The term “garage band” has been around for decades. It is a scenario that a lot of amateur musicians will experience. It’s all about a band practicing together in the confines of a family garage to one day aspire to be on the big stage. It’s kind of a natural progression in the music industry. A “garage fighter” though? It’s something that is not seen all that often.

However, that is exactly how Greg “The Tarantula” Atzori prepares for his fights—of which he has had 17 total over a five-year period.

Greg Atzori (Scott Clark/Sherdog)

Atzori lives in the coastal town of Hervey Bay, which is a 290-kilometer (180-mile) drive north of Queensland’s MMA heartland of Brisbane. This limits his ability to consistently train with the country’s best fighters. With limited gyms and classes to attend in his area, Atzori has been forced to adapt in order to continue to be the best fighter possible.

Atzori splits his training up between the Hervey Bay branch of Integrated MMA, Street Smart Thai Boxing Centre and, of course, his very own training center.

“I train out of my garage a lot,” Atzori revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I do a lot of my own drills and strength and conditioning there. Having a full-time job, sometimes it’s extremely hard to have a balance between training and work.

“I wake up most mornings at 5 a.m. to train, and a lot of my training is done on my own. I don’t mind it too much because in reality when you are in the cage, you are on your own too. I have to push myself in training by myself and do the same thing in the cage. Sure, you have a coach and teammates in your corner when you fight, but in the end it’s all up to you.”

In order to continually evolve as a fighter, Atzori knows the importance of branching out and traveling to train. Some of the best fighters in Australia train in Brisbane, a three-hour drive away. So, when Atzori does make the trek to train, he makes the most of it.

“When I go away to train, it makes a big difference,” he explained. “When I am sparring with guys like Adrian Pang, I have to react the same way as I would in a fight. It’s a high-pressure situation, and when I train with these guys I feel myself getting better.”

A nickname like “The Tarantula” doesn’t exactly spring to mind when you see Atzori. It also has no association with a love for spiders. The name instead was coined by an Australian UFC veteran.

“Elvis Sinosic was commentating on one of my early fights and he said I had the reach of a tarantula,” Atzori laughed. “I didn’t mind about the name too much. I didn’t really have one and I always thought if one came along and stuck, I would keep it, so here we are now.”

Greg Atzori (top) battles Terry Balboa (Facebook/GregAtzoriMMA)

Both Atzori and his opponent for BRACE 20, Sonny Brown, are coming off losses. Brown heads into the fight with back-to-back losses behind him and Atzori has come up short in three of his last four. Both men have come across some of Australia’s best lightweights in their defeats and are hungry to get their careers back on track.

“It means he is going to be aggressive,” Atzori predicted. “I think there will be a big difference in him in this fight. I think he will push the pace, which is what I love—a fast-paced fight. Sonny didn’t get where he is by being a pushover. It should be a good fight.”

With BRACE now being part of the ONE FC network, it opens up the doors for fighters who compete on the promotion’s shows to have the chance to break into the Asian MMA market.

“It’s a huge dream of mine to fight overseas,” Atzori said. “There is huge potential with BRACE now. I really admire how much Kya [Pate, BRACE CEO] does for the sport. He has his heart in it and he has the fighter’s interests at heart. I am looking forward to fighting for BRACE now and in the future.”

Making the three-hour journey to Brisbane on May 25, Atzori knows just how much is on the line when he faces the former BRACE lightweight champion, Sonny Brown. A victory would see him cementing his name amongst some of Australia’s best lightweight fighters, and a loss? It will be back to the garage, to fight another day.

Greg would like to thank Meat Axe Thread Ware and Nutrition Underground. Follow Atzori on Twitter: @GregAtzori. Follow BRACE on Twitter: @BRACEMMA

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.