A Cambridge man known as “The Wanderer” in the mixed martial arts world is heading to Atlantic Canada for his next fight.
Gavin Costa will leave for New Glasgow, Nova Scotia on Thursday for a bout with fellow Canadian Brady MacDonald this Saturday. It will be Costa’s third fight and first on Canadian soil.
Costa’s love for mixed martial arts flourished later than most that are competing at a high level.
“When I was young my parents always tried to get me into karate and judo, but it never really stuck,” Costa said.
“I found when I was graduating high school I was getting more into boxing and mixed martial arts. I started going on more runs and my cardio really started to pick up.”
The path to his first amateur fight was also unconventional.
“I was friends with a match maker in Ohio and they asked me if I could be ready with a weeks notice to fight because they had someone drop out,” he said.
“I lost within a minute. I expected to be disappointed but it ended up being a great experience in learning how the process works. When you lose, it sets a fire inside of you, so that loss was really important.”
His second fight, also in Ohio, ended in a victory via triangle choke at 2:16 of the third round.
Now the 23-year-old Cambridge native is fully immersed in the sport and trains primarily out of MAS Muay Thai.
Being from Cambridge and training in the city is something Costa takes a great amount of pride in. He’s also excited to be able to finally fight at home.
“It’s an honour to represent Cambridge, I was born and raised here,” he said.
“I don’t even know how to describe the feeling of fighting in Canada. I’ve also never been out east so I’m really excited to get going.”
MMA is about a lot more than the sport itself for Costa. It’s helped him establish self-confidence and a desire to pursue his goals.
“I really struggled with self-confidence in high school,” he admitted.
“I feel like everybody goes through issues. If you can get over that hurdle you can reach your goals. I love working hard and the discipline that comes along with MMA.”
Costa won’t be the only person from Cambridge in Nova Scotia this weekend. His head cornerman Tjay Saunders also calls the city home. Saunders believes Costa is ready to step into the fighting spotlight.
“I don’t want to put too much of the game plan out there but we expect him to explode on the east coast scene with this fight,” Saunders said.
“He loves the sport. After every fight he improves exponentially. He has developed a new mindset which in turn has taken his training to the next level. I think he has the skills to do it as a career, it’s just about getting past that amateur hump.”
That amateur hump could be overcome out east this weekend. With a win, Costa has been told he may be able to begin fighting in Ontario as a professional.
The opportunity to fight as a pro is exciting, but Costa is trying to take his career one step at a time.
“I want to go out there, have fun, follow the game plan, learn while I’m on the job and obviously get the win,” he said.
“I don’t know what my end goal is yet, but I know I want to do something great.”