Make that Four – Instinct Signs Another Ringside Champion
Stephane Pelletier has joined the exodus of Ringside champions to Quebec competitor Instinct MMA, becoming the fourth title-holder to depart over the course of the last year.
With a new five-fight contract in place, the 26 year-old Bantamweight will be back in action shortly, set to face an as-yet unnamed opponent at Instinct’s third event on February 25 in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Pelltetier, 5-1, is coming off a solid 2011 that saw him defeat Maxime Fecteau via bloody TKO at Rising Star 1, arm-bar Michael Pellerin at Rising Star 2, and finally win his title via TKO in June at Ringside 11, after Dimitri Waardenburg injured his shoulder.
Originally set to face ex-Featherweight champ Mitch Gagnon last October at Ringside 12 in what would have been his toughest test to date, Pelletier was ultimately forced out by a foot injury. Gagnon, who instead beat Bo Harris, has since moved up to the UFC.
Pelletier’s signing marks Instinct president Stephane Patry’s latest effort to undermine provincial competitor Ringside (RS), who had groomed Pelletier since his 2009 debut. The move follows a rash of acquisitions in the second half of 2011, including Steve Bossé (ex-RS Light-Heavyweight champ), Chris Clements (ex-RS Welterweight champ), and Daron Cruickshank (ex-RS Lightweight champ).
To date, only Bossé has competed with Instinct, earning a violent KO over UFC vet Houston Alexander in October. Clements makes his big league debut at UFC 145 in Montreal, having never defended his RS belt or competed in Instinct. Cruickshank has yet to make his promotional debut.
Along with the departure of Gagnon, this latest news leaves the Ringside title situation in tatters, with every weight division now effectively without champion. Little has been heard from the promotion and its promoter Eric Champoux since its last event in October, apart from the potential addition of a new investor, and an expected return in the first half of 2012. UPDATE: A Ringside representative sent me information stating the promotion will be back March 17 in Montreal at the Metropolis, and will return to the Bell Centre on May 25.
Pelletier, based out of Juvaldo MMA in his native Val D’Or, Quebec, also trains at Tristar in Montreal. He currently sits just outside of the top ten in the Canadian Bantamweight rankings. His five wins have come via finish (2 submissions, 3 TKOs), all under the Ringside umbrella. His sole loss was a decision to Mike Hong in 2010 at Wreck MMA 2.
For a taste of Pelletier’s personality, check out his Ringside 12 post-fight interview with Top MMA News’s Don Wilson.