It takes a lot of self-confidence, courage and a whole lot of passion to follow your dreams. How often during a long day at work do you think about what you really want to be doing with your life?

Picture walking out of your job right now. Picture packing your bags with the intention of boarding the next flight that you can.

After spending eight years with the Australian Armed services, Gokhan Turkyilmaz made a life-changing decision. It’s not easy to pack everything up and start on a journey like he has, especially with the arduous life of a professional fighter, but for Turkyilmaz it’s a decision that has changed his life for the better.

“I really wanted a change of lifestyle and really wanted to get away from having to worry about that daily grind of working a job,” he said in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Right now, I’m living the dream. It might not be the ‘dream dream,’ but it’s something that I want. Now, I am moving over to Phuket Top Team, and that’s going to be the next part of the journey.”

Sometimes a fighter is lucky enough to see the inside of a cage or a ring three times a year, and that is considered a steady and acceptable pace. On Oct. 26, Turkyilmaz is staring down the barrel of his sixth fight in 2013. His fights have taken place in various locations around the world, and fighting as many times as possible in 2013 was firmly implanted in his mind.

“I’ve just gotta keep active, you know,” Turkyilmaz said. “I don’t work; [fighting] is what I do. This year’s goal was to be as active as possible, and I did that. I wanted to travel the world and compete against the best fighters out there, and I am happy with how things have gone.

“I’m really hoping to get over to Brazil or America next. To train and to fight there is my ultimate goal. Everywhere I have gone so far, people have opened their doors for me to train with them, so I am really hoping for the same [over there].”

With three of his last four fights taking place outside of Australia, it’s a welcomed change for Turkyilmaz to be fighting back where his career began. Fighting in what he considers his closest hometown from professional aspect, he is understandably excited about making his return to the BRACE cage.

“Usually, the atmosphere for shows doesn’t worry me because I have been fighting everywhere. It’s not something that I even think about,” he said. “This will be different. I love the atmosphere in Townsville and I feed off that. It’s going to be a great show, and people are always excited for the fights. I had my first fight in Townsville for BRACE at middleweight [laughs]. The crowd there is always awesome.”

Turkyilmaz steps into the cage in the BRACE 23 main event against seasoned veteran Kevin Manderson, who has competed a total of 30 times professionally. Turkyilmaz is nearing 20 professional fights himself; however, Manderson boasts almost 10 years of experience in the sport.

“I only look at records as a number,” Turkyilmaz admitted. “I think that he is past his time, and I’m looking to make him retire [laughs]. I know where I fucked up in my last fight and I am not going to let that happen again. I’m going to finish this one, and it’s going to be a KO or TKO. I’m always looking for the KO and if it’s there I am going to take it.

“I want to show the improvements in my handwork since my last few fights. I am trying to implement everything I have learned in my traveling. I have learned from the mistakes I made in previous fights, and I think that everything about my game has gotten better.”

Turkyilmaz is the best example of a fighter who is ever evolving. No matter where in the world he drops his bag, he is always seeking out new opportunities. To a degree, a career outside of mixed martial arts can only take someone to so many places around the world. Turkyilmaz being able to do what he does has meant that he can forever wave goodbye to the possibility of a “normal” work life. What is now normal to him is but a dream for so many others.

Turkyilmaz would like to thank FACAA (Fighters Against Child Abuse Australia), FTP Clothing, Jaco Clothing, Elite Tattoo, Cage Rebel, Shogun MMA, Phuket Pro Nutrition, Phuket Top Team and a special thanks to his manager Ben Livingstone. Follow Turkyilmaz on Twitter: @Gpt86

Photo: Gokhan Turkyilmaz (top) rains punches on his opponent (NItro MMA)

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.