Instinct MMA 2: Post-Event Wrap-Up
Stéphane Patry and his Instinct MMA promotion brought their brand of combat to Quebec City for their second event Friday. A few injuries later, 13 bouts took place, a majority of them ending in severely one-sided beatings.
While most cards include at least a massacre or two, the slaughter at Instinct MMA 2 was virtually non-stop. Consider… nine KO/TKOs (one via injury) and nine first round stoppages, six within 65 seconds or less.
With the event officially in the books, now seems like a good time to consider some of the stories coming out of it. For more on the fights, check out our Instinct 2 play-by-play.
- The excellent main event ended in a nice win for 40 year-old UFC/MFC vet Pete Spratt, which he tearfully dedicated to his recently deceased grandmother. Spratt was crying prior to, after, and some thought even during the fight, hinting at his mental state heading into the cage.
- The result was, however, disappointing for the live crowd and a big setback for Martin Grandmont, who ate a pair of left uppercuts on way to being finished late in the second round. As happy as he looked straddling the cage and taking in the crowd’s appreciation after his spectacular head kick KO just eight weeks ago, he looked as disappointed Friday about the loss. Post-fight word was that he’d eaten a punch to the throat late in the first that made it hard for him to breathe properly in the second round. He also mentioned on Facebook that he considered pulling out of the fight in the lead up due to doubts about his preparation, injuries, and some personal issues. Either way, the Hammer will again have to rebuild going forward.
- Friday was a tough night for main card Quebec fighters in general. Along with Grandmont’s loss, Derek Gauthier was decisioned, Tim Wadsworth knocked out, and Guillaume Lamarche submitted. Publicly, Patry’s message is that he’s as happy promoting non-Quebec fighters as he is homegrown talent. However, even he admitted that local fighters losing would likely hurt future ticket sales. Still, as he put it: “I fucking hate the promoters who just want the red corner to win. That’s not what I’m about. I bring the best fighters, and whoever wins, wins.”
- Patry didn’t offer a date for Instinct 3 post-event, saying he’ll announce one in the next week or so. When I asked for clarification, he said that he was still looking at putting on an event in early 2012, either in January, February, or possibly both. Probable locations are St-Hyacinthe or Sherbrooke for one and Montreal for the other. With Steve Bossé still recovering from injury (more on that below), and Grandmont just finished, Patry will probably have to pull someone new in to headline for January. Pat Côté perhaps? Last I spoke to him, he was still a free agent.
- Patry’s mentioned a few times that he plans to return to the Bell Centre, currently Ringside MMA’s Montreal home base. Per Patry, he’s spoken to Evenko, who have offered him three potential dates for the location. He says he wants do it “the right way,” meaning with someone like Steve Bossé headlining, which could be read as potentially February.
Speaking of the Boss… What was probably a career-best performance at Instinct 1, a vicious second round elbow KO of UFC vet Houston Alexander, resulted in another injury to his right hand, requiring surgery. If you didn’t know, Bossé’s first fighting career was as a hockey goon. Speaking to him for a piece prior to Instinct 1, he mentioned a history of chronic broken hands (and noses) during that period. His hand was still in a splint at the post-fight press conference Friday. According to Patry, the Boss recently had pins removed from the hand and should have the splint off shortly. Patry also mentioned that Bossé would probably drop from Light-Heavyweight to Middleweight sometime in the not too distant future and leaned towards a February return.
- ‘The Next GSP’ tag continues to float around. Once attached to Ringside’s Mike Ricci, it moved back to Derek Gauthier in the run-up to Friday before being planted at the event itself on Colorado’s Brandon Thatch, a Welterweight who improved to 6-1 with the evening’s quickest win, a 15 second TKO. With five first round finishes to his name, ‘the next Spider’ may be a more appropriate moniker.
- For his part, the real GSP seems to have picked Ringside as the Quebec promotion he intends to support, appearing in promotional material prior to Ringside 12. It’s worth remembering that earlier in his career Patry was Georges’ manager and promoter.
- The biggest story coming out of Thursday’s weigh-ins was that Nova Scotia’s Ricky Goodall (8-4) had missed his mark by nine pounds, coming in at 164.4 lbs for his Lightweight tilt against Derek Gauthier (7-4). In spite of the blunder, their fight was the best of the evening, one of the few where the talent level was even enough to avoid a quick one-sided finish. At the post-fight presser, Patry stated that Goodall would be back with Instinct, but he would have to fight at Welterweight next time around. I asked Goodall what was behind the big weight miss and he said it was a mix of arriving late to the hotel Wednesday and having to leave earlier than his team had planned for the weigh-in on Thursday. He did not sound particularly pleased about taking his next bout at 170, but admitted it was what he had to do to make it up to the promoter. He, however, was uncommitted to staying at that weight down the line.
- Speaking of Derek Gauthier, he earned the ‘cheap pop’ award of the night, amplifying his entrance applause by sporting a Quebec Nordiques hockey jersey. In a somewhat unique addition, Francophone rapper Sir Pathétik presaged said entrance.
