Redemption in a rematch: Nick Hrabec takes aim at Garret Nybakken at Unified 35

Dec 7, 2018

It’s been three years, six months, and a few days since Nick Hrabec and Garret Nybakken last fought. A first-round KO finish from the veteran Nybakken sent Hrabec to the canvas.

Destiny has them facing off one last time, as the two friends will rematch for the final fight of Nybakken’s MMA career tonight at Unified 35 at River Cree Resort & Casino. He’s already committed to retiring after tonight’s bout, but don’t expect Hrabec to surrender in honour of his opponent.

He’s spent the past four weeks training with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. A gym where fighters such as Cody Garbrandt, Urijah Faber, and Chad Mendes have all made famous. A permanent move there appears imminent.

“I’ve been going there for the last four years. There and back, once or twice a year for a camp,” Hrabec says on the eve of Unified 35. I will be going for a visa in 2019.”

Training with such accomplished athletes seems to have done wonders for “The Savage,” as he’s now ready to build off of a two-fight win streak and redeem a previous loss simultaneously. His confidence shows through his voice, as he responds using adjectives like “awesome” and “amazing” to describe his current skill sets, and his progress. It is also evident in his general outlook on fighting and his place in it- now and in the future.

“It’s been amazing. No injuries and I’m healthy, ready to put on a show. I’ve had good rounds in with (UFC fighters) Rick Glenn, Andre Fili, Cody Garbrandt, all the guys there.”

While asking Hrabec how he’s approaching this rematch with Nybakken, he mentioned, “There is no specific gameplan. I feel like I’m more skillful than him everywhere the fight goes. I felt that I was winning our last fight, but got caught with an overhand. I’m ready to make a statement.

“Now I know how to utilize my range. That was the biggest thing as I was coming up, that I wasn’t doing. Now I have that control and it’s going to be very hard for these 155ers. And wrestling at Little Sweatshop and Team Alpha Male with all of these killers — it’s put me outside my comfort zone.”

Hrabec has been making sacrifices, not working full-time since his first pro fight.

“Bartending, working at gyms, fitness kickboxing — I’ve been taking part-time jobs to make extra cash, so that I can train full-time and take this sport seriously.

“Shane Campbell was a huge role model for me growing up. He was my first coach. I aspire to be like him, Faber and all of those guys (at Team Alpha Male). Seeing how they’ve evolved and become great businessmen and ambassadors of the sport has been really inspiring.”

Tonight, Hrabec will try to move a step closer to the path set forth by his aforementioned role models.

“Two hometown guys (himself and Nybakken). We’ve fought before and there’s lots of hype around this matchup. It’s gonna be fun fight,” Hrabec says, smiling. “It should be the fight of the night.”

By Christopher Barnard (@cbarnard82)