, maybe I was stupid or something,” Aubin-Mercier laughs. “But all my life, everybody was telling me that you have to try and try harder. I was reading a lot of manga and everywhere I looked that’s what was said. Maybe that’s what happened. I think I’m kind of a poetic man in the sense that I like happy endings and all those kind of things. I just told myself I enjoy it, so let’s try it more and let’s try it harder, and it paid off at the end.”
The end of OAM’s MMA career isn’t here yet, not even close, as there are still fights to win, titles to collect, and a legacy to create. But if he was writing his story, what does
the ending look like?
“It’s a happy one,” he chuckles. “I’d say being a champion and retiring at a good time. I don’t want to be one of those great athletes who fight a little bit too much. I think (teammate and former UFC welterweight champion) Georges (St-Pierre) is the greatest example of a really happy ending.”