Rempel’s Recap – WSOF Canada Ford vs Powell
World Series of Fighting Canada made their official debut this weekend in Edmonton, Alberta. Darren Owen and Steve Fader who became Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer respectively after the Aggression Fighting Championship buyout/merger brought the fans a huge fight card packed with Top Canadian ranked talent. Over 2000 fans showed up to the Edmonton Expo Centre and were treated to an entertaining and well run event. The crowd packed the arena right from the early prelims with huge reactions for the likes of local favorites Roger Alves, Tim Hague, Mark Drummond and, of course, Edmonton’s most popular superstar Ryan “The Real Deal” Ford. Even a couple of the out of towners like Matt Baker and Smealinho Rama had sizable cheering sections. The production value was somewhere between the old Aggression fight cards and the WSOF big shows and gave the audience some solid bang for their buck.
Can anyone still argue that there is a better Canadian Welterweight that is not signed to the UFC roster? Ryan Ford continues to prove time and time again that he belongs fighting the top Welterweights in the world. Joel Powell was supposed to be a big test for Ford, however that thought and possibly Powell’s jaw were shattered in just 0:53 seconds on Friday night. Ford put Powell to sleep with an incredible front kick KO reminiscent of Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort for his fastest win in over four years. Ford captured the WSOF Canada Welterweight title to add to his collection that already includes the Aggression, TFC Canadian and TFC World titles. The only question left to ask is… Is there anyone left for Ford in Canada or is he ready to face the best the WSOF Welterweight roster has to offer, more on that later!
Very few people gave Smealinho Rama a chance in his fight against Olympian and top Heavyweight prospect Steve Mocco, with one detractor going so far as to say it made him “sick to his stomach”. Rama, however, was not deterred and looked confident right from the weigh ins all the way through the fight. Rama managed not to get stifled by the NCAA Division 1 champion wrestler, managing to work back to his feet a couple times, pulled off sweeps and stuffed takedowns. When Mocco was able to take Rama down, his gas tank did not allow him to mount any significant offence. Rama was able to get the better of the exchanges on the feet and came close to finishing Mocco with a flurry in the third round. Rama ends up taking a Unanimous Decision on the judges’ scorecards and Mocco’s gas tank likely cost him the fight and gave Rama his biggest career win when he really needed it. With the victory, Rama has become the first man to register a win over the 2008 Olympic Wrestling team that included Mocco along with Daniel Cormier, Ben Askren and Henry Cejudo.
Ryan Dickson has had a helluva time finding opponents who are willing and able to fight him. Well that was not a problem on this night when he met Ultimate Fighter veteran Michael Hill who was more than willing to give Dickson a good scrap! Dickson looked to work for takedowns and control Hill on the ground early but Hill was able to keep the fight standing for the most part and gain the advantage on the feet. Hill bloodied Dickson up with a strong vicious flurry early in the second round and dropped him a couple times nearly forcing the referee to step in but Dickson weathered the storm and came back to win a narrow third round but fell short on the judges’ scorecards in a fight of the night performance. Although that will likely be of little consolation to Dickson.
Josh Machan has been setting the Featherweight division on fire in recent years, rattling off 11 wins in his last 12 fights with his only loss coming at Lightweight to the UFC’s Mitch Clarke. Although Adam Lorenz has been on a two fight losing streak, he gave Josh Machan all he could handle on Friday night with the two men trading shots and going back and forth with neither man able to gain a definitive advantage. Entering the third round, it was either man’s fight as neither man did enough to guarantee the judges’ favor and only about a minute in Lorenz locked in a guillotine attempt and refused to let go for the next four minutes. Unfortunately for Lorenz, the submission attempt was not enough for the decision as Machan took the split nod on the scorecards and took one step closer to perhaps a WSOF Canada Featherweight title shot. Machan has climbed to as high as third on the Canadian Featherweight rankings, although after Friday night’s victory, coupled with the inactivity of Antonio Carvalho and Graham Spencer, he could top the list next time the rankings are updated.
Brandt Dewsbery entered this bout on a two fight losing streak and was lucky to make this bout as he suffered a vicious submission loss to Sergej Juskevic at Hard Knocks barely a month prior. That did not stop him from controlling Mark Drummond with a barrage of lefts kicks and punches before taking Drummond to the ground and sinking a rear naked choke forcing the Complete Martial Arts and Fitness product to tap and putting an end to his five fight win streak. Dewsbery earned himself a submission of the night award and likely a tougher test in his next bout with WSOF Canada.
The bout between Lenny Wheeler and Will Romero, in my opinion, unfairly slipped to the preliminary card on the lineup when the Mocco/Rama fight was added but WSOF Canada later made up for it by expanding the main card to include this as the opener. The action began fast and furious and looked to be the start of a fantastic fight and was very entertaining with both men connecting with big shots and Wheeler dropping Romero twice in the opening minutes. They take turns dropping the other with huge shots and it looks like either man could win this one. Early on this fight has the makings of a classic and Romero again drops Wheeler this time pouncing on him and firing away with huge punches that seem to put Wheeler out and referee Vern Gorman steps in and Romero begins to celebrate but it appears that Gorman has called for the doctor due to some blows to the back of the head. Wheeler stands, takes a few steps towards the referee and falls backwards in what could be bad acting or just a delayed reaction. Wheeler is checked on by the doctor but every time he tries to stand he looks like Bambi on ice and the bout is stopped on the doctor’s advice. A dejected Romero is forced to accept the no contest due to the unintentional foul.
