Sunday, March 7, 2010

"AFC II: Aftershock" A Hit With Island MMA Fans; Starnes, Hinchliffe, Shaw, and Zuma Are Big Winners

Last night, the Victoria-based Armageddon Fighting Championships' aptly-named "Aftershock" event successfully built upon the momentum of last August's AFC1: The Big Bang.

As a result, AFC has now moved way out ahead to become British Columbia's most professionally run and talent-rich MMA promotion. Sure, there were a few miscues. For example, a buzzer sounded midway through Nick Driedger vs. Patrick Besarra causing a bit of confusion, and Marcus Hicks (10-20)' record was erroneously listed in the program as 18-10. Overall though, the event gave fans in B.C. a rare opportunity to witness an MMA show as it should be run. If their improved sophomore effort, which will be broadcast on The Fight Network in the coming weeks, was any indication, the quality of AFC III on July 17th should rival any of the most established promotions in Canada.

One drawback of the event was that educated B.C. fight fans knew going into the main event that Marcus Hicks, who weighted in four pounds over the limit and now possesses a %33.3 win-rate, stood less than a snowflake's chance in Barbados of defeating Kalib Starnes (10-4). One has to respect Hicks for his willingness to take on a nearly insurmountable challenge, but, at the same time, one hopes that he is not used in a showcase fight anytime in the AFC's near future. For his part, Kalib Starnes did more than was necessary to entertain the crowd-- coming out to the children's song "Do You Know The Muffin Man" in an apparent dig at his opponent's weight issues. When the bell sounded, Kalib went to work employing a methodical game plan designed, most likely, to minimize any chance of sustaining damage ahead of his upcoming fight in Hawaii. Starnes, who looked to be in some of the best physical condition of his career, relied on his superior strength to muscle Hicks to the mat with a trip-takedown. From there it was all Starnes who transitioned to full-mount, then back-mount before sinking in a rear naked choke (RNC) just 1:22 into the first round.

Easily the biggest story to come out of AFC II is the return-to-form of Nick Hinchliffe (12-5, [Pictured Above]) who turned in a thoroughly dominant performance despite entering the fight as the underdog against Dan MacIver (6-1). MacIver had defeated Hinchliffe in a previous match back in October, 2008 and entered the match undefeated with a fair amount of buzz surrounding him, but Hinchliffe was not to be denied. The Nanaimo native dominated the first round with devastating G'n'P before cornering MacIver early in the second and unloading a barrage of vicious punches that left his opponent in a heap [Pictured Above]. As ringside medical attendants struggled to return MacIver to consciousness, you could almost watch the weight of Hinchliffe's recent losses, all to qua lite opponents, being lifted from his shoulders. At the night's conclusion, Kalib Starnes suggested that Hinchliffe meet him at AFC III in July to determine a middleweight champion. To say the least, no one in the crowd seemed to take issue with that thought.

In what ended up being a slightly farcical match, Phil Friedman (2-2), a daily training partner of Randy Couture at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, easily dismantled UFC 4 veteran Jason Fairn (4-5) in just 38 seconds. Congratulations, of course, go to Friedman, but, really, the less said about this "fight" the better. At least Friedman got to re-enter the ring to draw the winning 50-50 ticket.

Former Victoria Rebels stand-out and current CFL player, Justin Shaw (1-0 [Interview, Pictured Right]) made a crackling heavyweight debut against an over-matched giant in Bella Coola B.C.'s Nathan Williamsen (0-1 [Bio]). Unfortunately, the fight was ended due to doctor's stoppage (cut) at just 0:58 of round one, but the assembled fans witnessed an impressive display of raw force from Shaw who could someday be a legitimate threat to any Canadian heavyweight. After the fight, Shaw, who will report to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers training-camp this spring, was open about his eagerness to fight again in the future. In a tremendous show of heart, his opponent, Williamsen, even suggested he would be willing to take a second crack at Shaw one day.

The other big winners of the night were the entire crew from Victoria's Zugec.Ultimate.Martial.Arts (Zuma) fight club. Not only did they take home three decisive first-round wins by Diego Wilson (5-1), Nick Driedger (3-1), and Josh Spong (2-1), but Sarah Kaufman (11-0, [Fight Review; Interview]) was given a thunderous round of applause by the crowd in appreciation of her recent Strikeforce 135lb. title victory. Throughout the night, Adam Zugec [Pictured Left] was seen sporting a t-shirt that read "He Coaches...", and he proved to everyone in attendance that he does it pretty darn well.

Also scoring victories at AFC II were Island MMA's Derek Medler (2-0) who hip-tossed and then submitted his opponent by guillotine choke in 0:48 seconds; Josh Bohnen who won a fairly clear unanimous decision; Tristan Connelly who came from being behind early to submit his opponent at 2:26 of round one; and Karl Bergen who looked impressive as he finished his lopsided fight with knees against the cage to score a TKO at 3:25 of round one in the night's opening bout.

As a final note, UFC lightweight and Ultimate Fighter 6 winner Mac Danzig (19-7-1) did an excellent job as guest referee. The crowd was certainly pleasantly surprised to see him in the cage. Thanks again, Mac.

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