Following the tragic death of former UFC heavyweight Tim Hague in 2017, combat sports were banned for a year in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, leaving many fighters to have to wait in order to get an opportunity to compete again. Among those caught up in the ban was bantamweight Michael Hay.
After picking up two wins to kick off his 2017, Hay has been on the sidelines waiting for the ban’s year-long timeframe to expire before he could get back to action.
“I’ve been coaching, teaching, and I’ve been doing everything I can to stay busy,” Hay told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve been waiting to see what happens with the MMA scene here with the ban, but things are back on track right now. I’ve got my eyes looking forward and I’m staying positive about it.
“There are missed opportunities and missed times, but it just means that there will be different opportunities and different times to be able to showcase yourself and go out there and perform. I’m ready to go right now.”
When Hay does return to action, he feels he’ll be sharper in the mental aspect of his game, which he expects to show through in big ways moving forward.
“I feel like I’ve matured a lot mentally over the last year,” said Hay. “I had to take some time off from training to deal with some injures and stuff like that, and it made me have to mentally train myself.
“When you can’t focus on physical things, you’ve got to focus on your brain and the processes of fighting. I feel like I’ve matured a lot mentally, and it’s given me a good chance to evaluate everything in my mind.”
On Friday in Enoch, Alberta, Canada, Hay (5-1) will return to action for the first time in over a year when he faces Jamie Siraj (5-2) in a main card 135-pound championship bout at Unified MMA 35.
“He’s well-rounded, so good it’s good to test myself everywhere,” Hay said of Siraj. “I’m looking forward to going out there and showing off some of my skills. With all the quick finishes (I’ve had) sometimes you just get warmed up and the fight’s over, so it’d be nice to go out there and move around a little bit.”
Finally able to get back to fighting, Hay is looking to make up for lost time and have the most productive year of his career in 2019.
“I take it fight by fight, but after having the time off I’ve had, I’m looking to have a big 2019,” said Hay. “In terms of what I’m looking to get done: I’m looking to win this title here, defend the title, and get a few good notches for me.
“Hopefully 2019 will be a very busy year for me and I can stake my claim to being one of the top guys up here in Canada.”