With four events taking place across the country over the weekend, there was no shortage of MMA action in Canada.
Leading the way was a stacked Unified MMA 44 card on Friday night which saw Unified MMA make its debut in Calgary, Alta.
In the main event, Noah Ali (now 11-5-1) emerged victorious in a five-round war with Gabe Sagman (now 7-5), taking the unanimous decision and becoming the new Unified MMA bantamweight champion in the process.
After over two years off and enduring a tough training camp, Ali said he’s proud of his performance and the outcome.
“I’m impressed actually. I’ve been off for awhile, lots of injuries this fight camp and I’m just happy I won,” said Ali in his post-fight interview in the cage.
Over the course of five rounds, this fight was contested both on the feet and on the mat.
Although on the ground is where Sagman is strongest, Ali said he felt just as confident there as he did on the feet.
“Even when he was on top of me I felt I was giving him more damage. I think I first cut him open from the bottom and then I just kept opening up.”
In the co-main event, Tom O’Connor (now 10-2) found the winning rear-naked choke submission in the third round to defeat John Nguyen (now 4-3) in what was an entertaining bout up until the finish.
Although Nguyen was able to find success early in the fight, O’Connor said he executed his game plan exactly how he planned and is pleased with the result.
“I did what I wanted to do and just came out and employed my game plan, pressure style and mix it up. I didn’t want it to be one dimensional. I wanted to strike, grapple, wrestle and put everything together and be a hybrid MMA fighter,” said O’Connor in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I wanted to bring the Big Nasty style, which is pressure style, no quit and let them break before I break. I think everything went good and the crowd in Calgary showed up for me too. He was hometown, but I was essentially hometown as well. It was so good to fight in front of my friends and family again, which I don’t get to do very often.”
The only drawback to the week for O’Connor was missing weight as he weighed in at 149 pounds for the featherweight bout.
Despite the weight miss, O’Connor said he will still look to compete at both featherweight and lightweight moving forward and also hopes to be back in the Unified MMA cage in the future.
“I really loved fighting for Unified, so as long as opportunities are here I’ll continue here,” said O’Connor.
“I’m looking to still master 145, but I like both weight classes. Just want to keep improving, keep getting good opportunities, good fights, keep learning, fighting and climbing the ranks.”
In what was undoubtedly fight of the year so far in Canadian MMA, Tim Smith (now 16-12) took the unanimous decision over Curtis Demarce (now 18-17) in their lightweight thriller.
Smith said he needs to go back and rewatch the fight to truly appreciate the show he and Demarce put on, but said he’s just happy to be back in the win column.
“It was great to fight in my new city of Calgary where I live now. I’ve been putting in a lot of work for this fight and I honestly need to go back and rewatch it on Fight Pass and see the fight. I remember bits and pieces of it, little flashbacks, but I have to watch the whole thing to get an overview of it,” said Smith in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I’m definitely happy to be back in the win column and happy with all my new coaches and teammates and looking forward to coming back even stronger for my next one.”
Following his last loss to Behrang Yousefi at Unified MMA 41, Smith announced he was retiring from the sport of MMA.
But, after making a plethora of changes with his entire team, Smith felt he still had plenty more to offer inside the cage and decided to make a return.
“What happened was it was my fourth loss in a row and I kind of felt like I didn’t give it my all when I was in there, so I felt like I was getting too old, I was done,” said Smith.
“But in my training I’m keeping up with all the young guys and I love to fight, so I hired Josh Hill from Cerebral Champion. He’s my mental performance coach and I did a bunch of work on the mental side of things. Fighting’s 90 per cent mental; I always heard that and now I know that to be true. I did that and started working with a professional strength and conditioning coach, Kenny Dusseault from Dusseault Strength and Conditioning. I changed camps and went to Dunamis with Jake Peacock, Kodokan with Randy Chung, and I got all new teammates, all new coaches behind me. It was like a whole new fire was lit beneath me and I know I got lots left in me and I hope I showed that tonight and I’ll definitely come back and show that in my next one.”
Also on Friday night, Samourai MMA held their second event with Samourai MMA 2 taking place in Montreal, Que.
The main event was a quick one as Robert Seres (now 5-3) need just 11 seconds to put out Kevin Genereux (now 4-4).
Other notable wins on the card saw top prospect Frederik Dupras earn another first round finish, while Craig Shintani submitted jiu-jitsu ace Maxime Poulin.
The full results for Samourai MMA 2 can be viewed here.
Rounding out the triple-header on Friday night was Mamba Fight League 10, which was an all-amateur event with five MMA bouts taking place.
In the main event, Ian Stuart defeated Jesse Bull to become the new Mamba Fight League amateur lightweight champion.
The full results for Mamba Fight League 10 can be viewed here.
Wrapping up the four-event weekend for Canadian MMA was the another all-amateur event in MFL 21 in Montreal.
It was a fully-loaded card with a total of 14 MMA bouts taking place. The MMA main event saw Quinn Blacksmith emerge as the new MFL amateur heavyweight champion after defeating Jeff Fuchs in the second round.
The full results for MFL 21 can be viewed here.