Libraries house shelves upon shelves of books. There are always people walking around, looking for something that will challenge them. They are yearning to quench their thirst for knowledge. For a mixed martial artist, their library is the gym.

Academics read textbooks and study for hours on end in order to be at the top of their chosen field. For a mixed martial artist like Brendon Katz, the books are replaced by a mat and the hours of studying are accompanied by bruises and gallons of sweat. For every ache and pain, and through the exhaustion, Katz is gaining something far more valuable than just the thrill of fighting.

“I found a love for MMA when I was about 17, before there was any significant professional MMA here [in South Africa],” Katz admitted to The MMA Corner. “I think competition is important for developing and testing your real ability in a setting where it’s safe to assume your opponent will not be holding back, and so I started competing. One thing led to another, and now we are here. This is my purpose and my direction. The time, the place, everything just worked out.

“I love every bit of it—the training, the discipline. Ultimately, martial arts are about development of the character, of the spirit of a person. The only time things really change, whether it be with training or dieting, is in the last week before a weigh-in. Other than that, every day is a day to get better.”

With a career that has spanned over five years, Katz has seen a lot, both in and out of the cage. The best thing about being a professional competitor is that there is an unlimited possibility as to what can go down in a bout. Sure, fighters go in with a general idea of what is going to take place, but the best thing about the sport is that anything can happen. Katz has had his fair share of this mixed martial arts cliché.

“I’ve been blessed with a lot of memorable stuff. When I fought Costa Iannou, I realized just how deep the well goes. I remember thinking, ‘When will this guy knock me out already?’ and yet my body kept moving, kept keeping me safe, and kept attacking,” Katz recalled. “I was losing the fight against Mark Jones, and I put him away with one clean uppercut with five or so seconds left in the last round. I was booed against Danny Lawson in the UK when I walked out to the cage. I beat him up solidly, lost a decision and heard the audience booing the judges’ decision.

“Most recently, I dropped Gareth Buirski with a straight right, and instead of finishing him I shouted to him, ‘Welcome to the real world, bitch!’ In the very next exchange, he caught me with a hook and I landed on my ass, and he said, ‘Welcome to the real world!’ [laughs].”

With the good that comes from a career in competing in combat sports, there is also the bad. The sport itself is only just starting to make headway in South Africa, and there is still a little bit of educating that needs to take place for supporters and competitors alike.

“I was sitting in a shopping center a few weeks ago, and I saw a man with a beer belly wearing one of those T-shirts with the skulls and the crosses and the uber-douchebaggy design. He was walking around like he was the man, with some woman I can only assume was a prostitute on his arm. That’s my least favorite thing. I know a lot of very dangerous people, and they are the nicest people you will meet until the line gets crossed,” Katz explained. “The posers and the douchebags that think they are tough because they train MMA, who have completely forgotten what the martial arts are about, really bother me. I don’t like the people who are drawn to MMA because of the violence—the people who scream stuff like ‘Kill him!’ They are less than dirt to me.

“Every master that I train with does what they do because they love it. They are passionate and pursue the art as an end in itself. It’s easy to get up at 5 a.m. when you are looking forward to train, and not because you want to win some jewelry or have something to prove to the world.

“I’d be doing what I do if there was no pay and fights were in someone’s garage, with no lights, no camera. It’s a blessing I can pursue my passion as a profession, and I’m grateful for that. And I am grateful too for the fans who appreciate a solid display of skills, who enjoy a good contest and who can appreciate the art for itself.”

On May 1, Katz enters the EFC Africa cage again, this time against undefeated Barend Nienaber. Katz, the more experienced fighter, is also coming off a win from his last EFC Africa appearance.

“I feel great. I work with world-beating coaches and training partners, so I think I’m playing the game at a level most guys don’t even know exists,” Katz exclaimed. “I wasn’t happy with my [last] performance. I guess when you have two counter punchers fighting, it’s never going to be great. It highlighted a hole in my game, and I’ve been working diligently to plug it. Don’t blink.”

With the next “practical examination” on the horizon for Katz’s development as a martial artist, you can be sure that he plans on showing just how much he has studied for his exam. His library has been a place of development for him for years now, and his time in the EFC Africa cage will be just another lesson in his life-long quest for knowledge.

Brendon would like to thank his wife and family, his team (Tapout Academy, Durandt’s Boxing, SMA, Lance the Master Blaster, Rodney and Steve and his mental conditioning coach Doron Geber), Pitbull Energy Drink and Adidas Sport. Katz adds, “We are literally the sum of our parts, and as a fighter, these are the people who make up the parts I am the sum of.” Follow Katz on Twitter: @katzmma

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.