– [Voiceover] You know, when I took this job, I think one of the most valuable things that happened was that I met him, you know, became friends with him and it’s hard to explain that, but I got lucky. You know, I met Justin Basra, Justin Basra changed me, he gave me an outlet for a new career and has helped me get better at my job, you know, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be as good a coach as I am now.
– [Voiceover] Fighter, noun: a person with the will, courage, determination, ability, and disposition to fight, struggle, resist. Seems simple enough, but the people behind the noun are rarely that transparent. They overcome the misconceptions of the title everyday. Behind the fighter, the stories and life experiences that make them who they are. Behind the fighter, a person who re-defines themselves everyday using the qualities and traits that make them successful martial artists. A fighter tackles life’s everyday challenges with the same will and determination that allows them to step in the cage with an opponent bent on stopping them. Fighter, noun, fighters don’t need definition, they define.
– [Voiceover] My name is Justin Basra, I’m born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, I’m 27 years old, I’m a mixed martial artist training out of Elite Training Center and Empower Fitness. I started off as an amateur wrestler in junior high and followed that all the way ’till the age of 26, placed as high as second in the country and I’ve been placing in the top five in the past six years. I made the transition to MMA, it just felt like something I was always interested in and something that I wanted to pursue, but I didn’t know it to the level that I could pursue it to and after about a year of training I just fell in love with the sport and it’s all I wanna do. What drives me to learn about the sport is that the sport’s always evolving, so if you just think you know it all with what you got, there’s always someone evolving ahead of you, so I’m always watching the top guys in the UFC and seeing what they’re doing and how they’re evolving and trying to apply the same skill set they are. When I have time I just make like protein pancakes, a recipe Louis told me, or if I’m running late just have some toast with some peanut butter on it, but today we got some time, so I’ll make the pancakes. Put some almond milk. I don’t know, it’s just, I’m not a big fan of regular milk, I think I’m somewhat lactose intolerant, but not officially diagnosed, self diagnosed lactose intolerant. They’re vanilla flavored, so it’s alright. Yes, some whole wheat grains in there and vanilla flavored protein, it’s not bad. We’ll just turn that heat up. If there’s a problem I usually have, is the flip, but I did alright this time. Burnt it a little bit.
– [Voiceover] Not enough.
– No, not enough to start over again. Take advantage of water, people don’t understand. I started at a young age, I started when I was in junior high, but I started wrestling when like my dad was teaching me how to wrestle when I was like five or six years old. He got us a full size wrestling mat and it was in our garage and we trained there, and then when my brother got older he was like my training partner, but that’s how it all started, is just with my dad asking me if I wanted to wrestle and I said “yeah”. We’re headed down to Elite Training Center and Empower Fitness, I have a private session with Francois and I’m helpin’ him run class right after. The first one was October of 2014 and it was against Clay Dickson, and we’ve wrestled against each other numerous times throughout the years, he also wrestled in the 125, I think he was like second in the country for junior nationals, but so the fight was pretty much two wrestlers going at it and words were said that none of us are gonna get taken down by the other, but I was nervous about getting hit as my first fight, I spar with good guys, but that was the first time I’ve actually been in an MMA atmosphere, the competition, and I took him down and I tried a few submissions and I think he got on top in the first round with like 10 or 15 seconds left, so I lost like 15 seconds of the first round. Second round was pretty much very similar and I got a big slam out of it too, like he came out not as energized and I landed a lot of ground shots on the body and then that was pretty much, just out wrestled him the whole fight, but the third round was very similar and I remember landing a few knees when I got a takedown too, on side control and then I won the fight. I think MMAwas when I looked it up, scored all three rounds ten, eight, is you know, I think I lost maybe ten seconds of the first round where he re-rolled me and ended up on top, but outside that ten seconds I was completely dominant the whole fight and he’s pretty good, he’s gone on to do pro and I think he’s 3-0 as a professional fighter. I’m pretty proud of that win. Looking back at the fight, I wish I would’a used my striking a little bit more and ’cause I have really good striking coaches and Francois Duval and Louis Witt. My striking’s always been there, just the confidence hasn’t been ’till recently. For that fight, I wish I would have opened up in the striking a little bit more and broke that stereotype I have right now, that I’m just a wrestler.
