Moving to MMA

You could file today’s post under “Trying something new”. It comes from my friend Brendan: fed up with the corporate grind, he took a page from Steve Jobs’ book of “Do what you love”, and made a career change. Along the way, he also got into the sport of MMA. Here he details his progression into the sport and some of his training ideas, along with how it helped his gym lifts. – Brian

A very wise man once stated to me that I “just needed to do it, not to talk about doing it,
but just f***ing do it.”

If that doesn’t speak to you about how to live life then I don’t know what does.

My post meathead/football career exported me to a financial firm where days consisted
of shares settling, leveraging foreign currency, and Far East markets. I gained 40lbs and
hated myself.

One year later I quit, went back into training, and started Office to Octagon Inc. on an
ideal with little to no direction.


Within three months I started Olympic lifting as a director at InnerCity Weightlifting
where I was fortunate enough to work with nationally ranked lifters and at risk youth in

By chance I was training someone who would later become a mentor figure. He served
as high-level management at a Fortune 100 and to this day eats, breaths, and sleeps
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

He introduced me to Kimura BJJ and by my third practice I was addicted and under
the instruction of Michael Fontes placed first or second in my first four competitions.
Everything in my training world was flipped upside down.

The whole concept of my strength training being compromised by overwhelming
amounts of aerobic activity was shattered. If anything, most of my lifts improved. In each
practice live fights take place, mostly towards the end after hundreds of repetitions of
particular techniques and positions. Fights range from 2-10 minutes and are balls to the
wall. The more I fought the stronger I became both mentally and physically.

In my first four months I went from 285 to 240, increased my strength, and grew a sweet
ass mustache. Friends of mine in the strength and conditioning world started to reach out
and ask questions about my training.

These are some of the evolving conclusions that I continue to work on.

Time under tension will increase aerobic and anaerobic capacity. I found this to be true
as a young lad moving furniture and interning/lifting at an athletic facility. After 8 to 12
hours of lugging heavy awkward objects up and down stairs, I would still be able to make
gains in the gym relative to copious amounts of time under tension and food.

So was the case with BJJ. I started to mimic fight rounds in my lifting programs by
picking a series of movements and performing a set number of reps, or over the course of predetermined time (Tabata). It was reminiscent of CrossFit but in a way safer, more
structured, and more specific to my sport. As I am sure the 70’s Big community knows,
specificity is key.

Placing emphasis on grip training in moving, training, and BJJ has and will continue
to pay dividends on all of my lifts and I highly encourage anyone and everyone to
incorporate grip work into all of their programming. If you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it.

Now back to how all of this began. Office to Octagon Inc. started out as my journey into
MMA via strength and conditioning and BJJ. Two years later my first amateur fight is set
for June 22nd.

The kicker is that I am putting the event together through OtoO and 20 other Boston
business types will also be competing, all while raising money for charity in the process.
Office to Octagon Inc. is now a 501(c)3 non-profit organization structured to allocate
funds to underprivileged youth obesity prevention initiatives, youth athletics, and youth
nutritional education services.

The art forms that make up MMA have all stood the test of time i.e. boxing, BJJ, Muay
Thai, wrestling, all the very things that we should be investing in and promoting to our
youth. They all embrace respect, discipline, adversity, and focus, exactly what the kids of
this country so desperately need.

In a time where the generations behind us now have a shorter life expectancy,, it is our duty to fight these odds literally and figuratively.

If you want to make positive changes and/or be good at anything you “just have to
f***ing do it”.

Brendan after his first BJJ fight

Brendan “Bonesaw” McKee is a CPT and CF-L1 trainer, and former NFL Europe athlete. He is currently the owner of, MFD Training, and a contributor. His passion lies in helping underprivileged youths, and sculpting his extraordinary mustache.