There’s a new unwritten rule in MMA, If you cut your teammates knee while helping him train for a fight and the cut is infected due to your lack on dental hygiene, you must then step in on short notice and fill in for your fallen comrade. Mike Kent found himself in this situation when he knocked Teddy Ash out of this bout with a serious infection and gallantly stepped in to take on Matt Baker on just a few weeks notice. Kent cut 32 lbs in 8 days to make this Catchweight bout, looking to erase the memory of a disappointing 2013. Baker controlled the first round with his grappling prowess and looked for more of the same in the second but Kent was able to defend and Kent began to get the better of Baker on the feet in the second half of the round finishing off with some ground and pound and securing the round in his favor. They entered the third rounds even on the scorecards and Kent, despite the huge weight cut and short notice, looked to be in better shape and Kent was able to land just enough to secure the round and the victory by the narrowest of margins.
If ever there was a fight that had knockout written all over it, this was it. Tim Hague, easily Alberta’s most accomplished Heavyweight ever, and Lee Mein, a guy who has faced a plethora of UFC veterans in his nearly 15 years of professional fighting, slugged it out for much longer than anyone expected on Friday. Despite the pre-fight hug and friendly demeanor between the two Heavyweights, it was all business once the bell rang and they came out swinging. They bombarded each other with left hooks, knees and pretty much everything else they had until a Hague uppercut to the groin halted the spirited affair for a few minutes which was probably a welcome break for both men. Once they got back at it, they picked up right where they left off and exchanged more bombs and Hague dropped Mein and celebrates prematurely but after a brief grappling exchange, it’s not long before Hague gets on top and finishes him off with ground and pound. All in good fun as the two combatants embrace at the end of the fight and no doubt shared a beer or two at the after party.
Owen Carr has a bit of a reputation of being a dirty fighter and were it not for those habits rearing their ugly head in several of his bouts, he may have a much shinier record than the 4-2-1-1NC he entered the bout with. Nonetheless, Carr has put together a solid resume in his first 8 fights and continued the trend against Maged Hammo. Carr controlled the bout both on the feet and on the ground from bell to bell, looking far more polished than his opponent which could be a sign of his frequent trips to Team Alpha Male and his training with the 2013 World MMA Coach of the Year Duane “Bang” Ludwig who has turned all of his students into nearly unbeatable striking machines… and Carr did all this without the benefit of low blows, head butting or illegal upkicks! Hats off to the new “Clean” Owen Carr!
Judging by their records one might wonder what a debut fighter was doing fighting an 8 fight veteran but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Hakeem Dawodu is no ordinary debut mixed martial artist. The Calgarian holds a professional muay thai record of 7-0 not to mention a 42-5 amateur record and numerous titles. Behrang Yousefi, never one to shy away from a tough fight, was perhaps a little too willing to stand a trade with such a decorated nak muay as it took Dawodu just over a minute to relieve Yousefi from his consciousness with a vicious right hook. Here’s hoping we get to see Dawodu follow in the footsteps of fellow muay thai standouts Shane Campbell and Mukai Maromo and make a mark in the MMA world going forward.
Roger Alves has been called one of Canada’s best kept secrets. He is a phenomenal wrestling coach who teaches at both the University of Alberta and Hayabusa Training Centre. Despite being only 29 years old and not having competed in MMA in almost 10 years, Alves boasts wins over UFC veteran Jesse Bongfeldt and a much disputed split decision loss to TUF Nations competitor Kajan Johnson. Roger Alves straight up dominated Jemark Brady while there didn’t seem to be much effort put forth towards a finish from Alves, it could be reasoned that after nearly a decade away from MMA competition, he was content to treat the crowd to a wrestling clinic. Let’s hope for someone that can at least somewhat match Alves wrestling skills next time for a slightly more eventful bout.
The opening bout of the evening pitted a pair of local debuts with brief amateur backgrounds and both men came out looking to make a name for themselves. Both Stuart Fontaine and Justin Evans went toe to toe for their brief two-minute affair until Fontaine was able to take control and drop Evans, finishing with some ground and pound for his elated teammates and fans seated behind the media section.
Ryan Ford: To answer the earlier question, there is no one left in Canada outside the UFC to challenge Ryan Ford, at least not at this point in their career. Perhaps while a new contender works his way to the top, Ford is best suited for a matchup with someone like Jon Fitch, Gerald Harris or is he ready for the winner of the upcoming World Title fight between Steve Carl and Rousimar Palhares?
Smealinho Rama: Rama got back on track with a huge victory over one of the top Heavyweight prospects in North America but who should he fight next? Many are calling for a bout with Tim Hague or Kalib Starnes who along with Rama make up the Top 3 Heavyweights in Canada. But should Rama be setting his sights higher? Perhaps Andrei Arlovski would be a more tantalizing option.
Michael Hill: Where does Michael Hill go from here? A very entertaining and hard fought scrap with Ryan Dickson gained him a bit of momentum but Hill recently lost to both Ryan Ford and the most recent challenger Joel Powell. The grappling prowess of Tyson Steele could prove an interesting test for Hill if Steele is re-signed by WSOF Canda.
Joel Powell/Ryan Dickson: These two men already had their next bouts set prior to stepping into the cage in Edmonton. If the rumors are true, these two men will meet at WSOF Canada in Hamilton on April 19 providing they are both given a clean bill of health after their encounters this past weekend.
Josh Machan: While Machan was taken to a decision for the first time against Adam Lorenz and won by a thin margin, he has been blowing through the competition at Featherweight and could be in line for a WSOF Canada Featherweight title shot… Who should be the man to stand in the opposing corner? Chris Horodecki would offer a true test of whether or not Machan is ready to take the next step.
Will Romero/Lenny Wheeler: There is no question that there needs to be a rematch in the fight. You can be sure that neither fighter wanted this bout to end this way and the fans deserve to see this one play out as it had all the makings of a Fight of the Year candidate! Hit the reset button and let’s do this one again… PLEASE!