Meet Miles Arnstead
Although Canada as a nation is home to some of the world’s top mixed martial artists, the province of Saskatchewan is yet to produce a high-level athlete in the sport.
Regina’s Miles Anstead is looking to become the first.
Since he started training four years ago, Anstead has established himself as arguably the province’s most promising amateur mixed martial artist. A high-level blue-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Anstead boasts a resume that includes a third-place finish in the Rio International Open in 2009, a gold-medal performance at the same tournament in 2010 and, most recently, a third-place showing at the Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials in Montreal, Que., earlier in March.
Despite dropping his first bout as an amateur mixed martial artist – a blemish on his record Anstead attributes to nerves – the A.J. Scales-trained middleweight has since notched a victory on Canada’s amateur-circuit and is working hard to ensure he doesn’t fall short again in the future.
“I usually go, jiu-jitsu on Monday and Tuesday, Muay Thai on Wednesday and Thursday, jiu-jitsu on Friday and then both on Saturday and sometimes I box a little bit on Friday. Then I lift – my weight routine always switches around – but I lift four days a week before I train,” said Anstead. “That’s one of the downsides of having a job in the sport – I don’t have much of a life. It’s a good life, but no life.”
While many aspiring mixed martial artists are either content putting in hours at their hometown gym or aren’t blessed with the opportunity to travel and train, Anstead has taken full advantage of every travel opportunity – and he has the passport to prove it.
Thanks in large part to his Brazilian jiu-jitsu trainer Scales, Anstead has flown to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to train at the legendary Nova Uniao Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy twice, has traveled to Montreal to train at Firas Zahabi’s TriStar gym and is currently in Coconut Creek, Fla., to train at the American Top Team training facility – one of the most respected gyms in North America.
“I like to go and see other gyms,” he said. “Mixed martial arts is one of the few sports where if you’ve got a plane-ticket, you can pretty much go train anywhere. Your options are pretty open. It’s good to keep it fresh. I train with new guys all the time. I’m a guy that likes traveling, so if I can get a vacation out of it and travel at the same time, that’s nice.”
Coincidentally, while most young mixed martial artists are humbled when they train with the sport’s elite, sparring and rolling with some of the best in the business has had a different effect on Anstead.
“Once I started training at other gyms and started training with professionals, I thought that I might be able to make a living in the sport,” he said. “It’s one thing to see them on TV and put them on a pedestal – don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing athletes –but when you go to another gym and train with those types of guys and roll with professional athletes and you’re not that far off from them, it kind of hits you.
“Don’t get me wrong, they still kicked my ass, but it’s not unrealistic for me to be that good. It’s not like they roll with you and you think, ‘Oh, I’m never going to be there.’ It’s definitely not unrealistic to be that good.”
Although it’s too early to tell what the future holds for Anstead, who will be competing against a yet to be determined opponent on May 21 in Regina, the 22-year-old aspiring mixed martial artist isn’t shy about voicing his intentions.
“I hope to one day hold a belt in a professional league,” said Anstead. “As far as jiu-jitsu, I’d like to become a world champion some day. I want to push it as far as I can go and I think I can go pretty far. Expect big things.”