KOTC Catalyst Recap
In several ways, King Of The Cage: Catalyst was a long night for Vernon B.C.’s MMA fans. The card itself, which featured thirteen fights, did not end until nearly midnight. On top of that, local amateur fighter Tyson Veitch, who had many vocal supporters in attendance, tapped to a rear naked choke, giving CJ Bagg a second-round victory. Other amateur winners included Kamryn Winter and Cam Deleume
The professional card that followed featured a surprising number of come from behind victories, which caused a thrilling roller coaster effect that seemed to wear the crowd’s nerves a bit thin.
First, after controlling much of the first round, Leif Optland was forced to quit in the second due to a cut caused by an elbow from Nanaimo’s Ryan Billingal. After that, Graham Spencer, who also hails from Nanaimo, bounced back from a tough opening round to win a unanimous decision over Wesley Neil. Other notable comebacks winners included Joe Verbeetan, who locked in a second-round submission on Rakan Khatib, and Kelowna’s Brendan Frost who started a bit slow, but used powerful overhand punches to crumple his opponent, Unpeet Rai, in the third round.
Alongside these unpredictable fights, Vernon’s frazzled fight fans also enjoyed some of Catalyst’s devastating finishes.
First,Trail B.C.’s Darcy James sent Chad Bellwood of Kamloops to the mat with some well-timed knees from the clinch. James had also impressed fans by escaping a fully-locked-in arm bar mere moments earlier. A short time later, Revolution Fight Team’s Colin Daynes enjoyed a dominant first round TKO over Kelowna’s Mike Reid. The finish was set up by a textbook belly-to-belly suplex. Daynes’ Revolution teammate, Matt Baker, wasn’t so lucky. Despite opening up an early cut on his opponent Clay Davidson, Baker succumbed to a first-round rear naked choke, set up by a barrage of strikes from back-mount. Finally, Trail’s Del Melnyk stunned Brian Coldwell, as well as his numerous vocal supporters, when he finished the Westbank, B.C. brawler via K.O. in the final seconds of the second round.
That left just two fights on the card.
The night’s co-main event was billed as in International Super-Fight between Brazil’s Vinicius Lemos and South Korea’s Chang Hyun “Arm Bar” Kim. Both men boasted connections to major MMA stars with Lemos having trained extensively with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, while “Arm Bar” Kim is a longtime training partner of undefeated UFC welterweight Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim. Lemos opened up an early cut on the bridge of Kim’s nose, but that didn’t stop the feisty Korean from edging out a clear-cut unanimous decision victory. Both fighters demonstrated amazing resilience, with Kim’s powerful slams and pin-point striking tilting the judges cards in his favour. Kim has made it known that he hopes to continue fighting in Canada. He built the bulk of his 15-5 record in Japan and South Korea and now dreams of becoming a well-known MMA name in North American. Lemos, who fought well even in defeat, will return to Brazil in early December, which was his plan going into the fight.
It was past 11:30 pm when the main event fighters finally took their places inside the cage. Those fan who remained in attendance were treated to a quick, one-sided drubbing of Jason Volpe at the hands of Revolution Fight Team’s Ryan Chiappe. After a lengthy feeling out period, Chiappe scored a takedown, which led to the Revolution fighter taking Volpe’s back. Soon after, Volpe tapped to the fifth rear naked choke of the night. The victory must have been a relief for Chiappe and his team who came close to obtaining the very same “KOTC Canadian Middleweight Title” in July before Chiappe lost his first fight with Volpe by DQ, due to an eye-poke. There were no such controversies four months later in Saturday’s rematch.
When it finally concluded, King Of The Cage: Catalyst at Vernon’s Wesbild Centre featured a satisfying mix of dominant finishes and impressive come-from-behind wins. Fans who stayed put for the entire card undeniably received their money’s worth of MMA action.
* Josh Oliveira also writes for BC MMA Fan