The inaugural Modern Fighting Championship event will go down Feb. 23 in Saskatoon, Sask., and three Alberta-based fighters will look to steal the show.
Calgary-based fighters Patrick Ward and Chad Anheliger, along with Grande Prairie’s Alex Martinez will all make the trek east to compete in Modern FC 1 at the Saskatoon Soccer Centre.
In the main event of the evening, Ward (1-1) will be competing for the Modern FC bantamweight title against Denys Zelenskiy (6-0).
Although his record have some fans wondering how he secured this title shot, Ward said he’s about to show them all why.
“I had a long amateur career, and I’ve been training since I was seven years old. I’m not scared of taking on challenges,” said Ward in an interview.
“For those who don’t know who I am and are wondering how I got a title shot after just two pro fights, I’m going to show them on Feb. 23, and they’re going to remember my name after that.”
On paper, Ward, 27, faces a tall task in Zelenskiy, who has all six of his wins by finish.
But despite his undefeated record and history of finishing opponents, Ward said he’s not impressed.
“All the guys he fought, I’ll take care of them in one night, no problem,” said Ward.
“The only thing I see when I look at Denis is a short, stocky guy. I don’t look at his record or finishes because none of that matters.”
Anheliger Seeks Fifth-Straight
In the co-main event, Anheliger (6-5) will look to extend his win streak to five straight when he takes on another experienced fighter in Saskatoon’s own Eric Wilson (7-7) in a professional bantamweight bout.
After seeing his record drop to 2-5 following a loss at Hard Knocks 37 in 2014, Anheliger, 31, felt it was time for a change. He made the move to Champions Creed MMA from Canuckles MMA following the loss, and has yet to taste defeat since.
“Nothing against my old gym; I still love all the guys and my coach, but I just needed to push myself out of my comfort zone and into somewhere new where I thought the best guys were. And that was Champions Creed,” said Anheliger in an interview.
“I switched over there, trained for about a year and a half, started fighting again, and I’ve won four in a row since. It’s pretty hard to deny what’s been working for me.”
Much like himself, Anheliger’s opponent, Wilson, has a hefty amount of experience under his belt.
Although he said he has a lot of respect for Wilson and his skills, Anheliger feels he’s superior in all areas, and expects to have his hand raised in the end.
“There’s a lot of different ways this fight can go down, but either way it’ll be the way I want,” said Anheliger.
“I feel like I’m better than Eric everywhere. Not that he isn’t skilled, not that he isn’t tough, but he just doesn’t have what I have.”
Martinez Still Undefeated
In an intriguing matchup between two young prospects, Martinez (3-0) will look to maintain his undefeated professional record in a tough lightweight matchup with Adam Wayne (3-1).
Martinez, 23, said although he’s had a good look at some of Wayne’s past fights, he needs to be prepared in all facets of the game when facing such a skilled and athletic opponent.
“I always just focus on myself to improve what must be improved, which is everything. You have to be good everywhere,” said Martinez in an interview.
“We’re not going to go and just explore one part. We have to do what we must do, which is adapt.”
Although he only has three professional fights, Martinez had a much longer amateur career than most fighters, competing in 19 total bouts.
It's a SILVER MEDAL for our Alex Martinez at the 2016 World Amateur MMA Championships – huge CONGRATS to him and… https://t.co/WorsUQnwDw
— IMMAF Canada (@IMMAF_Can) July 10, 2016
He said having so much experience under his belt from his amateur career has really helped him in the transition to professional, as is displayed by his unblemished record.
“It was the greatest choice I ever made. Some people might think it was a little too much, but at the end of the day, look at me now. It’s going very well,” said Martinez.
“It’s really translated well into my professional career, which is amazing.”