Mentality of a fighter: Southampton’s Nate Ghareeb prepping for MMA fight at Mohegan Sun

MMA amateur Nate Ghareeb enters Saturday’s bout at Mohegan Sun calm, prepared for anything

  • Aspiring mixed martial arts fighter and former Hampshire Regional High School wrestler Nate Ghareeb, of Southampton, right, trains with the help of Stephen Pinard, of Easthampton, Wednesday at Jon Manley MMA in Easthampton. Ghareeb is fighting at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday night. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aspiring mixed martial arts fighter and former Hampshire Regional High School wrestler Nate Ghareeb, of Southampton, wraps his hands before training Wednesday at Jon Manley MMA in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Former Hampshire Regional High School wrestler Nate Ghareeb, of Southampton, right, trains Wednesday for his MMA fight at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aspiring mixed martial arts fighter and former Hampshire Regional High School wrestler Nate Ghareeb, of Southampton, right, practices a kick with the help of Stephen Pinard, of Easthampton, Wednesday at Jon Manley MMA in Easthampton. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aspiring mixed martial arts fighter and former Hampshire Regional High School wrestler Nate Ghareeb, of Southampton, has "Meant for Greatness' tattooed on his left foot. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 1/4/2018 8:28:13 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Nate Ghareeb recently switched his pre-bout walkout music for his last two fights.

The 24-year-old mixed martial artist used to enter the arena with Maino and T-Pain’s “All the Above” bumping. Now, he plays “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by the Hollies.

Changing that song has shifted his mentality.

“It brought out a different character. I was more intense,” said Ghareeb, a 2012 Hampshire Regional graduate. “I wasn’t losing that night. There was no way. I was ready to brawl.”

He’ll use the same music Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, when he fights Springfield’s Matt Bienia on a Reality Fighting card. They’re fighting at 155 pounds for the promotion’s amateur lightweight title.

The doors open at 6 p.m. and grappling starts at 7 p.m. The first MMA fight should begin at 8:30 p.m. There are six fights before Ghareeb enters the cage with Bienia. Tickets are available on Mohegan Sun’s website and range from $45-$70.

Ghareeb linked up with the promotion after watching his coach Jon Manley fight for them. Ghareeb wants to build his amateur resume and fight for bigger promotions. Manley connected Ghareeb to the promoter, who he contacted through Facebook. Reality Fighting checked out his background and set up the fight.

It will be the latest step in a 3½-year journey that has taken Ghareeb all around the world honing his craft. He holds a 5-1 record as an amateur and has trained as close as Northampton and as far as Thailand to become a better martial artist.

“I consider myself an entertaining fighter. I don’t go out there to run around,” Ghareeb said. “I don’t go out there to grapple and hold them down. I want to stand up and strike.”

Bienia enters the match with a 4-0 record and a jiujitsu background. Ghareeb expects him to try and take the fight to the ground.

“He’s tough. He comes forward,” Ghareeb said. “The good news with having the experience I do now for training as long as I have, is you have to stay calm.”

Ghareeb, a former high school and college wrestler, began serious MMA training the summer before his junior year at West Virginia University, where he transferred after two years at Springfield College. He started at TeamLink Northampton before leaving for Morgantown. There, he tried boxing before joining a muay thai club.

He had his first couple fights in West Virginia, winning both on consecutive weekends in April 2016. Ghareeb has fought MMA and muay thai, and has fought in West Virginia, Connecticut and Vermont.

He plans to counter Bienia’s aggressiveness with movement.

“These guys want to knock you out because they want to get it over with,” Ghareeb said. “I like to be calm. It’s using that advantage to move and finding my openings to pick away at him.”

Despite entering the fight with a plan, Ghareeb knows that can go out the window as quickly as the cage door closes. He’ll lean on his experience and versatility to adapt to the situation as it unfolds.

“Some people are going to say, ‘I’m going to do this to this guy,’ They’re lying to you,” Ghareeb said. “You can never tell. That’s my thing, be prepared.”

He practices visualization and tries to envision how the fight will go. In his mind, Saturday will end with a submission.

“I keep seeing him want to go the ground because he doesn’t want to strike,” Ghareeb said. “I’ve envisioned myself dominating and putting a lot of pressure on the ground. I see the victory coming by submission, but I wouldn’t put it past me to stop him by strikes.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.



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