/Trading Blows: MMA’s Influence in the NHL

Trading Blows: MMA’s Influence in the NHL

Trading Mitts


There has been an ongoing debate about fighting in the sport of hockey for a long time. Both sides make great points about why it should and shouldn’t be allowed. Some call it barbaric, unbecoming and atrocious. While the other side makes an argument toward its heritage and its place in the game.

Hockey fans seem to enjoy the fights and the momentum swings that it can bring to a game. If your team is down by three with a period left it’s not uncommon to see two players drop the gloves and hope they can spark the fire that ignites their teammates to victory. If a star player gets injured or there’s too much chopping at your goalie, one could expect a scrap to blossom.

Fighting also seems to have an unwritten set of rules. Things like no sucker punches, stopping when a player hits the ice and staying within your weight class. A heavyweight veteran shouldn’t be fighting a small rookie. This set of gentleman’s code isn’t in any book. You can’t go into a hockey front office and pull out the fighters guide to safe fights. There is an understanding to the fisticuffs that most players seem to know. But what happens when a hockey player decided to take the fight from the ice to the cage?

Stepping Into A Different Fight

#87 Donald Brashear

Some hockey tough guys have tried their hand at Mixed Martial Arts. MMA training is starting to slide into the world of hockey. Ottawa Senators goalie Mike Condon has been using it as a way of conditioning to help recreate the stress of a game. Former player Riley Cote also showed interest in MMA training and Brazilian jiu-jitsu while still remaining active in the hockey world. He wanted to improve his style of play to make sure that his hands were ready for what his opponents were bringing. While they may not be training to break into the realm of MMA, others have decided to take off their hockey gloves and replace them with fighting gloves. Former NHL player Donald Brashear made his MMA debut on June 4th 2011 fighting at Ringside MMA 11 in the heavyweight division. Brashear defeated Mathieu Bergeron via TKO in :21 seconds of the first round. This was Brashear’s first and only MMA fight. While he hasn’t made a giant splash in the MMA world, his debut was anticipated by fans of MMA whom also enjoyed hockey.

Another former hockey player turned mixed martial artist is Steve “The Boss” Bosse. With a record of 12 wins and 2 losses, Bosse has arguably had more success in the cage than he has had on the ice. Bosse, while playing hockey, started to train boxing to improve his effectiveness as an enforcer on the ice. Playing for the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (NAHL) he rose to be very popular with the fans of the Quebec based semi-profession league. In 2007 he made his professional MMA debut defeating David Frasier via TKO in the first round at TKO 29. Amassing a 10-1 record he made his jump to the UFC in 2015. Riding an eight fight win streak before entering the UFC’s octagon, Bosse was poised to bust into their light heavyweight division. Unfortunately he experienced a quick night as he was knocked out quickly in the first round. Since, he has recovered and has won his last two UFC contests. Bosse is still waiting on another fight in the UFC but rest assured it will be a great match.


Getting A Grip

With the rising popularity of the UFC and MMA, disciplines such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu are becoming more common place in sports. Improving strength and conditioning can not only aide the tough guys but the skilled ones as well. The stamina and the flexibility that come with Brazilian jiu-jitsu training are bound to help improve a team’s star center as they move between defenders to score a go-ahead goal. While it’s still early in the popularity,  MMA and it’s crossover training into hockey and other sports is making an impact on the players. Whether it’s the player who fights to get their team going or a skilled dangle to beat the goalie, MMA training maybe have a hold on hockey. Not all aspects of combat sports will make their way into the sport but the disciplines and the regimens are already making a difference. The science of MMA training grows everyday and with it so does hockey training.



Jim McBride is the “Beyond the Ice” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can contact him at jmcbride@gnghockey.com.



Jim McBride is a Contributing Writer for Good Night Good Hockey. He also loves dogs. Note: He is not this dog. The primary way of contacting Jim is at this email: jmcbride@gnghockey.com.