By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
Mike “The Rhino” Bourke (10-16-1) came late to the MMA party, and now struggles to leave, though he’s not that guy. At forty-four years of age, knowing his only belts will be those that hold up his pants, “The Rhino” charges into the cage as a hobby, a passion. A true journeyman, Bourke’s attitude toward MMA is exactly the mindset a young calf requires if they desperately yearn to hold a title, instead of stumbling along amongst the herd. It was interesting to explore Bourke’s approach to the fight game when he appeared as a Legends of the Cage (LOTC) representative in the weekly LOTC segment on The Sports Cage.
Bourke may be a name that isn’t on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but he’s no slouch either. Inactive for the past five years, Bourke remains motivated by his last outing to the cage, which he still ranks as a personal favorite. On November 25, 2010, the most dangerous predator to date was placed in front of “The Rhino”: Ken Shamrock.
“I wouldn’t say as a fighter I was scared, but when you think of Ken Shamrock, the first thing that comes to mind: the world’s most dangerous man. He’s known for his leg-locks and ankle-locks. I was thinking, ‘Man, am I going to get my leg broken in this fight? What’s going to happen? Am I going to be able to do my day job?’”
Whether it’s the biggest fight of his career or not, the sole purpose for entering the cage never wavers:
“I was always the kind of guy who said, ‘Yeah, let’s get in the cage and bang it out. I don’t care. Let’s have a good time.”
In discussing the unusual number of rematches Bourke had in his career, three, he touched at the heart of being a professional mixed martial artist: always improving and answering to the bell to the best of your ability.
When you get knocked down, you have to get right back up, and Bourke’s retelling of his first rematch exemplified this,
“I was in great shape. I came out ready to go and got my ass knocked-out really fast! I was so upset, so pissed off. I just went back and started training harder and harder and harder. They called me up after about eight months and asked if I wanted to fight the guy who knocked me out, and I got the opportunity to get back in there with him to get my revenge.”
Also, when the call finally arrives, you must answer it:
“It’s nice when you get a call from any organization and they consider you to fight. Across the United States and around the world, there are a million fighters, and there’s a fight store on every corner. Take the opportunity!”
Currently, “The Rhino” is under a one-year Bellator MMA contract, and he was in attendance at Bellator MMA 138: Unfinished Business, headlined by Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock. Sitting amongst the audience, Bourke was ready to fill-in at the last-minute, if needed. He shared,
“I was actually on stand-by for the Kimbo and Shamrock fight. I was ready to go. I had been training for about six or seven weeks for it, and I was sitting by the entrance where the fighters come out with my fight gear in hand.”
What did “The Rhino” think of the fight?
“Kimbo is a lot bigger than Ken, stronger, and with Ken being out of the ring for five years…I think, like I’ve read in a few different articles, Ken might have had some ring rust. I saw some people saying it was a fixed fight. I don’t believe that. If it were a fixed fight, there is no way Kimbo would have been smashing him in the face at the end of the fight, but that’s just my opinion.”
Mike Bourke personifies LOTC’s purpose: There are a lot of competitors from the past who need help, and there are a lot of people out there who want to help. LOTC’s objective is to bring everyone together. By walking us down memory lane and anticipating what’s next on his MMA safari, “The Rhino” recognizes the need for the show to go on, and Bourke is more than willing to do what he can to support it.
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