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Simon Marcus Believes He Has What It Takes

Simon Marcus wasn’t sure he was ever going to make the transition into mixed martial arts.

A two-time middleweight champion with Glory, the 35-year-old striker from the Greater Toronto Area had contemplated a move to boxing, but when the stars didn’t align for that shift to happen, he began dabbling in the grappling arts, and a move to MMA became the best way for “The One” to take his combat sports career a step further.

“I started training some wrestling, started training jiu jitsu, and I really enjoy it,” said Marcus, who makes his MMA debut this Friday at Unified 42 against Anton Tokarchuk. “I enjoy the whole process and I’ve picked up the wrestling and jiu jitsu quite well, so I said, ‘Why not?’ Let’s make a run at it

“I have some friends that have fought in the UFC that I’ve known for quite a while, so it’s something I’ve been dabbling in for years,” he said in regard to grappling. “They kept telling me, ‘You’re really good for the little you know; you’re really picking it up really quickly.’

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“I got really good feedback and in the last six months or year is when I really started to ramp that up and put some focus on that, especially with the pandemic going on.”

It also doesn’t hurt that whenever he turns on a UFC broadcast, there is a chance he will see someone he’s shared the ring with in the past finding success inside the Octagon.

Israel Adesanya never claimed a title under the Glory banner, but less than two years after making his UFC debut, “The Last Stylebender” stood atop the promotion’s middleweight division, brandishing an unbeaten record and a dynamic approach that has made him one of the most popular fighters in the sport today. He and Marcus shared the ring in 2014, with the Canadian claiming victory.

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Dustin Jacoby fought Marcus twice, landing on the wrong side of the results both times. Since making a full-time move back to mixed martial arts, “The Hanyak” has earned a UFC contract and posted a 4-0-1 record inside the Octagon, establishing himself as an interesting figure in the light heavyweight division.

Last month, Marcus’ chief rival in the middleweight division, Brazilian Alex Pereira, made his UFC debut, earning a victory over Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

“It does play into it in terms of understanding how well a person like myself could transition into the UFC or into MMA striking,” Marcus said of seeing the trio of familiar faces have success on the biggest stage in the sport. “Seeing Israel go into the UFC and dominate the way he’s dominated — being able to out-strike guys with ease — it’s a good measurement to understand the level of striking that we bring to the table.

“Seeing guys that I’ve fought and been in the same leagues with do well is a good way to measure what we can bring to the table in terms of the transition.”

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And now that he’s readying to make his own foray into mixed martial arts, Marcus arrives with the same mindset he’s carried into every professional pursuit thus far.

“If I didn’t plan to become the world champion, I wouldn’t step foot in MMA,” he said calmly, his intentions and ambitions crystal clear in his mind. “It’s always been the same, no matter where and what sport I fought in.

“The goal was to become the best in the world in kickboxing; that is what I set out to do, and that is what I did. Now I’m making the transition to MMA, and there is no doubt, no question, no shadow of a doubt what my plans are, and that’s to become the best in the world.

“I’m not in this just to rush,” he added. “I’m in it for the long haul. Once I commit to something, I’m in it for as long as it takes, but you guys will see me with a title around my waist eventually.”

The first step towards that championship gold comes on Friday, when he steps into the cage at the River Cree Casino & Resort to face Tokarchuk in an event that airs exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.

It’s a solid first foray into the cage for Marcus — fighting on a smaller stage, against an experienced opponent, who most recently went the distance with returning former Unified champ KB Bhullar in his first fight since exiting the UFC.

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Each of his kickboxing contemporaries ventured down similar roads as they sought to reach the highest levels in their new pursuits, and now Marcus is doing the same, with designs on showcasing as much of his arsenal as possible later this week.

“I’ve watched as much footage as I could on Anton, and from what I’ve seen, he’s mostly a striker,” began Marcus, offering his assessment of what Tokarchuk brings to the cage and how he sees Friday’s contest playing out. “Striking-wise, I believe I can out-strike him — I’m a world-class striker and there are not many guys that would put any fear in me in terms of going head-to-head with them.

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“But I’m looking to go in there and show my full skill set; show I’m not just a striker, but that there are other things I can do, as well,” he added. “If I can take him down and put some of my jiu jitsu out there — show people that I’m more than just a striker — that’s what I’ll do.”

And if everything goes as planned in his debut, Marcus is confident that he can make the jump to the UFC in 2022 and challenge for that championship belt he’s after soon after.

“Honestly speaking, I’ve been doing martial arts some time now and I know it’s not a thing you want to rush,” he started. “But if everything went perfect, you could see me in the UFC next year, and not long after that, you could see me as a champion within two years; that would be the timeline.”