If you ask any combat sports athlete the simple question, ‘why do you fight?’, you will be sure to receive a wide range of answers.
Some enter the prize fighting ring for that very purpose – to bring home purses, each more lucrative than its predecessor. Whether the cheques are used to fund a lavish life or to provide for family, money is the main aim for these men and women.
Others do it for legacy. Fuelled by a desire to separate themselves from the pack, these athletes take on all comers to prove that they are the best in their field.
Prompt veteran kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter, Elliot Compton with the same question, and your answer will be one that details a different kind of motivation.
For the 33-year-old, being a fighter means accepting every challenge thrown your way, regardless of the difficulty.
“Fortune favours the brave in this sport,” Compton told The Inner Sanctum.
“You’ve got to ask yourself when you get into this game, are you in this to be a bully or are you in this to be a fighter, be a martial artist?
“What‘s your goal, is it to get a million likes on Instagram? Yeah that’s cool, everyone wants the money that comes from that, don’t get me wrong, but I set out in this game to fight the best.
“I pride myself on the fact that I’ve never said no to a hard fight.”
Central to carving out this career path has been a dogged mentality, free of fear of imperfection. To Compton, losing is as much a part of life as it is sport.
Not only is he not scared of defeat, but, he fully acknowledges that pain is a part of the game.
Take his professional Muay Thai debut, for example, a bout against a vastly more experienced opponent.
Looking back, Compton realises that he entered the contest on what might be described as ‘a hiding to nothing.’
Hindsight also tells the Queenslander that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Right from day one, my very first fight ever, the guy had over 200 fights in the stadiums in Thailand,” Compton recalled.
“We didn’t find out until we were at the stadium. My old man looked at me and said ‘what do you want to do?’
“I said, ‘what do you mean what do I want to do? We came to fight, let’s fight. What’s the worst that can happen? If it gets that bad, throw the towel.’
“From that moment on, I was like ‘man this is all I want to do.’ That kind of set the scene for my whole career.”
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From here, the big fights have kept coming, each bringing about its share of highs and lows.
A gallant loss to renowned Thai knockout artist Kampan Santaweesook in Compton’s 18th fight was ultimately followed by what are perhaps his two biggest triumphs – a shutout win over Swedish World kickboxing champion Tobias Alexandersson in 2013 and a highlight reel spinning elbow knockout of Tum Mardsua in 2016.
These accomplishments aside, it has probably been Compton’s most recent activity that exemplifies his ‘take on all comers’ approach to fighting.
After signing for premier promotion ONE Championship, the Brisbanian continued going about his business, adding legendary Dutch kickboxer Neiky Holzken to his already stacked ledger.
What makes this all the more remarkable is that the meeting only materialised after battles with savvy veterans Anthony Njoukani and Cosmo Alexandre in the years prior.
Willing to embrace the underdog tag, Compton again jumped into the deep end.
“A lot of people dodge guys like Nieky (Holzken), they dodge guys like Cosmo Alexandre, and I put my hand up,” he said.
“I get excited for challenges like that. I love being the underdog, I love people saying ‘you can’t do it’.
“In fact, I rally hard for those fights. I get motivated by it, I get fired up.”
Such an internal spark will need to be a healthy flame in his mixed martial arts debut on July 9.
Here, ‘The Dragon’ will aim to put his striking craft and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt to good use against Takuya Oyama (11-6).
In his 17 fights to date, the seasoned Japanese combatant has shown a diverse range of skills. Moreover, “Kennosuke” will come to Australia in form, having won his last three bouts.
Again outweighed from an experience standpoint, Compton is nonetheless spurred on by the test ahead. In his mind, a victory will be the ultimate validation of where his career is heading.
To this end, being the hunter and not the hunted is imperative.
“He’s an all-rounder. He’s not mediocre all-round, he’s good if not great all-round,” Compton surmised.
“I beat him and I know that I’m legit. I know that I will be a successful MMA fighter.
“Oyama brings a threat everywhere but I don’t see it as a threat. I see it as excitement everywhere. There’s not one part of his game that I see as boring.
“That’s the fight that I want, when you win you know you’ve won. Not just beating some guy up because he shouldn’t have been there.
“At the end of the day, fighting is about challenging yourself and testing your will. Imposing your will on him and seeing who breaks first.
“I guarantee you it won’t be me this time.”
Compton vs Oyama headlines Beatdown Promotions’ inaugural event live at Brisbane’s Eatons Hill Hotel. Tickets for the July 9 event can be purchased here.
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