Updated: Sunday, 21st December 2014 @ 8:17am

'I love it': Manchester City's Mario Balotelli reveals he'd be a UFC fighter if not playing football

'I love it': Manchester City's Mario Balotelli reveals he'd be a UFC fighter if not playing football

By John McDougall

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has revealed that if he was not a footballer he would like to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The 21-year-old Italian international is renowned for having a vibrant and interesting personality, being at the centre of several high profile and amusing stories since moving to the Etihad Stadium from Internazionale.

These include having fireworks set off in his bathroom the night before City’s 6-1 thrashing of United last season, throwing darts at a City youth team player and stopping off at a Manchester sixth form college to use the toilet.   

Speaking to City’s website at the launch of their new home and away kit’s, Balotelli said: “If I weren’t a footballer, I probably want to do UFC, because I really love it!”

After discovering that Balotelli is a UFC fan, MM spoke to Kameron Atakuru, a Professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and coach at the Paramount MMA training facility in Urmston.

When asked what his reaction would be if Balotelli walked into his gym, Kameron said: “He’d be very welcome. I would treat him exactly the same as I do everyone else who attends our sessions.

“Firstly, to begin with we would separately introduce a kickboxing programme and a catch wrestling programme, also known as submission wrestling.

“We would then blend the two together into an MMA programme, as if we taught them to him both together at the start, he would be like a fish out of water!”

Kameron went on to explain both the differences and similarities between the training methods used for MMA and football.

“The similarities for both sports include a high anaerobic fitness threshold, high endurance, and the ability to change direction quickly and have sudden bursts of speed when necessary, so in some respects they are exactly the same” he said.

“Some of the training methods are different though, as Balotelli could probably run faster than I could, but I could probably get someone in a chokehold better than he could.”

Kameron also revealed that sportsmen from other professions take the opportunity to do MMA in the off-season to maintain their fitness and have a new experience.

“I’ve got loads of friends from other sports, like handball for instance, who come in and use our gym to learn some MMA,” he said.

“They actually seem to find it very stimulating as they can learn a new and different set of skills in another area.”

For more information about the Paramount MMA training facility in Urmston visit http://paramount-mma.com/

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.