With Montreal Fight League being the only promotion currently running in Canada, Ramil Kamilov and Duncan Henry were eager to jump onboard.
Kamilov, 23, is the only competitor making the trip from Western Canada to compete on the card, and he said the decision to do so was an easy one.
Kamilov’s last fight was in Nov. 2019 at the IMMAF World Championships, where he would go on to fall to Islam Bagomedov (11-0) in the first round, a result that left him wanting to redeem himself.
“I’m a fighter, and I want to fight. My last loss, I was so unhappy with it and so fired up after it,” said Kamilov in an interview with MMA Empire.
“You can’t imagine how upsetting and embarrassing it was. I went in debt $3,500 to go there, get matched up with that guy, and lose one minute in after all the hype. That’s a f**ked up feeling.”
For Henry, 30, this will be his first time back in MMA competition since a first round submission win over Maxime Fournier in Oct. 2016.
Although it’s been nearly four years since his last fight, Henry said he believes the layoff could end up being a positive for him.
“The layoff will be good, considering I’ll be going in there with no injuries, and just more hungry to fight,” said Henry in an interview with MMA Empire.
Kamilov improved after IMMAF
Although he didn’t leave with the result he wanted at the IMMAF World Championships, Kamilov said it was a real eye-opener for him.
He said he took a lot away from the experience, and was able to see what it’s going to take to be successful in the sport going forward.
“There’s a boom in MMA happening around the world right now. It’s not so much seen in Canada, but when I was sitting on the bus with all the flag carriers, I had the worst record out of all of them. Just seeing how deep the level is and how it’s going to be in 10 years,” said Kamilov.
“Technique-wise and physically, the biggest thing I learned from other teams was about mixing up the strikes and the grappling. I have a lot of new ways to do that now.”
Kamilov said although the majority of their sparring rounds aren’t all-out, he still takes away plenty of knowledge overall from training with Dawodu.
“I give him good rounds sometimes, but that’s because we’re used to each others styles, so it’s not the same as if I was sparring him for the first time,” said Kamilov.
“Overall, it makes me sharper and I do learn some things.”
Kamilov and Henry were originally supposed to face-off last month at MFL 17 before the fight was cancelled due to a mandatory quarantine ruling for out-of-province travellers.
Kamilov said he was happy to be matched up again with Henry because this is a fight he’s wanted since before he made his amateur debut.
“The reason I wanted this fight is because I watched him fight Mike Parsons back before I even had my debut. When I watched that fight, I wanted to fight the both of them before I even had an MMA fight because I knew I could beat both of them,” said Kamilov.
“I see this fight playing out very well for me.”
Henry believes he has the edge everywhere
With four of his six amateur wins coming via rear-naked choke, Henry has proven to be a threat on the ground.
But whether the fight does go to the mat or stays on the feet, Henry said he feels he has the edge everywhere.
“To be honest, I feel everywhere will be an advantage for me,” said Henry.
“It doesn’t really matter where the fight takes place, on the ground, standing up, in the clinch, against the cage, I feel like I’ll be better than him in every aspect of the fight.”
After dropping back-to-back fights to Parsons and Todd Elvrum, Henry was successful in getting back on track against Fournier his last time out.
Henry said he learned, from that fight, the importance taking his time, picking his spots, and staying patient, which is what he plans to continue doing Saturday night.
“I need to stand up more and get more comfortable on the feet instead of rushing it to the floor or rushing the knockout,” said Henry.
“Hopefully I can carry that over into this fight as well.”
Similar to the majority of MMA events being held around the world presently, MFL 18 will be taking place with no crowd in attendance.
This will be Henry’s first time competing in this type of atmosphere, and he said he feels it’s going to bring out the best in a lot of fighters.
“The no crowd thing is going to help a lot of people perform at their best. You’re going to see a lot of fighters come there and show what they’re capable of without having to battle the nerves or jitters that go along with fighting in front of a live crowd,” said Henry.
“Yeah, there’s going to be pay-per-view, but those eyes aren’t there jeering or screaming, so I think you’re going to see a lot of good talent come out without having a crowd there.”
“I just really appreciate the whole MFL team, Joel at MMA Empire, and anyone else who’s continuing to cover sporting events and giving people something to do on a Saturday night.” Follow Henry on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM