Just two fights into his amateur competitive mixed martial arts (MMA) career, Powell River’s Nicolas Ouellet, 22, is already making a name for himself. In his debut this March, he took out opponent Matt Lepper in a first-round submission, and on June 1 at Battlefield Fight League’s amateur lightweight competition, he repeated the feat.
“It was kind of a quick turnaround for the two fights,” said Nicolas, who took out the more experienced Manny Fernandez to win the belt. “It was always a big goal to one day get a belt, so it means a lot to me.”
Ouellet was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, but moved with his family to Powell River at age five.
“Definitely this is home,” he said of the Upper Sunshine Coast.
His father Jean-Marc owned a kickboxing and karate school. Nicolas, along with younger brother Raphael, 20, has been immersed in martial arts from an early age, he said.
“My dad inspired me. He used to compete a lot in kickboxing and karate so I looked up to him when I was a kid,” said Nicolas. “I was literally in diapers around the gym and then about five years old I started training karate once a week. I started training every day when I was 14.”
Nicolas began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with coach Andrew Thistle and participating in competitions around this time. Recently, Thistle moved away to work full-time as a coach, and Nicolas and Raphael took over Powell River Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as their business.
“I’ve been taking care of all the business side and my brother has been helping me teach all the classes,” said Nicolas. “It’s been super busy.”
Raphael also competes in MMA and has a fight coming up later this summer, added Nicolas.
In addition to running the martial arts school and teaching classes, Nicolas said he is currently training twice per day, six days a week to prepare for his next fight this November when he will defend his belt. His girlfriend Deidra and mother Annie are his sources of motivation and inspiration, along with his dad and brother, students and the community of Powell River, which he said has been a huge support.
“It’s pretty amazing because this has been a vision and a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” said Nicolas. “And it’s paid off because now it’s our life.”