– How you doin’?
-how you doin’?
– Good, man.
– [Voiceover] I started training with Francois Duval about a year and a bit ago, and it all started with, I was training a fighter, Keith McDuff, he was injured and coming back off an injury and he’s gonna fight a guy named Nick Burnham, and Nick Burnham’s a good wrestler and I was always here in the gym wrestling and Keith is like “man, one day you gotta fight” and I was like “no man” and then Francois was like “yeah, you know, I’ll train ya”, and I’m like “really?”, I didn’t really talk to Francois at the time and he kinda took me under his wing and introduced me to a Hard Knocks’ fighter, Louis Witt.
– I’m really, really blessed here at Elite to have the Rock wrestling team, so that’s how it all started. And then months and months later I got to meet with Justin who had been obviously wrestling here twice a week, regularly, and then all of a sudden he’s training with some of my guys, I take notice to him, just ’cause obviously I’m really busy with the gym at night, so I don’t really see the wrestling practices. But obviously when you see this guy that keeps coming and spends more time at the gym than you, obviously you take notice. So anyways, no, I just asked Justin and I’m like “hey man, are you interested in fighting MMA, you know?” and it was like a calling, like he didn’t even flinch, he’s like “yeah”, and that to me is, those are the guys, you know what I mean? That don’t ask and they just wait for their calling. I think like it doesn’t really matter on the level of wrestling that the guy’s at, it’s often their mentality. If the guy crosses over into MMA, doesn’t matter if it’s wrestling, boxing, muay thai, whatever, whatever traditional martial art or combat sport you used to be, will not always save you in MMA. So, you just need to be open minded, that’s where I think Justin made the difference. Right away he’ll say, he comes to me and says “I’ll do what you tell me to do”, I was like “we need to catch up on your striking”. A lot of wrestlers think, no, I’ll figure it out, I’ll just jump in the cage, I’ll take him down, and then I’ll just beat him up. It’s not always like that, so now I wanted him to make, you know what I mean, obviously make him a good striker, so people know that, watch his hands. It only took three fights now to showcase that, right? What makes this team good is being honest with ourselves, so I don’t fake jiu jitsu and I don’t fake wrestling, I have Mike Dunn and the Rock wrestling team here, and I have, you know what I mean, a lot of really, really good jiu jitsu guys that do gi jiu jitsu and only care about jiu jitsu and those guys are the ones that teach here. Same with the muay thai, I have two instructors right now that just arrived back from Thailand last night, they both fought. So, we’re really, really into each martial art that we do. Yeah, so where Justin’s personality kicks, and I think he’s a very, very just humble, very relaxed person, so if I come in with my hands up in the air, he’ll let the storm pass and two minutes later we’re talking about things. Within no time people started calling him team captain and I like that, ’cause you need a good cop, bad cop in gyms. He adapts, that’s the thing. He adapts to people’s skills, adapts to people’s schedules, no big deal, it’s a standard thing, if you’re a fighter you get up and you do your work, right, so these guys start showing up at five thirty, going for their run, we would come in, next thing you know we had a big group of fighters here in the morning, by six, you know, we’re all training and stuff, so it was really, really good, a good Rocky moment, right? Later I found out that Justin was working ’till two in the morning the nights before we were doing this. I didn’t know that, I would have never asked him to come in, he didn’t have a fight, he didn’t have to be here and he had to be here later that day. And then him and I do privates at ten thirty like you just saw, and then he’s gonna be here that night, so we were pulling 14, 15 hour days of training, you know what I mean, when he was doing this. Had I known that, I would have told him “Justin, stay in bed man, you need your rest, don’t worry, I got some other guys I can work with”, but didn’t say anything, just did it. So, there’s just one of the many examples I mean by team captain. Just the ability to help.
