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.

30 thoughts on “Moving to MMA

  1. Wow, Brendan, this is awesome. Even more exciting considering I live in Boston, will definitely plan on attending the Fight Night.

    While we’re on the topic of Boston 70sbig-related non-profits, a profile of Innercity Weightlifting might also make for great content. From what I’ve seen it’s a pretty unique and awesome program.

    • I perform a lot of single arm and single leg work as it is much more relevant to BJJ. Strong mobile hips are critical so I attack that often as well. I try to roll/fight as much as possible. Feel free to email me if you have any questions/want more info,

  2. Bloody inspiring. The past couple months I’ve gotten some pretty good training in boxing and believe you me it’s the most difficult sport I’ve tried. I’ve moved to a new area with a great mma gym. I’m very excited to grow a much as I can in mma.

    • Boxing is incredible. It can be an entirely different tempo to that of BJJ depending on what an individual’s game is like. Congrats on the move and good luck with everything training and MMA related!

  3. In! Not sure what the meetup would entail but I’m down. Wll increase walks, holds, TUT, and awkward overhead lifts in preparation.

    By the way, awesome fucking video. Great job Brendan. Football to office to mat. Excellent and I wish I found it when I was in my twenties.

    I’ve driven by the Kimura gyms a bunch of times (Watertown, is there one in Southie?) and wondered what mysteries lay within. Looks like some great shit.

    • Thank you sir! You should definitely stop by Kimura. Michael Fontes heads and teaches everyday in the South Boston branch and also has a no-gi class on Tuesday and Thursday at Union Gym. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions/want more details, Cheers!

  4. Sick sick sick. I also discovered BJJ about a year ago, and addicting is the only word to describe it. I have never been so happy to be continually choked unconscious in a 2 hour period.

    Except Thailand. Either way- awesome story.

    • Thank you! Chokes are sweet either way. Glad to hear you are as passionate about BJJ as I am. In the next 10-20 years some form of martial arts should be offered in every public school in America.

  5. First off… AWESOME ‘STACHE. I am growing the goatee as long as is tolerable by my wife.

    Second… I work with at risk youth everyday as a teacher in an alternative school and I just want to thank you for caring for, working with, and helping these kids. They can be challenging, but it is well worth it. I am strongman competitor and I know that these kids are thrilled to have a male role model, hell any role model, to look up to that is both physically powerful and has powerful ethnics and morals. I show them videos of me training and competing and they get so excited. I actually have one student (16 yrs old in the 7th grade) who from seeing my videos and through lifting, has finally decided he needs to pick himself up and move forward to better himself. Also, being large and scary looking keeps the discipline issues (the reason they are at my school along with criminal activity) to a minimum.

    So again, THANK YOU for being there for kids who have been lost and ignored by most everyone in their lives and helping them to realize that there are people who care and want them to succeed AND that there are wonderful things in this life that make it worth living right!

    • Thank you sir! There needs to be as many people as possible like yourself in our school systems. You make our youth better each day.

  6. This was real cool but felt kinda rushed?

    In the future it would be AWESOME if he went into more detail about starting in the sport. How he trains people / trains himself (details!).

    Maybe even try and appeal to why lifters/athletes from other sports would benefit from various parts of MMA in their training. Even if they have no desire to BJJ/Muay Thai/Box/Wrestle full time. (like choking out a hater seems like a cool skill to have)

    Maybe a video or two showing one of your favorite BJJ techniques you use a lot in your competitions.

    Or even how to plan and attempt your first MMA/grappling tournament!

    Great article, nice to see some MMA infused into the sight.
    As someone who’s balancing MMA, strength training, dad-ness X2, and an epic beard, I find the biggest struggle is just making your limited free time to train work for you.

    Do you have any insight on how to balance your MMA training with your off the mat training? I’ve found that training for grappling tournaments/thai fights means a bit of a trade off when it comes to outside training, especially if you’re getting banged up when rolling/sparring.

    Shrimpin’ ain’t easy.

    • I train as specific as possible. Approaching tournaments I fight as often as I can. In the gym I pick a series of movements and perform them for 3-12 minute rounds. Throughout the day I perform bodyweight movements to wake my system up, i.e. body squats, pull-ups, push-ups etc… Consistency is key. Even if I can’t find time to go to BJJ practice and fight, I still go through ball work and BJJ drills, especially “Shrimpin”…

  8. I loved your commercial!!! As someone who rides a desk all day and has Office Space moments on a regular basis, I can really identify with your smashing up that fucking phone! My printer actually gave me a “PC LOAD LETTER” error the other day, even though it was full of paper. What the fuck does that mean?! Hahaha

    Also, great job helping out those kids! I worked at the equivalent of a halfway house for 14-17 year old kids while in college in Baltimore (sort of a semi-jail for kids who have multiple offenses on juvenille records and no home to speak of). If you’ve seen season 4 of the Wire, you know what I’m talking about. I taught sex ed, which was both informative and hilarious at times. I actually had to make a point to tell some kids that Dr. Pepper douching is not an effective method of birth control. That is not a joke. It’s incredible what a difference one person can make. A lot of kids just need some basic guidance. Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck!!!

    • Thank you for your feedback. Sex ed is certainly a critical topic among this demographic. Babies having babies needs to be mitigated as much as possible. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.

  9. Thanks for the cool post and the awesome work you’re doing!

    The article and subsequent comments are pretty relevant given that I have been lifting heavy and trying to improve the lifts, am moving to the Boston area, and want to get into either boxing or BJJ. I’d be pumped to join a martial arts gym with a squat rack and some plates. Does one exist up there? (judging by your video, it might…??)