- On June 1st 2007, two hockey enforcers who’d recently met on the ice made their MMA debut in Montreal at TKO 29. The first was Jon Mirasty, who got TKOed and never fought in the sport again. The other was Steve Bossé, who punched out his opponent in just over two minutes. With the emergence of ex-NHLer Donald Brashear for Ringside earlier this year and the LNAH’s Joel Theriault on Friday, one can conclude that Patry’s idea of drawing hockey fans to MMA through goons has become a model for promotional success in Quebec. Both served the MMA equivalent of tomato cans in their debut, Brashear and Theriault each delivered with 21 second TKOs. With Brashear now 39, and Theriault 35 years old, it’s unlikely they have huge careers ahead of them. However, much like Brashear, Theriault was a clear crowd favourite, probably earning the evening’s loudest pop. Post-fight, he thanked Bossé for helping with his mental preparation, and sounded like he wanted another shot in the cage. His fight has showed up on Youtube for those interested.
- Notably absent from the card Friday were former UFC fighters Phil Baroni (Grandmont’s original opponent), and Jens Pulver, who’d originally been announced for the event at Instinct 1. Per Patry, their absence was due to shoulder surgery for Baroni and visa issues for Pulver. He says he still plans to have them in his promotion, likely one at the January event, the other in February.
- Car troubles made me miss the undercard and arrive late. I mention this only because it prevented it me from taking the time to get a solid feel for the venue’s seating capacity as I normally do. According to its website, the Pavillon de la Jeunesse seats a maximum of 6000 spectators. The set-up used Friday cut off the far ends of the arena, probably dropping the capacity to somewhere in the 4000 range. When I asked Patry for the turnout post-event, he said 2900. Without having counted, the crowd looked smaller than that, with visible series of empty seats in parts of the crowd.
- Issues with the turnout weren’t helped by the fact that tickets went on sale just 20 days prior to the event, a decision Patry attributed to not wanting to sell tickets using Joel Theriault’s name until he was officially licensed to fight by the provincial commission (RACJ).
- Compared to the Colisée Pepsi, which Ringside used for its Quebec venture last June, the Pavillon was smaller (as was the attendance), but certainly far more modern looking and pleasant to report from.
- Instinct’s video production, at least live, continued to eclipse Ringside MMA’s. More coherent pre-fight packages, highlight reels, etc. were again on display in Quebec. Their more vertical entrance ramp also looks better (and is simply more visible) live than Ringside’s completely horizontal version. Having never seen either of them on TV, I’d be curious to hear readers’ thoughts on which promotion does a better job in that medium.
- The event was promoted by the Leodaris Entertainment Group, owned by George Papamikidis, Instinct’s main investor. Though he’s thus far very much been the silent partner to Stephane Patry’s ever-present promoter, he offered a few words Friday, notably repeating Patry’s line that Instinct plans to compete with the UFC. Take that for what it’s worth…
- Looking at the bigger Quebec MMA picture, Instinct’s promotional message continues to be far more coherent than Ringside’s, at least publicly. From day one, Patry’s long-term vision for Instinct has been clearer, as well as what his long and short-term plans for specific fighters is. Five fighters from his first card were back Friday and a few more would have been too if not for injuries. Post-fight, Patry took the time to address most of his fighters’ performances, and what’s next for them. Other than a handful of fighters (Alex Garcia, Mitch Gagnon, Mike Ricci, Stephane Pelletier), many impress at Ringside cards only to forever disappear from the promotion (at times with titles in tow). Ringside’s habit of going media silent for extended periods post-event also contributes to the problem.
- In the lead-up to Instinct 2, both Ringside and Instinct mentioned discussions to bring legendary Russian Heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko (32-4-1) to Montreal. Ringside mentioned a possible rematch with Brett Rogers. For his part, Patry clarified to me that while he’d already made an offer to Fedor’s management, M-1 had been offered more money in the short term to fight on a New Year’s Eve card in Japan. Patry also said he’d be open to co-promoting with M-1 if ever he did get Fedor for a fight, a normal prerequisite for using him.
- Daron Cruickshank (10-2), the newly crowned Ringside Lightweight champ who immediately jumped ship to Instinct, fought Saturday night in Sarnia, Ontario, scoring a thunderous 99 second TKO. Patry says he should make his Instinct debut this January.
- And of course, it’s only two events in, but no Instinct MMA recap would be complete without the comments of Steve Claveau, former TKO competitor, currently unlicensed fighter (if you read French, see the government’s case against him here, and his reply here and here), Ringside MMA supporter, and now seemingly Patry’s arch-enemy. On his Facebook page, Claveau continued to take time to publicly criticize Instinct, focusing this time on the matchmaking and its one-sided results, the turnout, and the entire promotional effort, though not the fighters. Clearly bad blood still burns from their years together in TKO. Patry has thus far refrained from publicly attacking Claveau, simply stating that he needs to take a look in the mirror, and that he himself is choosing to focus on Instinct.