– Who’s in? Let’s go, get on ’em right away.
– You know I talk, you know I’m a verbal guy, I lead, you know, with my mouth a little bit more than by example, I’m always preaching that I should lead more by example and sure, and I’m always here, but the thing though is that I never back away, I always come, I always show up, you know, I make myself available, I’m full-time. This is the first time now that I’ve had a guy that actually challenges that in me, he’s actually willing to be here more than me, I’ve never had somebody that’s spent more time at a gym than myself.
– [Voiceover] I have some time this afternoon ’cause I have the day off, so I’m gonna go visit my sister and my niece. Well, we’re just going to my sister’s house to visit my niece for like an hour or so in Nolan Hill, like the other end of the city from the gym. Took us like 40 minutes almost to drive from one end to the other on Deerfoot, where there’s no lights and we’re going 110 kilometers the whole way. You guys are in for a treat, I might be a little biased, but you guys are gonna probably see the cutest baby in the world right now. Yeah, they’re awesome, my sister, and my niece, and my brother-in-law, they’re pretty cool.
– Oh, who’s this? Making a scene for no reason.
– Justin as an uncle is very dedicated and caring, like he’ll make time inbetween practices or on the weekend after practices to get in his time with Gia, so it’s He really tries to make the time though, like he really works it in, like ’cause he does work. Actually, growing up our dad, we had a garage and instead of parking cars in the garage, he had bought a full size wrestling mat. So, it wasn’t just us, it was like a whole community thing, because all of the kids in the neighborhood knew that there was a wrestling match inside of our garage, so everyday was like a royal rumble inside the garage, so that kids just all over the neighborhood were popping in, there’s like stacks of shoes just everywhere all over the outside of the house and then you just hear like all these kids going to town wrestling in there. Okay so, Justin will probably get up super early, go to practice, work really hard, but what somebody doesn’t know is, he for the rest of the day eating desserts to make up for all the calories he’s probably lost throughout the day, sneak it in anywhere he can. He’ll find like half eaten chocolate bars like everywhere. Or the first thing he’ll do when he comes over is walk in, grab Gia, and then like go through the pantry and grab like a stash of chocolate or ice cream or something like that. So, he works super hard all day so that he could kinda eat what he wants to eat.
– He’ll be like “where’s mine?” Got a little recharge session from hangin’ out with my niece and my sister, now we’re headed back to practice. The second fight taught me a lot. It was against a guy named Jason Fournier, trained from PMA martial arts and the game plan was to stay in there and strike and I started working on my striking skill and develop the confidence in that in actual competition, ’cause in practice I don’t have a problem with it, I’m not the best at it, but I spar guys like Patrick Ward, Louis Witt, Kyle Messenger, and I, you know, for the most part I do alright and Louis and Patrick are, you know, high level strikers and I don’t use my wrestling until I have to and that was the game plan going into that one, you know, I didn’t think Jason could put me on the ropes or put me on the cage and put me in trouble or anything, but again like the nerves got to me and then right away I started wrestling right off the bat and my coaches, they were telling me to loosen up and start using my striking, but it is a big factor, and the more I compete and the more I train and the more I spar, you know, those nerves go away. The John fight, you know, compared to the first two, the first two, I think I threw a combined like two punches the whole fight and one knee, but the second one I opened up a lot more and wasn’t forcing those take outs, I could take all these guys out whenever I want if I force take downs, but the second one, I didn’t force anything, I set it up with a jab, an inside kick, and he backed up to the cage and, you know, if he’s in distance to the cage and I think I can take him down, of course I’m gonna. The biggest confidence booster was definitely the John Nguyen one, and it just proved to myself and, you know, all the striking I’ve been doing and the work I’ve been putting in, so it’s just made me more confident like that I can hang in there with like the guys that are proclaimed the best strikers in the division. No, I train hard and I don’t think, you know, if I have enough notice I don’t think anyone can get the better of me, I could take a fight on short notice and do just fine, I’m always just few days out of competition shape, but I don’t think any of these guys in the division can get the better of me. the three fights, the first round went the distance with Clay Dickson, second round was a submission with Jason Fournier, and then I got the first round knock out on Sean Nguyen just a couple months ago.
