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A lot of fighters have learned their first bit of martial arts from their parents. Some even continue to keep their parents in their corner as someone who knows them best or someone who motivates them better than anyone else.
All of those things are true for UFC Fight Island 6’s Modestas Bukauskas, but his dad is not like other dads. Born in the Soviet Union, Gintas Bukauskas grew up learning to fight on the streets. His relationship with fighting soon evolved to martial arts. As he soaked up all the knowledge he could, he began to develop his own blended martial art.
“A lot of the martial arts he learned were through life experience and making his own particular art called combat self defense. He’s actually written a book about it and everything,” said Bukauskas of his father. “It’s sort of a mix between traditional karate, street fighting and sambo. He sort of mixed everything together.”
While this may just seem like run of the mill MMA now, this was pretty revolutionary for the time period. Gintas was doing this long before MMA was even a thing. In fact, he was one of the first people to compete in tournaments in the Soviet Union.
“Back in the day they had their first sort of no holds barred competitions and stuff like that in the Soviet Union. That’s where he was competing and doing well,” he said. “So he’s sort of come up from the very early days of MMA and I was lucky to have that sort of tutelage from such a young age.”
Sadly, this isn’t the story where his dad gets his last bit of glory as the sport of MMA sparks. Instead, he stepped away from his combat sports pursuits just before the sport took off into the global sphere.
“I believe he retired just when the UFC came about. I was born in 1994 and the UFC came about in 1993,” Modestas recalls. “So he stopped right there before everything sort of blew up in terms of MMA, but he was one of the first guys who, when we moved to England, who knew MMA and no one else really did.”
Of course, we can’t say that all of that work went waste. As he has mentored Bukauskas through his sports career, which included a stop as a high school basketball player and American football player in a Louisiana high school, he’s passed an immeasurable amount of knowledge on to his son. In addition to technique, he serves as guidance for his son in his MMA pursuits.
“He definitely kicks my ass into gear, that’s for sure. I keep mentioning he’s like an angel in my corner. He’s always looking out and looking over me, and watching. And he always gives me the right instructions,” he said - like his father did in his UFC debut against Andreas Michailidis. “I had the overhook and then the underhook on the other side, and then all I hear is my dad screaming like a madman from the corner. ‘Elbows, elbows, elbows.”
And although Modestas’ father whips him into shape, the two are as close as can be. Although you are likely to see him coming down hard on his son, you’ll also see him creating YouTube videos with him. That closeness isn’t lost on Modestas, who has always shown his gratitude to the man that not only gave him life, but gave him all that he learned.
“I’d written in on my board. It’s actually written here right now, I can see it. It says ‘I’ll give my first bonus, $50,000 all to my dad and stepmom,” Modestas shares. “I’d written in all my birthday cards to my dad like ‘Dad, next year you and me are going to be walking into the UFC octagon together. That happened. Then I said, listen for the next birthday, I’m going to get you the 50 Gs I promised right before I left.”
You can see the fruits of both men’s labors as part of the main card of this weekend’s UFC Fight Island 6. The younger Bukauskas will be taking on Jimmy Crute with his dad right there in his corner.