There is a saying that suggests that you should not judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. As far as the behind-the-scenes experiences and lead-up to a mixed martial arts event, no statement can be truer.

A lot of fighters will dabble in various coaching positions when they are not competing inside the cage. It makes sense as a natural progression for when the time comes to call it a day in the sport that they love.

Kevin Manderson doesn’t just help out in a coaching role. He also has a much bigger involvement in the sport of MMA when he is not donning the gloves himself.

“I work with the New South Wales Combat Sports Authority, and, because of that, I can’t take fights in New South Wales, because it would be a conflict of interest,” Manderson explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Working in that side of the sport is something I really enjoy, and it’s a good way to stay involved in the sport. I work in the sanctioning side of things, where we’ll do the taping of the gloves and handing the score sheets in after fights. It’s mainly the overseeing of the events.

Manderson (Andy Cotterill/Sherdog)

“There is going to come a day when I am going to have to stop fighting, so having something that allows me to stay involved and help the sport develop is great. And the only way to grow the sport is to have a good regulatory body.”

Manderson finds himself in the main event of BRACE 23, where he will face Gokhan Turkyilmaz in what is set to be BRACE’s first event that is live streamed around the globe in the promotion’s partnership with epicentre.tv. After competing just once in a four-year period, Manderson would seem the unlikely candidate for the headlining spot, but it’s just another day at the office for the 30-fight veteran.

“I have main-evented a few times before when I was fighting back home,” Manderson said. “It’s nice to know that they think I am good enough to be on the show, and I am looking forward to the fight. A lot of guys at work get excited about me fighting, and since it’s a little far away, it’s good that they are going to be able to watch it. Also, some of the people back home that I keep in contact with will be excited to see me fight, so that’s gonna be great.”

Over his 10-year tenure of competition, Manderson has seen some tough opponents, some of which have gone on to seek glory with the UFC. Notably, he fought UFC lightweight title contender T.J. Grant and holds a victory over UFC alum Jordan Mein.

“[I see] those fights as being a good thing and a bad thing,” he admitted. “Officially, I am 3-3 against UFC guys, so I haven’t done too badly. You know, it’s always in the back of your head that you were knocking on the door of the big show, but I have no regrets. I am happy with what I have done, and I am happy with where I am in life. I have a great house right in front of the beach, I love my gym, I have a great wife and I train everyday, and I am still really competitive.”

Whereas Manderson has been quiet over the last four years, Turkyilmaz, come Oct. 26, will have fought a total of five times over a 14-week period.

“I used to be like that,” Manderson admitted. “I mean, back in ’07, I fought like nine or 10 times. I’ve done all of that before, and he might have been busier, but that doesn’t really mean much. I’m happy with my skill set in there, and I think it’s going to be a really good fight. Anytime I am not fighting in Canada, it’s going to be someone else’s hometown. And I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people there to cheer him on, but hopefully I can go in there and beat the hometown boy.”

After his extended layoff and successful return to action, Manderson looks forward to the opportunity to get back into fighting regularly again. With every win, the likelihood of his travel from New South Wales to compete professionally becomes more and more likely. Although he has his post-career involvement in the sport pretty well confirmed, that desire to continue to compete still burns deep within him. It’s evident that this 10-year veteran of the sport is still happy to call the inside of the cage his home.

Manderson would like to thank Sports Master. He would also like to extend his thoughts and prayers to Mario and his family.

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.