FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Portland, Maine (November 9, 2022)
Nick Mulrey only has one amateur mixed martial arts bout and a round and a half of experience under his belt, so he’s probably not a name that triggers an immediate association in the minds of New England Fights enthusiasts.
It’s where Mulrey trains and with whom he travels that should immediately get your attention. The 27-year-old amateur featherweight sharpens his skills at South Shore Sportfighting in Rockland, Massachusetts, under the watchful eyes of legendary coach and trainer Bill Mahoney.
“He means a lot. He’s taught me everything I know,” Mulrey said. “He’s very, very hands-on with everything. He just explains things very well. What I can do different, what works better, how it works and how to explain everything easily that I can understand it.”
Mulrey (1-0) will put those lessons and the strategy of that fertile mind to work Saturday, November 12 at NEF 50. He will take on fellow Chris Strout (0-2) at Aura in Portland, Maine.
Strout, who took a break of a dozen years between his knockout loss to Jacob Smith and his comeback unanimous decision loss in May to Julian Sirois at NEF 47: “The Battle of L/A,” inspires nothing but respect in his opponent.
“I’m expecting a good fight with Chris,” Mulrey said. “Chris is tough. Doesn’t back down. Always moves forward. Loves throwing his hands, and I’m expecting him to come forward swinging with everything he’s got.”
Strout, who also started his career in the Bay State, now represents First Class MMA out of Brunswick, Maine.
Having gravitated to the cage with a background in jiu-jitsu, Mulrey considers himself measured and surgical by comparison.
“I’m more laid-back. I let ‘em come at me. Feel ‘em out for the first 30 seconds,” Mulrey said. “But with the way (Strout) fights, I think I’ll be shooting real quick.”
Hometown favorite Justin Jarvis was no match for Mulrey in his debut Sept. 11, 2021 at a card in Barre, Vermont. The technical knockout came 77 seconds into round two.
“It definitely started off slow,” Mulrey said. “I just took him to the ground and stayed there for the whole fight.”
The quote attributed to English climber George Mallory in reference to why he climbed Mount Everest – “because it’s there” – applies to Mulrey’s career.
Taking the walk to the cage may have been the natural progression, given his circle of friends, after he initially tested the waters of combat sports for personal and professional reasons.
“I got started with jiu-jitsu, so I’m mostly a grappler more than anything,” Mulrey said. “I got into jiu-jitsu actually to get some more training for law enforcement, and when law enforcement didn’t work out, I said why not give fighting a try and see what happens?”
Aside from the inevitable adrenaline rush, Mulrey enjoys the dual challenges that take place with both the man standing across the mat and within himself.
“I just love how competitive it is, how everyone’s just working to get better and better and better,” he said.
Getting better is seemingly automatic when Mulrey makes the short trip from his home in Marshfield to the gym every day.
Entrenched on the coastline for more than 20 years, Mahoney’s stable has produced a lengthy list of UFC and Bellator veterans, including Manny Bermudez, Johnny Campbell, Josh Grispi and Frank Sforza.
Multiple students of Mahoney also have competed on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series.
“Everyone’s good. Everyone definitely helps out everyone,” Mulrey said. “If they see someone doing something wrong, they’ll step in and try to help ‘em fix it. Everyone trains hard.”
It takes a village to get ready for a fight, of course, and Mulrey is quick to recognize everyone in addition to the boss who has helped him thrive in his budding career.
“Definitely have to thank my strength and conditioning coach, Ryan White, and the wrestling coaches, Zach DiSabatino, Justin Burrill and everybody else there that’s helping me put in the work for this fight,” he said. “I couldn’t do it without ‘em.”
Amateur fighters gravitate to the sport with a variety of agendas and timetables. Many have been watching pay-per-views since they were old enough for their parents to allow it and dream of fighting for glory and gold on a worldwide stage.
At least to this point in his life, Mulrey is not one of those people. He sounds as if he could take it or leave it.
“Right now, I’m not thinking about going pro,” Mulrey said. “I’ve thought about maybe doing this for four or five fights and see what happens. I’m not really sure what my end goal is with this sport.”
Mulrey’s day-to-day life keeps him sharp for his avocation. You aren’t likely to find him in a sauna or running in a sweat suit days before a fight.
“I work construction now,” he said. “Most definitely it keeps me in shape. I might have to cut 10 pounds for this one, not bad.”
While it will be Mulrey’s debut in the NEF cage, he’s not new to the ambiance of the organization.
He was at cageside when Bermudez beat Bruce Boyington in the main event of a February 2020 card.
“I went to Symphony of Destruction a couple years ago, and that crowd was loud,” Mulrey said. “So I don’t know what to expect, I’ve got a lot of rowdy guys coming up. A lot of ‘em are fans. A lot of ‘em just think I’m crazy for doing it. It should be a good one.”
Opening bell time for NEF 50 at Aura is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 12. Tickets are available now at www.ticketmaster.com. The event will also stream live on a pay-per-view basis at www.combatsportsnow.com.