Fight Quest 14 Recap
I’m sorry, but I’m unable to recap Fight Quest 14. I know I told Keith I could do it, and God be my witness, I tried to sit down and watch every fight. Any match maker/promoter will tell you though, a lot of things happens behind the curtain and when you’re accountable for your show, enjoying the show with a beer in your hand is not an option. Enjoyment for promoters start when people leave the venue. And that’s if everything went smoothly. In the opposite case, nightmares, heart burns and apologetic phone calls are never too far away.
I can’t do a proper recap, but I can write about that night. As usual, the atmosphere was wilder than a pagan bacchanalia and the action worth way more than the nominal entrence fee. No, I didn’t see all the fights. I ran across the Skratch’s mezzanine continuously, like a demented superball, fed by the human fuel that is Rage Liquid Energy (notice the sponsored reference here). There were drunk people getting in the way, a few questionnable calls from the refs and the comission, the usual hassle. With fifteen fights on the card, the hassle was bigger than usual. I did stop and watch a few fights though. I took some of my time to watch those who share sweat and blood with me every week at the gym.
Young Cristian Mardari was first on the list. I took the decision to put the young and flamboyant eastern european on the card. Cris joined the gym two years ago with a Karate background and an attitude problem. He was all jumping kicks and no discipline. I am sure every gym has one of those. With two years to mull over his shortcomings, watching other people bypass him on the way to Fight Quest, I have witnessed the ignition of the fire within Cristian. The very fire that illuminates your eyes and tells me you are a fighter.
Cristian started improving at a scary pace, using his quickness and agility to fight with the bigger and even smaller guys. He sparred with heavyweights without much problems. I knew he was too good for a 0-0 guy, so David Bolduc from Spartan Fight Club stepped up. He was 2-0. Bolduc surprises Cris right of the bat with his crisp boxing, but the young prodigy sent the Jonquière fighter on the mat with a picture perfect single leg takedown and from there, things were downhill for Claude Perron’s protegé. Cris postured up in Bolduc’s half guard and started throwing looping punches. Bolduc turned over to protect himelf, so Cris took his back and after a light struggle, choked him out. He looked as good as in sparring, if not better, but he’s going to be hard to match in the future.
My boy Johnny Ouellette was also on the program. The one I call ”spiritual heir to Bruce Lee” racked up an impressive 5-0 record within one year, but spent the last one on the injured list. He was supposed to showdown against Team Shredder’s standout Matt Demore last May, but the day before the fight, he broke his middle toe in such a brutal way I cringed to look at the X-Rays. He underwent surgery for it, which was a first, according to Zahabi MMA resident doctor Sebastien Simard.
He was booked to face local amateur gatekeeper Maxime Després. Fighting Després in Fight Quest is the equivalent of fighting Gary Goodridge or Yves Edwards. If you’re the real deal, you’re going to beat him, if not, he’s going to expose you. So far so good for Johnny, who gave a Muay Thai clinic in Després who was game, but outmatched. The Sparmax fighter tried his best to match his strikes, but came up short against Ouellette’s speed and angles. Després ran to his own demise when he tried to take Ouellette down in round 2. He got trapped in an fight ending Anaconda Choke, being the third opponent in a row Johnny finishes in similar fashion. Man loves his Anaconda!
Patrick Lafleur was another fighter I had interest in seeing fight. I had matched him up with undefeated Mohamed Moustaine from Sparmax. Patrick has a lot of fights due to his UMF days, but he’s still green as a fighter and the taller, bigger, undefeated Moustaine worried me. Did I take the right decision to match those two? What was clear from the get go was that Moustaine was a lot bigger and he knew how to utilize his size. He muscled Pat to the ground multiple times and stayed out of trouble, using smart ground and pound attacks. He would have won the first round if he wouldn’t have spike Pat on his head to get out of an armbar.
Second ground was more of that same suffocating top control by Moustaine. He slowed down the explosive Lafleur and made him fight his fight. He had to use a lot of energy to keep Pat in place and gradually, Pat started gnawing at Moustaine, getting back up again and again. This is a trend I noticed from Eric O’Keefe’s fighters. Before joining Zahabi MMA this year, Lafleur was fighting out of Force Xtreme in Sherbrooke. Since Eric O’Keefe has started taking some of their fighters under his wing, they started showing a very important skill. Even against the odds, they keep fighting smart and they keep looking for ways to win. Steve Bégin was also outmatched on the boxing against Drummonville’s Jeff Breau that same night. Bégin grinded his way to victory using his size to force Breau into a clinch war. That said, Lafleur also won his fight and even finished it. In the third round, Moustaine shot for sloppy takedown and Pat made the best of it. He secured an airtight guillotine that made the Sparmax fighter tap.
Other Zahabi MMA fighters were on the card. Mo Yang, Brandon Stalk and Devin Kirby among others, who are also occasionally sparring under my supervision on Wednesday nights. Mo won a lopsided decision and Brandon same victorious in a trench war against Jean-Frédérick Gauron, a promising Sparmax fighter. Devin lost a split decision to scrappy Derek Dexter from Cornwall. He appeared in control for a while, but Dexter was able to capitalize on Devin’s over-agressiveness and turn the tides. Experience dictated the outcome of the fights. Hats off to Cornwall MMA!
Neil Sheppard, Mustafa El-Zanaty, Joey Barnes and Louie Sanoudakis from Zahabi MMA also won their fights. They do most of their sparring in the Friday morning session with the professionals. They all performed very good, at their full capacity. Louie and Joey were involved in the two controversies of the night. Both fighting Kanreikai fighters, Joey performed an illegal slam on Danny Villeneuve, which went unnoticed by the refereee. Villeneuve didn’t seem too worried about it afterwards telling me: ”I rather lose by decision than win by DQ”.
Louis was fighting rugged veteran Maxime Fecteau and capitalized on an unclear rule to get the finish. The referee slapped Fecteau’s hand as he was holding the glove. Fecteau looked at him in confusion, leaving his neck unprotected for Sanoudakis to finish. In both case, the rules were at the heart of the problem and the fighters were not to blame. In the heat of the moment, you can do a lot of wrong things. That’s why there’s a referee and a commission. Needless to say, it means more work for me next time. I don’t want rule stretching under my watch.
The Grand Finale was the fight I tried to do for a long while now. Ian ”Not So Tranquille” Perron Vs Jason ”The Spartan” Courchesne. I was torn. Ian is my friend, and Jason is a favorite of Fight Quest. Stephane and I both saw the potential shining bright in him from his first fight. But there can be only one best. The night belonged to Courchesne. Even if Ian dwarfed him, the weight cut might have affected the Montrealer and his wrestling-based gameplan proved to be erroneous against the Joliette juggernaut.
Courchesne applied a ground and pound strategy to perfection. He took Perron down at will and weathered the storm whenever the Zahabi/Scantlebury project mounted attacks from the bottom. Two times, one in the first and one in the third, Couchesne was caught in an armbar, but he showed the patience of the pros and pulled himself out of trouble. During round two, he even paid himself the luxury of knocking Perron down with a right hand. At the end, the clear winner by unanimous decision was Jason Courchesne. Ian was bummed out, but it wasn’t his time to shine, that’s all. ”The Spartan” triumphed.
This is pretty much what I remember from the night. The rest is just one big blur of barechested men in the shadows, a lot of questions asked (few answers given) and dealing with the hellish task of medical discharges. I want to thank every club that participated. Next show – December 4th! Be there, it’s going to be crazy…as usual!