– [Voiceover] The win by knock out at two minutes and 20 seconds in the first round, a new Hard Knocks ametuer 125 pound champion,
– We’re back at Elite and Empower for a second session of the day. It’s gonna be a good one, we’ve got wrestling and muay thai.
– Actually, the very first time I met Justin was on the way to my first dual heart national dual championship. I ran into him on the C train there. Ever since I competed that tournament, I made a transition to the Rock wrestling club and we’ve just been teammates ever since. Justin literally picks me apart and he bullies me and he punishes me, but at the end of the day I understand that it’s tough love and in all honesty I’m just getting better from it. So, he’s a great mentor, he’s a great role model, and we’re just going to the top with it. He’s not just a wrestler anymore, from his previous fights that you have seen he has submitted guys, he has knocked out guys, and he has just simply out classed guys. So, it’s exciting to just see Justin excel in this sport overall. When my teammates compete in the sport of MMA and they have success, I believe that success is only gonna be passed down along to me.
– He’s the guy to push, you know, and you always learn something new, you can always pick his brain. He’s hard on you, but it’s in a positive way and he will always stop to tell you what you did wrong or to show you where you can improve, you know, he wants everyone here to be the best wrestler they can be.
– Handle the head, fake, front headlock. Let’s go Andrew, commit to something, that kid’s smaller than you.
– Justin improves so quickly all the time and it’s like everytime I think I got an edge, you know, whether it’s in the clinch, or a knee, or you know, a kick or something, you know, he comes to the gym the next week and he’s just as good. So, he’s a hard guy to keep up with and to stay ahead of, and I just do my best when I can.
– Rock FC, it’s a wrestling club based for senior male athletes and Mike Dunn is the head coach of it, he’s a really good head coach. After a couple years of training with him, I dropped down to 132, 132 pounds for the senior nationals and I think my second year in the weight class I got second and I haven’t placed under fourth since.
– As a wrestler, Basra, I’d consider two things: first, he works harder than everybody else in the country and he is incredibly self motivated, he researches things on his own, he picks up a lot of information on his own, I would call him a self made guy. As an athlete he takes it upon himself to get information on different positions that he needs to and he works on ’em on his own and he develops and adds ’em to the series that we already work with, so, you know, I’d consider Justin to be a student of wrestling and extremely hard worker. So, his hand is gonna end up doing. So, the hand that he holds with is gonna swing through at the end, so just watch his left hand as he swings through. He has to swing that left hand through We spend a lot of time together, I would consider him to be more of a friend now than anything else, you know, I do, you know, I would be considered a coach also and, you know, in our structure of our club, he’s my boss, I’m the coach and he’s my friend. So, we have lots of different layers, but at the end of the day we’ve formed a pretty good relationship and we talk about all kinds of things, you know, you become more of a life coach to these young guys than you do a wrestling coach, in the long run. I’m okay with the MMA piece, ’cause I think it certainly transfers into the wrestling, it’s not a break from wrestling so much, ’cause the training is very similar and I think it recharges him, it gives him, it is a break from wrestling, but not a break from wrestling situations and he’s always wrestling when he’s doing his MMA anyway. He’s a student of whatever he does, so I’m sure he would, the things he did for his wrestling would transfer over to MMA exactly the same way. I know he really likes it, I know he likes doin’ it, it keeps him in shape, he’s getting better at all the different aspects, he enjoys the striking, he enjoys the jiu jitsu, he likes the fighting, he’s always been a pretty feisty guy anyway, he’s never shied away from any sort of aggressive situation, so it’s quite fun for me to watch him have this outlet.
– [Voiceover] Finally done for the day, practice is all done, trained about six hours for the day, ready to go home and sleep.