Curtis DeMarce will bid farewell to his hometown of Brandon on the stage of the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Saturday.
The 25-year-old mixed martial artist is in the process of moving to Edmonton so he can study physiotherapy and massage while continuing to rehabilitate the arm he broke in a car accident two years ago. While DeMarce still hopes to resume his MMA career, instead of being in the octagon to compete on Saturday, he will try his hand at bodybuilding.
He has entered the men’s physique novice event at the International Drug Free Athletics Prairie Classic that begins at 5 p.m.
"Growing up, I’ve always been told I have crazy genetics," he said. "Genetically gifted being lean and my body structure and muscle structure is perfect for a bodybuilding competition, especially drug-free. I think being an athlete my whole life really helped me maintain that health and fitness and that lifestyle."
Going into bodybuilding is something DeMarce is considering if his MMA career doesn’t get back on track. He felt a lot of ring rust in his last contest in November and felt like his right arm, which he broke in five different places, wasn’t up for more matches, and he still doesn’t.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Brandonite is still trying to build strength in his arm and is doing straight technique jujitsu and boxing to work on quick feet in case he is able to make a comeback. He’s also doing some coaching and teaching seminars.
The most important thing for DeMarce is avoiding rushing back and causing a worse injury. He feels he has time on his side based on his age and having started in MMA at only 17, but the long recovery is weighing on his mind.
"It’s frustrating," he said. "Being an athlete and being in that kind of field, martial arts in general, it’s a combat sport and that’s bound to happen. Injuries are a huge thing. Most of the time you’re injured going into a fight, but when something this serious happens you should take the time and that’s how guys end their careers really short. They try to come back too soon and injure themselves worse or have that same problem and need further surgeries and that’s how careers end.
"I’m trying to be smart about it. … I’m trying to stay positive and focus on other areas of my life."
DeMarce has a lot going on in his life other than trying to get back into the octagon. He has a friend who knows photographer Scott Schisler, who invited DeMarce to Ohio for a photo shoot for a Mountain Dew advertisement. He’s started building a portfolio to pose for fitness magazines and he said his email inbox is starting to fill up with modelling requests.
Moving to Edmonton may be what DeMarce needs for his MMA career as well. A lot of UFC fighters are based out of the Alberta capital, and he hopes he’ll get to learn from and train with them. It also gives him a chance to further his education as a fallback for after his athletic career ends.
For now, he’s focusing on preparing for the bodybuilding competition, which has taught him a different diet regimen that could help him reach his weight in MMA in the future. DeMarce has never been in a bodybuilding event before, but he has set high goals for himself, which includes earning his IDFA pro card.
He also has a sense of nervousness that he hasn’t experienced in quite a while in the athletic scene.
"It’s my first show, so I don’t know what to expect, but the nerves are definitely running through me like the first four or five fights I ever had growing up as a kid," he said. "It’s a new feeling for me, because I’m usually relaxed and calm. It’s good to have those nerves and I’m hoping to grab a trophy and be on my way."