“All Dae.”

Those are the hours for “King” Dane Mulivai’s gym.

As soon as the kids are tucked into bed, he opens his garage door, and it’s time to train. It doesn’t matter how late it is. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day he has had. The gym is always open. Once those gloves are on his hands, he works away at his heavy bag, and the transformation from father to fighter occurs.

Mulivai’s next test as a fighter lies inside the Combat8 cube, where he faces Daniel Kerr for the Combat8 welterweight title. It’s yet another chance to show the world that not every fighter needs a big gym to be a success and that, above all, heart and determination will win fights.

“I’m confident going into this one. The guy is no pushover, and he’s had something like over 100 fights, and he is a gold medalist in taekwondo,” Mulivai explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “He’s more of a kicker, though, which is something that isn’t allowed in Combat8, so I am confident with my hands. Hopefully his feet get glued to the mat, though [laughs]. I don’t take anyone lightly, but I am going in there knowing I can beat him.

“The last time I fought in Combat8, it was in Newcastle, and the build-up for the show was just awesome. I went in there against a local guy from Newcastle and I beat him, and I expected the crowd to start throwing bottles at me after it [laughs]. It was all good, though, and people were coming up and shaking my hand and stuff after the fight.”

With the majority of his training taking place in his garage, sometimes Mulivai cops criticism that he isn’t taking his passion for fighting seriously.

“I won an Australian title from training in my garage,” he exclaimed. “My results speak for themselves. I don’t need any fancy clothes or some gym to go to. Fuck that. My garage won that belt. All I need is my bag and my gloves and I am set. I just let people talk about what I can and I can’t do. I do my talking in the ring, and so far nobody has been able to shut me up.

“I am doing a bit of training in a gym now, but it doesn’t change anything. If you look at what I have done from just training in my garage, then you better watch out once I’ve been training at a proper gym for a while [laughs].”

In his eagerly anticipated MMA debut, Mulivai fought 17-fight veteran Jay Cobain. Having a predominantly striking-based background, Mulivai’s real test was going to be in how he would fare if the fight was to go to the ground.

“A lot of people were saying that I wouldn’t be able to nullify his wrestling,” Mulivai explained. “I would have wrestled in the street if I had to. I knew what I needed to work on. I did the training that was needed for that and went in there and did exactly what I needed to do to win, which was land one on his chin [laughs].”

Traveling is the one aspect of being a professional competitor that Mulivai has publicly suggested that he doesn’t like. Taking fights all across the country, wherever they pop up, means that he is often flying out of his native Brisbane in order to compete. It’s a necessary evil, and it’s one he still won’t be able to come to terms with no matter what heights his fighting career takes him to.

“It’s hard being away from my family,” he admitted. “Usually, when I fight, I try and make it so that I can fly out the day before. It’s hard, though, because a lot of the promotions want me there a couple of days earlier just so they know everything is going to be all good. But I just wanna fly in and fly out. All I want is my couple of minutes inside the ring, and then I wanna get back to my family.”

Competing in so many different varieties of combat sports—and doing pretty well at them all—isn’t something to which many professional fighters can attest. Mulivai has notched up nine professional wins from nine bouts and has won eight of those by stoppage. His love of competing fuels him, and whilst there are many doors open to him, he hasn’t quite decided which path of combat sports he will follow.

“Winning the Australian K-1 title was a pretty big box for me to tick,” he admitted. “I just love to compete, and all I am doing is going in there and doing the best that I can. Next year, I think I will just look at one discipline and focus on that, but at the moment I just enjoy getting in there.

“No matter what happens, whether I win or I lose, I just go in there knowing I’ve done all that I can. I want the whole country to know that I am the best fighter around, and I want everyone to know that I am going in there every time giving it my all.”

The success in combat sports that Mulivai has built from his garage is something that some athletes would have to invest thousands of dollars in to be able to replicate. It doesn’t always take an elite training facility to create a champion, though, and Mulivai is a testament to that. Now, he once again finds himself on the cusp of securing a title belt in Australian combat sports. This “King” can never have too many crowns.

Dane would like to thank Staunch Supplements, Cross City Fit Gym, Infinity BJJ and Team ALL-DAE. Follow Mulivai on Facebook.

Photo: “King” Dane Mulivai (Facebook)

  • Toa Samoa

    All Dae uso! good to see that your Humble and respectful to the game.
    All the best for the future. AllDae Tama Toa