Local fighter has sights set on professional match at ShoWare Center

Local cage fighter Jon Maryanski

Local cage fighter Jon Maryanski

Jon “The Mauler” Maryanski signed up for his first mixed martial arts class three years ago and instantly fell in love with the sport.

Maryanski, 25, a former wrestler at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, will compete in his second professional mixed martial arts cage fighting bout at The Uprising at 7 p.m. Saturday at the ShoWare Center in Kent. Maryanski, who just recently received his nickname from a mixed martial arts promoter, is one of 20 fighters on the card.

“The biggest thing is that high,” Maryanski said Thursday, about what drives him to compete. He was at Westcoast Fitness in Renton, where he works out daily after his regular job as a plumber. “The training gets tough, but it’s all for when you get that arm raised in the cage. That’s the fire I missed from wrestling. But I found it again.”

The Ravensdale resident, who is the son of Tahoma School District Superintendent Mike Maryanski, had long sought something to replace his boyhood sport of wrestling, which he started at age 6. He competed in the 2002 high school state wrestling tournament at 119 pounds, but he didn’t place. But that didn’t stop his competitive spirit.

Fired up to compete in something, he opted for a sport called mixed martial arts. It’s a full-contact sport where fighters use wrestling, boxing and jujitsu skills against their opponent.

From the get-go, Maryanski was hooked.

“I liked this, this is what I want to do,” he said, recalling his first mixed martial arts class at Westcoast Fitness. “I set a goal that day to go pro.”

Maryanski, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds, earned a technical knockout in his first pro bout Nov. 22 at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton. He dropped his opponent with a left hook and straight right before the first-round ended.

“He didn’t come out for the second round,” Maryanski said.

Maryanski’s going to keep coming out for his rounds, and the big paychecks and television exposure might come later for him. His goal is to earn a spot on the World Extreme Cage fighting circuit, with most of the fights held in Las Vegas. The WEC features fighters in smaller weight classes compared to the Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters. Both organizations are run by the same owners.

“I have a good group of people around me,” Maryanski said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Besides working 40 hours a week as a plumber and running his own plumbing business on the weekends, Maryanski spends seven days a week training. With basically three sports in one, he finds time to practice wrestling, boxing and kick boxing.

The crew that supports Maryanski includes Reese Andy, wrestling trainer and promoter; Carlos Hernandez, boxing coach; Travis Deorge, kick boxing trainer; and Tim Nagy, strength trainer.

“You’ve got to know everything and be efficient in everything,” Maryanski said. “I feel comfortable anywhere in the fight. The transition is the big thing to boxing to wrestling to kick fighting. Once you get the transitions down, you become a great MMA fighter.”

Andy has watched Maryanski develop in mixed martial arts since he took up the sport in 2006.

“Jon’s an inspiration that hard work pays off,” said Andy, who has a 7-3 record as a MMA fighter. “A lot of guys want to go to the next step (and turn pro), but they have to hold a job until it makes sense to not have a job. Some guys don’t want to give up a lifestyle of nights out or time with a significant other or to be able to cut loose after a long day of work.”

Right now, the love of the sport looms as enough motivation for Maryanski. He is scheduled Saturday to fight Rex Guzman, of Hawaii, who will be making his pro debut.

“I heard it’s going to be pretty cool,” Maryanski said about fighting at the ShoWare Center. “I heard there might be 7,000 people. That’s a lot to be fighting in front of. I’m very excited for this fight.”

The crowd will include Maryanski’s friends, as well as his older sister, Nikki Maryanski. But his parents won’t watch. They weren’t even able to watch him wrestle in high school because of the fear of seeing their son lose.

“My dad and mom get so nervous,” Maryanski said. “They couldn’t watch this. It hurts my dad to see me lose.”

Andy expects Maryanski to remain unbeaten.

“I think he’ll have another victory,” Maryanski said. “He’s a very well-rounded fighter and he knows how to get out of holds. I’m confident if he’s on his feet or on the ground.”

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