Newest club sports taking shape


Oakland University students interested in martial arts can join one of several clubs. There’s a wrestling club, a judo club, a taekwondo club and an aikido club. But up until now, there wasn’t a club for the sport that mixes all of those skill sets.  

“There are tons of (martial arts) clubs here, but nothing to bridge them,” said Manny Katakis, founder and president of OU’s new mixed martial arts club team. “MMA does just that.” 

Katakis, a senior majoring in journalism, said he became interested in the sport over the summer and thought it would be a good thing for OU students, calling MMA a “great way to stay in shape and build athleticism.” 

Although the club was approved at the end of last semester by Dan Bettmann, coordinator of intramural and club sports, it isn’t an official OU club sport yet. 

“Because they’re a new sport, they’ll have a one semester introductory period,” Bettmann said. 

That means before they can receive funding from OU, they have to prove they can function like a club. They need to be able to reserve space, have a club constitution, establish membership dues and a functioning executive-board with officers. Club sports receive funding based on their budget on a per-need basis, and are eligible for up to $6,000, according to Bettmann. 

A club constitution is for the club’s own benefit, Bettmann said, as it gets them to think about what direction they want the club to go in and how they’ll maintain it. 

The club also needs to have six members to be recognized by the university — 10 if it wishes to be competitive. Currently, the club consists of Katakis and Tyler Auclair, the group’s vice president. Their Facebook group, OU Grizzly Mixed Martial Arts Club, currently has 51 members and Katakis said he knows of 10 people verbally committed to joining. 

Auclair, a freshman studying pre-law, said he’s been practicing martial arts at Integrated Training Systems in Marine City since he was 10. He’s also a member of OU’s wrestling club, and he encourages members of OU’s other martial arts clubs to join the MMA club to pick up new skills. 

“If you come in and you’re just a wrestler, you’re not going to do very well … you have to have every single aspect,” Auclair said. 

Katakis said the group also has a coach, Dom O’Grady, a professional MMA fighter for Motor City Boxing, based in Detroit. 

“He’s probably the best 155 (pound fighter) in the state,” Katakis said. O’Grady, a Wayne State alum, has earned championship belts as well as compete in Europe. 

The club will be using a training room in OU’s recreational center for their on-campus training.

The group will focus on the basics of mixed martial arts, such as submission moves, grappling, and striking techniques by hitting targets and thai pads. Katakis also plans to hold training off-campus at Self Defense Academies of Michigan in Clinton Township. 

Katakis hopes the club can become competitive within a year or two and compete with MMA clubs at other schools with similar programs, like Eastern Michigan and Michigan State universities. 

For now, the club is focused on learning proper mixed martial arts technique in a safe environment. 

“MMA can be confused with being more violent, but this club is meant to teach the proper procedures,” Bettmann said. 

Those interested in joining can e-mail Katakis at [email protected]. The group will be meeting Monday, Feb. 8 in the Lake Huron Room of The Oakland Center. 

Katakis said every OU student is welcome to attend. Well, almost everyone. 

“Our only discrimination are gung-ho tough guys that think MMA is about fighting,” Katakis said. “And that’s not what we’re about.”