The first annual Extreme MMA Western Canadian Championships, presented by the Canadian Amateur Combat Sports Council, did not go off without a hitch, but it was a highly enjoyable night of MMA action, featuring twelve stoppages in just fifteen fights. That's a finishing rate of %8o in bouts that were contested over one three-minute round!
The event was structured as a series of tournaments at each of the six standard MMA weight classes from Featherweight (136-145lbs.) through Heavyweight (206-265lbs.). The winner in each category earned a bye into the CACSC's Extreme MMA National Championships scheduled for Coqiutlam, B.C. on April, 23rd.
In theory, this arrangement should have made for some "extreme" excitement, especially for fans with a fond nostalgia for the tournament format. However, due to the large number of fighters were not cleared through the weigh-ins, five out of the six tournament brackets were lopsided. That meant that some fighters had to win more matches to get into the finals than others in the same weightclass. From a competitive standpoint, this put some fighters at an obvious disadvantage and perhaps left some members of the crowd puzzled as to how it was determined as to who would receive a first-round bye. Compounding that was the fact that three of the six tournaments could not be completed due to injuries, which undoubtedly left some fans feeling disappointing that they didn't see definitive conclusions to every tournament
That said, none of these problems should be seen to reflect poorly on the event's expert organizers, led by head promoter Don Arnott [pictured right]. The fights progressed in a logical and timely order and the tournament's structure and rules were clearly explained both in the program and by the capable ring announcer. As for the less-than-ideal conclusion, surely none can blame either the promoters, the fighters, or the medical staff for considering the athletes' safety as the highest priority. To say the least, The CACSC's Western Canadian Championships, which is set to air on The Fight Network as early as next week, had an air of professionalism not often seen in the amateur ranks.
Now, a quick recap of every tournament, or click here for: QUICK RESULTS
The first fighter to qualify for the finals was Ross Walker of Nanaimo. In his first fight, against Josh "Bull Dog" Brown, Walker was caught in an early barrage of punches from the "Bull Dog," but Walker showed excellent composure in tiring Brown out before unleashing pin-point striking combinations of his own to force a TKO stoppage at 2:05. Walker looked even more impressive in his second bout as he mixed his strikes well, going upstairs and to the body, on Ronald Edgar, who was forced to quit due to an unfortunate eye-poke at 2:12. As a result of the infraction, the fight went to the judges decision an Walker was awarded the victory.
The other featherweight finalist, Campbell River's Oren "Silent But Violent" Hanscomb" had an easier road, needing only to slap an early guillotine choke on Shane "Young Gun" Jung to secure his berth into the finals. Jung had previously defeated Leeam "Desert Evil" Dagan with rear naked choke that left Dagan out cold.
Much to the crowd's dismay, Walker was unable to participate in the finals, which was surprising given his dominance in the second round. Hanscomb was declared the Western Featherweight Champion (pictured above), but hopefully Wlaker will also make his way to Coquitlam for the finals as he showed a good deal of poise and fantastic killer-instinct.
Nanaimo's Josh Shepherd (pictured rght), did not disappoint the partisan crowd making quick work of two opponents en route to a spot in the lightweight finals. In his first fight, Shepherd threatened Julian Russ early with a triangle choke attempt, that he also used to secure a sweep, before locking in a guillotine finish at 1:24. Shepherd's second fight was even nastier as he finished John "Cave Man" Houston with an impressive combo that was capped of with a textbook knee from the clinch at 0:24.
Shepherd's opponent in the finals, Calgary's Chris "The Rock" McIntosh earned his spot with an impressive showing against Kelly Poilin. McIntosh weathered an early storm from the scrappy Poulin before securing a takedown followed by a TKO finish at 1:51.
Shepherd did not get an opportunity to become the only fighter to win three fights on Saturday, as McIntosh was ruled medically unfit to continue. Nonetheless, the hometown-boy became the Western Lightweight Champion.
This was the only tournament to feature both a final round and more than three competitors. The first finalist Wainwright, Alberta's Chris "Mad Dog" Durette won two fights en route to the finals. The thirty-three-year-old first defeated Evan Dixon by KO with a beautiful right hook at 1:36, then defeated Sampson Barney in a hotly contested split-decision that nearly destroyed the ring itself. Durette's opponent in the finals was Calgary's Don McLeod who needed just 0:22 to defeat his first-round opponent Mike Blumke by TKO.
In the finals it was the fresher McLeod who finished Durette with a knee form clinch to become the Western Welterweight Champion, but "Mad Dog" deserves credit for being the only fighter to compete three times at the Western Championships. Ideally, both fighters will have earned a spot at The National Championships.
This tournament featured only two competitors in one fight, but it ended up being B.C. MMA Fan's "Fight Of The Night." The back-and-forth affair between Clayton Brawn and Garrett Okeymow, both of Nanaimo, began with each landing several clean shots standing, including one instance in which they connected simultaneously (pictured left).
The fight appeared to be over when Okeymow dragged Brawn to the mat and began raining down fierce punches, but the fight was returned to the feet via the event's mandatory 30-second stand-up rule. From there it was Brawn who scored a thrilling KO victory that left him in apparent shock and his opponent in a heap. What a turn-around it was, and what a fight by both competitors.
With his emphatic come-from-behind win, Brawn became the CACSC's Western Middleweight Champion.
Light Heavyweight Tournament:
Surrey's Ryan "Soldier" Bennett was easily the night's most memorable light heavyweight, with his mountain-man beard, impressive leg kicks, and somewhat unorthodox arm-strikes. Despite arguably absorbing the more punishing blows, Bennett was able to outpoint Jer "The Jerk" Kornelsen in the first round by staying more active and constantly pressing the action.
Bennett put on another great show against Stacy "The Russian" Hadikin (pictured right) in the tournament's second round. At one Bennett rocked and dropped his fresher opponent with a back-hand strike and was close to finishing the fight.
Ultimately, Stacy Hadikin landed more solid shots, including several directly to Ryan Bennett's chin. The fight went to a judges' decision, which "The Russian" won unanimously to become the Light Heavyweight Amateur Champ, but not before being nearly gassed out by the tenacious Bennett.
The only fight of the heavyweight tournament occurred in the first round when Abbotsford's Byron Toutant defeated Grarret "Bigg Dogg" Van Vaals by split-decision. It was a fair decision given that Toutant had opened the fight with an impressive slam and scored several trip takedowns thereafter.
In a comic turn of events, neither first round competitor was medically able to move on making Reece Doherty (pictured below) the Western Heavyweight Champion despite his not having fought at all that night.