He just turned 17, but the metamorphosis of Marco Viedas the martial artist and MMA up and comer is already well under way.
Marco was 11 when he signed up with the Parksville Taekwondo Academy, and over the course of the past five years has shown the commitment and determination it takes to succeed in any sport, in any discipline.
He has been a member of the local dojang’s competitive sparring team for the past four years and competed on the national stage twice. He won three bouts and made it to the quarterfinals at this year’s Canadian taekwondo championships.
Fast forward to May 28/29 and Marco made his debut in the Senior Men’s division at the West Coast Can Am Championships played out at the Richmond Oval. This was Marco’s first year competing in the Senior Mens division (18 and up). He went into the CanAms having won his weight class in Juniors the last two years running in Muay Thai.
In keeping with the game plan, this year’s CanAm saw him competing in the 70 kg Sanshou division. Sanshou is an ancient form of martial art best described as kickboxing with takedowns.
“It’s a huge event. He was fighting in the seniors division and in Sanshou for the first time — he was fighting men — and he just pounded them,” said PTA master Brett Fee.
Marco, who is wrapping up his Grade 11 year at Ballenas Secondary School, had three bouts at the CanAms, and he won them all. His first fight on May 28 was a TKO in the opening round.
“Just a flurry of kicks and punches,” Marco shrugged easily when asked how the win went down.
The second fight he won by ‘ring out’ — when a one player pushes another out of the ring area a second time.
The third fight, the championship, held in a boxing-style ring with ropes, was over early.
“I threw a spinning back-kick at the same time he jumped in the air and that was it.”
That kick connected in the most painful of places; the fight was halted because of an inadvertent low kick, and the gold medal awarded to Marco.
“A lot of MMA guys start with one discipline then branch out into others when they become successful at it,” Fee explained when asked about Marco’s long term goal. “Last year we were talking about what he wants to do (with his martial arts), about where he wants to take it, and he said he wants to transition into MMA, so that’s what we’re working on.”
Marco has been part of the PTA competitive sparring team for the past four years and is on the MMA map so to speak already as evident by the scouts that have already come calling.
Immediately after Marco’s first win at the CanAms a promoter came up to Brett and said he wanted to sign the teen to fight on an upcoming MMA card in Vancouver, but Fee passed.
“You have to be careful,” said Fee, “a lot of times the promoters scoop these young guys, give them barely any compensation, and then throw them in there.
“He’s a real tough kid and he can definitely deliver,” Master Fee said of his young player, and makes that point that MMA “seems to suit his body style and demeanor.”
Fee says Marco will be competing in the CanAm next year, “but right now his number one focus is to get good grades and graduate from high school.”
“That’s the number one thing we’re focusing on,” Fee said.
“He will continue to compete in taekwondo, but education’s huge for us, that’s my number one thing with all my athletes, school comes first.”