On February 26 Travis "The Gladiator" Galbraith will be aiming to put an exclamation mark on his performance against the heavy hitting Tom "Kong"
Watson in Edmonton, Alberta, as the twenty-seven year old middleweight submission specialist promises that his upcoming "MFC 24: HeatXC" bout will mark a new beginning for the fighter who has already proven himself against many of the best athletes the game has to offer.
In a sport that is currently seeing an invasion of top level athletes making the transition with tremendous success, Galbraith admits to being cut from a distinctly different cloth in regards to how he came about strangling grown men for a living. When asked what type of previous combat sport related experience he had before making the decision to fight for a living - wrestling, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, karate, Tae-Bo, anything - the self described "lost boy" wore his disadvantaged upbringing as a badge, stating, "Nothing (laughs). I came from a straight nothing background. It was all street fights. That's where it all started for me.
"I was in and out of trouble my whole life. I was brought up in the system.
Youth detention centers were my thing. All the way until I was eighteen. It was just a lack of parents. They just did their own thing. For someone that had nothing to begin with, fighting seemed like the thing to do. I just knew I needed to apply myself to it. I was lucky that I didn't have to pay for my training in the beginning. All I had was myself."
Refusing to allow his troubled childhood stand in the way of his dreams to make something out of himself, Travis threw himself headfirst into the beautifully brutal world of mixed martial arts and quickly discovered he had a penchant for forcing grown men to cry uncle, finishing eight of his first twelve victories via submission, and at one point choking the life from a trio of consecutive victims to establish himself as one of the most dangerous ground fighters in the business.
After suffering a defeat at the hands of the Black House trained Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante in 2008, Travis went on to string together a pair of impressive victories and looked to have all of the momentum in the world on his side, and that's when the bottom dropped out.
"In my last fight with David Heath I detached a tendon on my left thumb,"
revealed Galbraith. "I couldn't tell you when it happened. I noticed as soon as the first round was over. I was like, 'F***, I can't open my hand up'.
After that happened all of my takedowns and everything else I had been planning went right out the window and I decided to stand and bang with him."
While a torn tendon in the thumb is undoubtedly a set back for any man that chooses to fight as a profession, it shouldn't have been any more than a six month layoff at the very most. But as the saying goes, "Bad things come in pairs".
"I started back training about four months ago following that injury and my first week back I ended up breaking my right thumb on the top of my sparring partner's head," said Galbraith. "It was just one of those things. It was just brutal. I couldn't believe it had happened again, and to the other hand to make it even worse. I had pins in it and I started training with my conditioning coach only, and this is still with a cast on. I was actually able to begin light sparring and hitting the bag about a month and a half ago."
Many could have viewed the unlikely case of reoccurring injuries as a sign to hang them up. To get out of the game. However, with Travis being the "Gladiator" he is, there was no other way to take the break than a breath of fresh air. Something that needed to happen.
"This time off has really served to put my priorities right in line,"
admitted Travis. "I don't know what it is, but it's like a cosmic alignment and everything just seems to be coming together now."
According to Galbraith, this recent cosmic aligning is all going to culminate on February 26 as the Edmonton raised fighter promises to make an example out of "Kong" Watson on his way to establishing himself as one of MFC's premier middleweights.
"I know Tom is to bring a lot of stand up, but it's nothing I haven't seen up until now," said Galbraith. "He won't be able to out-Jits me, and he's not going to be able to out-wrestle me."
Just because Travis is known as a submission artist and Watson is viewed as a banger, don't expect for Galbraith to shy away from the stand up for one moment.
"I'm completely confident that I can hang with Tom on the feet if that's where the fight ends up," said the PRIDE FC veteran. "I feel very confident about my stand up. If he wants to keep it on the feet, it doesn't matter.
Wherever the fight goes I'm going to take it to him.
"I don't feel like I have any major holes in my game anymore, but before I was never a really big stand up guy, and since I've been able to train full time I've done more stand up training than anything else. I've turned my weakness into my strength."
While Galbraith promises a reborn and revitalized fighter in 2010 beginning at "MFC 24: HeatXC", the constantly developing twenty-three fight veteran is just fine with taking his time, and doing things the right way this time around.
"Honestly, I'm in no rush for anything right now," said Galbraith. "I'll take any fight that comes along. I've held belts for other organizations in the past and you take on a lot of responsibility when you capture that belt.
Having that strap puts a huge target right on your back. If a title fight comes up down the line, then so be it, but I have no immediate plans for that. I'm not looking past Tom Watson. I'm just getting my feet wet again right now, but if the belt comes up sometime soon, then for sure I'll go after it.
"I'm still learning. There's still so much to learn in this game. I'm just hoping to continue to grow and develop. I'm still a work in progress. I don't think I'll ever stop being a work in progress.
"2010 is going to a breakthrough year for me is because I'm able to actually train full time now. Before I was always working a full time job and trying to work full time training into it. Luckily I got some sponsorships that are going to help me with that so I can apply the attention to the areas that I need work on as a full time job. It's really been helping me to fill in the holes I had in my game. That's why this is going to be the year."