Karate specialist Dan McKee stepped into the MMA ring at age 48. Submitted photo

Courtenay teacher not your everyday fighter

Most athletes involved in the fight game have called it quits long before their 48th birthday.

Dan McKee is an exception.

At age 48, the Comox Valley fighter engaged in his second mixed martial arts fight last month at a Battle Field Fight League event in Coquitlam.

“Dan is a lifelong karate man and has always wanted to try his hand at MMA,” said Bill Fraser, head coach at the Academy of Martial Arts in Courtenay. “Not many people have their first fight in their late-40s. He’s an inspiration to all who train with him.”

McKee won his first fight in June through a second-round rear naked choke (RNC), but lost the November match due to a problem with a cauliflower ear. In the second round of the back-and-forth affair — in which McKee appeared to be gaining the upper hand — his opponent caught him with a left hook that landed on the ear.

“My ear exploded, and the doctor had to end it,” he said. “It was something I’d been struggling with for three or four weeks.”

Shortly before the stoppage, the announcer had commented that his ear was “as big as a beach ball.”

A special education teacher at Vanier Secondary, McKee has been coaching high school wrestling for several years. Before that, he got into kickboxing in Calgary, and entered a couple of tournaments, but an elbow problem sidelined him for a time. Years later, he decided to “just go for it” and enter the MMA ring.

“It’s been there in the back of my mind for a long time. I took the leap of faith and gave it a go…It’s been a good experience,” he said.

He said he was “too relaxed” for the first fight, but woke up after being hit a few times. He had a good takedown near the end of the first round, and another in the second, which led to the RNC.

Was the second match his last foray into the MMA ring?

“Never say never,” McKee said.

“It (training) gets you in the best shape you’ve ever been in,” he added. “If more youth got into things like this, they would probably be less inclined to get in fights…My style of karate is called, ‘The Way of Peace.’ The founder of it, he believed that if you understood your own potential for violence, then you could control it, and it would enable you to be a more peaceful person.”

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