Bright Lights, Bigger City – Kelades Takes Big Step at Instinct MMA
When fighting in smaller weight class in mixed martial arts, it gets harder to find opponents that can give you a challenge. For Chris Kelades, it is hard just to find someone in his weight class to fight so the Bantamweight will go to Montreal and fight Dmitri Waardenburg at Instinct MMA Friday night. While this will be new territory for the Wolfville native, he welcomes the challenge.
“I am pretty excited and it is a good opportunity to get on a different stage and get some more national exposure and show people what I have to offer,” says Kelades.
While he comes into this fight with a 4-0 record, he has been starting to turn some heads with the two fights that he has had this year. He showed some amazing ground work in his win against Chance Whalen in May, but it was his performance at Extreme Cage Combat 12 against Justin Steele that opened people’s eyes. He dominated Justin Steele opening a huge cut on his lip and knocking him down with a liver shot for the win’.
While he was able to dominate with those two wins, it will not be a walk in the park against Waardenburg. The Quebec native will have the home crowd advantage and has tremendous knockout power. Besides his stand-up, Waardenburg has faced much better opponents in his career with the likes of Stephane Pelletier, Eric Perez and Mitch Gagnon. While Waardenburg has lost to all those fighters, Kelades knows that he is still a dangerous fighter and a big step up for him.
“I think he is one of those guys that his record reflects how good he really is,” says Kelades. “Basically they got him fighting in his hometown so they are not bringing me in to win by any means. So for me there is not a lot of pressure because people expect me to come in and lose. For me it is to go in and perform well and do what I can to get the ‘W’.”
While he thinks that he is coming to be Waardenburg’s whipping boy, he does see another side of himself being flown in to fight.
“With this, it gives me the whole opportunity to come in and get some more exposure and have bigger fights. No disrespect to guys out here locally, there are few guys here at 135 that I am able to fight. I think getting guys with more experience will show me where my skill set is at.”
Kelades’ training will be a big help for his fight. Last year, the Wolfville native decided to make the move Dartmouth and start training at Fit Plus with TJ Grant and the boys there. Before that he lived and trained in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where he started out doing jiu jitsu and grappling where he was able to win some regional medals. Little did he know that his instructor at the time, Rowan Cunningham, would go on to be an instructor at Adrenaline Training Centre in London, Ontario with the likes of Sam Stout, Mark Hominick and others. While it was hard to know at the time fighting would be a career path for Kelades, Cunningham was a big help in getting him to where he is at today.
“He was such a good teacher and he has such a good personality,” says Kelades. “He has given me a good foundation for today and what I have. Then making the move to Fit Plus was a decision on my behalf a year ago. I had to be around guys who were at the next level and wanting to push me to where I can develop to. My wife wanted to move and we talked about it and Fit Plus was definitely the place I wanted to train at. I am stoked that I made the move and train with these guys and get pushed to the next level and have Scott (Maclean) giving me these opportunities.”
Although his biggest fan may not be in La Belle Province, that fan will be there in spirit and that would be his wife Martina. During his matches, you can usually hear her cheering him over everyone else in the crowd. He knows that the support means a lot.
“It’s awesome and it’s pretty huge because her support helps me and it allows me to train and keep going,” says Kelades. “It is good to have someone in your corner rooting for you because I am away so much of the time. She is home alone and I am training a lot, working a lot. It is good to have her support for sure.”
While his wife will love Kelades either way, a win Friday night and a possible spot in the Canadian rankings would make her extra happy.
*** Photos by Martin Blais