Marc Safaniev is a Russian-born Australian freestyle wrestler, participating in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Born on the 17th of July 1985 in the North Caucasus region of Russia, and it is there he was exposed to freestyle wrestling from the age of seven.
In 1994, at the age of nine his family migrated to Australia. In 1995 Marc began formal training under the late coach Alex Sher. In 1998 he came second in the national cadet championships. Following this tournament, Marc started training under Sam Feigelson (Soviet Union Olympic development coach) and Len Zaslavsky (1996 Olympian and currently the coach of the Australian team) and the following year took the silver again, having to forfeit the gold medal match due to injury. Finally, in 2000 he won the gold medal and became the national cadet champion.
In 2001, at the age of 16 Marc participated, for the first time, in the Junior National Tournament and the next day in the Senior National Tournament. He won the Gold medal in the Juniors and a Bronze medal in the Seniors. The following year Marc improved on that performance by wining a Silver in the Seniors repeating this performance for the next two years. In 2004 he was the Olympic reserve for the Australian Wrestling Team.
In December 2004 at the age of 19, due to reoccurring injuries Marc decided to take a break from competitive sport, recover and concentrate on his studies as a massage therapist. He started a sports injury rehab practice at “Boxing Works” – a famous Sydney gym run by Australian MMA legend Larry Papadopoulos. Whilst there, Marc worked with some of the best fighters and wrestlers in Australia, obtaining experience that would later help him secure a job with Sydney’s leading integrated sports therapy clinic, “SportsLab”.
In 2007 Marc started full time employment with “SportsLab”, where he worked with two of Sydney’s top physiotherapists, David Pugh and Tom Brydson. They had a strong impact on Marc, both professionally and on a personal level, teaching him how to rehab and maintain his own injuries. Soon after Marc started treating Australian MMA fighter, Jon Leven whom Marc also started coaching in wrestling.
In May of 2009, Jon Leven was offered to fight in “Rize 1”, as a main event. One of the fighters in the show withdrew due to injury and Jon suggested that Marc should take his place. Despite not having trained for now four years, with no preparation or knowledge of his opponent, Marc accepted the challenge and went on to win by a unanimous decision. This victory prompted Marc to return to professional competition. After two subsequent unsuccessful fights, he decided to travel overseas for a year and gain international experience, training in USA, Sweden, Russia, Israel and Thailand at some of the world’s most respected camps like the Jackson’s MMA Gym, Pancrase Gym Stockholm and Wanderlei Silva’s Wand Fight Team.
Marc is now back in Sydney doing what he knows best and loves most.