ERIE — Titusville native Trent Zdarko won his first bout as a professional mixed martial arts fighter at Bayfront Brawl 7, held at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, on May 18.
Zdarko faced off against Marquis Allen, of Mansfield, Ohio, in the 185-pound main card event. Near the end of the Round 1 of the three-round brawl, Zdarko connected on an armbar and won by submission, at 4:16.
“It feels great,” Zdarko said of notching his first pro win. “I’ve been working for it for the last four years. The goal was to take (Allen) down and get him in submission. I knew he was a good striker, so I was disappointed that I got head kicked and rocked in the beginning, but I’m happy with the end result.”
Zdarko’s victory was the culmination of four years hard work to earn his professional card. However, his path to becoming an MMA fighter was initially the result of a search to find the next “adrenaline rush.”
His search began after becoming a mainstay at the Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Titusville. Zdarko, who trained under Pat Madden at the academy, participated in a handful of Jiu-Jitzu tournaments and was looking for another athletic adventure. That’s when Madden and Dan Schulz introduced him to fighting in the octagon.
“I was looking for the next step after Jiu-Jitzu tournaments even though I was having fun doing that,” Zdarko said. “I tried MMA, and it turned out to be a lot of more fun than I was expecting.”
The Titusville native and current Clarion resident trained with Madden over the last four years and competed in seven fights as an amateur, winning five of those bouts. He conditioned himself with some sort of physical activity every day in addition to fulfilling his duties as a carpenter.
As with any variation of boxing and fighting, Zdarko has been focused on avoiding any sort long-term damage from participating in the sport. Keeping his family as his priority, Zdarko has crafted his fighting strategy to sustain as minimal injury as possible.
“I try to avoid striking, and focus on taking (my opponents) to the ground,” Zdarko said. “Grappling reduces the chances of taking big shots. I want to be there for my wife and daughter by avoiding brain damage at all cost. (The risk of injury) comes with territory, but I’m focused on minimizing that stress on the brain.”
Zdarko doesn’t have his second professional fight scheduled at this time, but he is looking forward to having another chance to put on a show for his supporters.
“I’m looking around and seeing who’s out there,” Zdarko said. “I just want to thank my sponsors, trainers and everyone who went (to Erie) to watch me fight.”