Elias Theodorou, Josh Kwiatkowski, Russ McCumber all victorious in professional MMA return to Canada at Rise FC 6

Professional MMA made its return to Canada last night at Rise FC 6 in Victoria, B.C. after a one-plus year absence due to COVID-19.

In the middleweight main event, Elias Theodorou (now 18-3) put on a dominant performance in a battle with fellow UFC veteran Matt Dwyer (now 11-8), en route to a third round TKO victory.

Prior to Dwyer accepting the fight, Theodorou was having trouble finding a fellow Canadian to share the cage with him and he said he’s grateful and honoured to have shared the cage with Dwyer.

“It was an honour to fight Matt Dwyer. He’s a true veteran, a true badass, and the only person in Canada who would step up and fight me,” said Theodorou in his post-fight interview.

“He came here to win, not just to fight. It was an honour to step in the cage with him, but I already know that I’m one of the best in the world and I’m showing it each and every single time I’m getting back in the cage.”

It was more than just any regular fight for Theodorou, however, as he became the first fighter to be able to compete with a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis.

Theodorou said he’s had plenty of offers from bigger organizations since his UFC release, but felt it was important to continue his push against the stigma towards cannabis.

“I had the opportunity to fight in different leagues, great opponents, but I’m someone that likes to finish what he started, both in the cage and outside the cage,” said Theodorou.

“I wanted to make the history-making therapeutic use exemption, what I’ve been fighting so hard for inside the cage and out, not only for myself, but for other athletes.”

Kwiatkowski continues to roll

In the co-main event, Josh Kwiatkowski (now 5-2) was able to secure his fourth win in a row after a first round TKO stoppage of Blake Sigvaldason (now 3-3).

After fending off the takedown attempts of Sigvaldason, Kwiatkowski began landing multiple elbows on the feet, eventually dropping Sigvaldason and forcing the referee to step in after more elbows on the ground.

“The fight went fairly how I expected. I knew Blake was going to want to shoot sooner rather than later, but I had a feeling he was going to move around with me and feel it out a little more than he did,” said Kwiatkowski in an interview with MMA Empire.

“I knew that Toshido and Blake probably thought I had some holes in my wrestling and grappling game, and they never got to test that because they never got me down. I’ve been working on my takedown defence and my grappling lots and lots over this past year, so good luck to the next homie.”

Now sitting at 5-2 and holding that four-fight win and finish streak, Kwiatkowski has likely set himself up with a matchup with another rising featherweight prospect.

Kwiatkowski said there’s only one name on his mind right now for who he wants to share the cage with next, and that’s Lucas Neufeld.

“Please fight gods, please give me some good news. Let us fight already, god damnit. He wants to fight me, I want to fight him, he’s tough as f**k, I’m tough as f**k, so let’s go,” said Kwiatkowski.

“I think Lucas is a good kid and one of the better prospects around. Other than me, he’s the next big thing for a short white guy in Canada for fighting, and I want to prove to people I can finish him.”

McCumber savage in pro debut

In the opening bout of the evening, Russ McCumber (now 1-0) had a professional debut to remember, scoring the second round TKO victory over fellow debuting professional Isaiah Metituk (now 0-1).

After a back and forth first round, McCumber was able to land two solid knees in the clinch, which opened up a massive cut between Metituk’s eyes and forced the referee to call an end to the action, per the doctor’s advice.

Russ McCumber
Via Russ McCumber Instagram

“I felt like I just kneed a wall or something. It was just so solid, and I thought okay, yeah that did some damage,” said McCumber in an interview with MMA Empire.

“I got a good glimpse of his face and there was just a massive gash between his eyes, and I knew there was no way it was continuing on.”

It was a long journey for McCumber to making his professional debut, who had his first amateur fight way back in 2010.

McCumber said it felt great to finally realize a dream he’s had since he was a teenager, even more so considering it felt like it may never happen for him.

“I’ve almost been emotional the past couple days because this is something I’ve been working towards since I was 15, so for 14 years this is something I’ve kind of been dreaming about,” said McCumber.

“Once the opportunity came, it was kind of overwhelming because I was trying to go pro after my last fight in Feb. 2020, but then of course the whole world shut down. It felt like it was just something that was never going to happen.”

McCumber’s Shoutouts

“TCF Contracting, Nootropics and Supplements, Orca Masonry Ltd., BCRCC, MGM Mechanical, Hilmark Boats.”