Bellator featherweight Matt "Mangler" Bessette has been a fighter long before he knew there was such a sport as mixed martial arts.
Kevin Iole has the moving story.
Bessette was just 3 years old when doctors delivered the stunning news to his parents that he had just a 50-50 chance of making it to his fourth birthday due to leukemia.
"I remember a lot of it being scary," Bessette said. "But for the most part, I've always been a very positive person. I was taught to be very positive, and I think a lot of me being cured of that disease, I really believe, was my outlook on the whole thing.
"I've been taught this and I've always been this way, to be positive; to be strong. A positive mental attitude can change your environment like that. I was walking around with an IV bag as my best friend, all day, every day. But I stayed positive. If you don't stay positive, it can weigh you down."
This is a guy who is accustomed to staring long odds in the face, and winning.
And so he'll enter the Bellator featherweight tournament by meeting Diego Nunes on Friday at Bellator 110 with the same attitude he used to beat leukemia.
"The better fighter doesn't always win," Bessette said. "Sometimes, the more talented fighter doesn't win. It's the more prepared fighter and the more confident one, the one who believes, who usually wins."
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Bessette fights Friday at Bellator 100 in the opening round of the season's eight-man featherweight tournament.