Unified MMA’s first event of 2022 is in the books.
The 10-fight Unified MMA 43 card took place Friday night in Edmonton, Alta. and didn’t disappoint the sold out crowd in attendance.
In the main event, Shane Campbell (now 22-8) continued his assault on the regional scene, picking up a unanimous decision victory over fellow UFC veteran Kyle Prepolec (now 15-8) to extend his winning streak to five.
This bout was being billed as one of the best all-Canadian matchups to grace the Unified MMA cage and Campbell said he feels it lived up to the hype.
“This was my 111th fight, so of course it’s business as usual,” said Campbell in an interview with MMA Empire.
“This was one of the best competitions in the Unified cage that I’ve had and I think we put on a great show. He clipped me with a couple, I clipped him with a couple, and we both wanted to finish this fight. I think it was amazing for the audience.”
Since his UFC departure, Campbell has gone 10-2 with six finishes.
He continues to prove his case for a call back to the big stage and while he believes he’s deserving of that call, Campbell said it’s not as simple as it seems.
“Everyone has to understand the logistics of something like this. For the UFC to sign me, and then it takes six weeks to get a P1 visa, they can’t sign me two months out and hope the visa goes through,” said Campbell.
“In the scenario that the UFC comes to Canada, I’m absolutely on the card without a doubt in my mind. I may be wrong; maybe they just don’t want me after I was there once and they just want to give new talent a chance.”
In the co-main event, KB Bhullar (now 11-3) and Strahinja Gavrilovic (now 8-6) put on a serious show for the fans with Bhullar taking the unanimous decision win.
Bhullar was able to land plenty of significant shots that didn’t seem to phase Gavrilovic and Bhullar said that wasn’t a surprise.
“I knew 100 per cent he was going to be that tough,” said Bhullar in his post-fight interview.
“Like I said in the interviews, me and Strahinja trained in the past and he was like that to spar. He would just take shots and keep coming forward. He’s a super tough guy. I know we talked a lot of s**t coming into the fight, but I have nothing but respect for the dude. He’s super tough and he proved it tonight.”
Bhullar moves to 3-1 since his UFC departure last year, racking up four fights in an eight-month span.
Formerly the Unified MMA middleweight champion, Bhullar said he’s not focused on climbing his way back to winning the belt again.
“I don’t care about that (winning titles). What I’m most concerned about is getting in the ring and continuing to keep competing,” said Bhullar.
“I want to stay active, I want to get better. I even know in this fight I made some mistakes that I need to rectify and I’m really wearing them right now.”
Once a popular face on the Canadian MMA scene, Ryan Ford (now 23-5) made his return to the cage after over seven years away, and did so successfully, submitting Dawond Pickney (now 18-16) in the second round.
Ford was always a big crowd draw when he took to the cage over seven years ago and nothing changed in that regard as the loudest cheers of the night came following Ford’s win.
“I’m E-town’s king of combat. I put on for my city and the city supports me,” said Ford in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I make sure that ever since I started fighting I respect everybody who comes here. They show me all the support and I have to make sure I give it back to them one way or another. People don’t understand without fans we don’t get paid. That’s the big thing with me, I’m the guy who will stand here and take pictures with everybody because that’s the way it’s gotta be.”
With his first MMA bout in over seven years now in the books, Ford said this was not a one-off.
He said he plans on remaining active in the cage, while also continuing his boxing career simultaneously.
“I’m going to fight MMA. If I get a call for boxing, I’m going to go back to boxing. I’m going to do both sports. For me, I just want to stay active. If it makes dollars it makes sense. The Real Deal is back, so if you want me in the cage, send me a message. But you better make sure you send those dollar signs too because you saw what I bring here.”
Neal Anderson, Zack Powell, Ali Charkie, Mac Laursen, Tony Rojas, Shane Bell and Connor Krebs also left Unified MMA 43 victorious.