CHRIS HOWIE REPORTING …
Halifax, NS July 14th 2007
King of the Cage brought their show to the eastern part of Canada for the first time debuting in front of roughly 2,000 fans at The Forum in Halifax, NS. The weekend’s festivities kicked off with a bang Friday afternoon on the Halifax waterfront with the weigh-ins taking place outside and the action continued well into Saturday evening when the fighters took to the cage.
The main event of the night between Jonathan Goulet and Cory MacDonald ended rather abruptly at the end of the first round when MacDonald could not continue due to an injury to his eye. MacDonald had scratched his eye earlier in the night before he stepped in the cage and during the first round a shot to the eye from Goulet caused MacDonald to lose his vision.
It was an unfortunate turn of events for MacDonald as he appeared to be in control of Goulet for most of the first round. He appeared injured seconds before the bell and was squinting and seemed to have problems seeing out of the eye. The confused crowd boo'd the decision to stop the fight but after speaking with the fighters, the crowd realized what had happened.
Afterwards KOTC promoter Ken Kupsch had the following to say, “Hopefully we can get them together for a rematch down the road. It's unfortunate it ended that way”. A rematch between the two would seem like the best idea if it had not been for Goulet's announcement that he would be dropping to 170 pounds. “This is my last fight at 185 pounds” Goulet stated. “I'm going to change my diet and drop down to 170 pounds where I feel more comfortable”.
T.J Grant made his return to Halifax to fight in front of the hometown crowd going up against Kevin Manderson. Grant would win the fight late into the first round with a rear-naked choke that he locked in once he took Manderson's back. Manderson tried to shake Grant off by slamming him hard into the mat but once they dropped Grant just locked in the choke and Manderson was forced to tap out or go to sleep.
Grant looked extremely impressive right from the bell as he came out and controlled Manderson for most of the round. Manderson for the most part had no answer for Grant's offense – especially when Grant caught Manderson in the clinch and landed four-to-five hard knees to his head. Grant will for sure be getting a lot of attention if he continues to put on performances like this one. He upped his record to 7-1 and will most likely move on to a KOTC title shot that could lead to bigger things in the future.
Alex Sung and Tim Thurston would fight to a decision in a technical fight that seen a little bit of everything. The two would be pretty evenly matched in the stand-up and had some good exhanges. Thurston displayed some very good defensive wrestling stopping numerous takedown attempts from Sung.
Once the fight hit the mat Sung really shined going for submission after submission after gaining mount on Thurston. Sweat would play a major factor in the fight as Sung would have a hard time locking anything in due to both fighters being extremely slippery.
At the end of the fight Sung would win over all three judges scoring the unanimous decision victory.
When the bell rang to begin the fight between John Cole and Pete Rogers everyone would see that this fight wasn't going to last all three rounds. Both fighters came out flying, getting into some big exhanges that seen some heavy punches land. Cole would score with leg kicks and slowed Rogers down and followed those up with a takedown in the first. On the mat Cole would run submissions attempts on Rogers that included a kneebar and a triangle choke but he would be unable to lock either in to get the tap out.
In the second round Cole would get rocked early from a Rogers overhand right but it would not be enough to keep Cole in trouble as he got top position back quickly and would soon mount Rogers and rain down elbows to get the win midway through the second round.
In a fight that lasted less an than a minute Shawn Marchand would get slammed to the mat early, only to sweep Tom Skidmore and slap on a rear naked choke causing Skidmore to tap out – giving Marchand a quick win at roughly 50 seconds into the first.
In a fight that was somewhat boring due to the same thing happening over and over, a tired looking Stephan Lamarche would pull the win out over a debuting Jeff Evely late into the third round via rear naked choke.
For most of the fight Lamarche would shoot in for the takedown only to be stopped by Evely's sprawl. When they would get back to their feet Evely would stand back while Lamarche would throw weak jabs and a few leg kicks.
Tony Legnaro and Ryan McKenna would would also go the distance. The fighters really went back and forth for the majority of the fight with Legnaro pulling out the decision in the end. The judges cards read 29-28.29-29, and 28-28 in favour of Legnaro.
It was an entertaining fight that seen McKenna for the most part control Legnaro on the mat but would be punished while standing, especially with some huge body shots from the hands of Legnaro. Legnaro threw the same hook-uppercut combo that would land almost every time.
At one point McKenna had a nasty looking kimura locked in but Legnaro showed much determination in not tapping and would eventually break free and go on to win the fight.
Jon Christink and Chris Currie showed how the big boys like to do it. They both came out of the gate swinging and landing big punches and some very nice kicks. Christink would win the fight after landing a huge punch to Currie's chin knocking him face first into the mat. Currie would recover quickly but would not get much more offense in as Christink pounced and pounded out the victory.
In what would have to be considered one of the bloodiest fights in the history of MMA – Vartan Pour Nick showed off his muay thai skill-set in a fight with an extremely overmatched Neil Walsh. Pour Nick would land a stiff knee to Walsh's face, breaking his nose and causing blood to spill.
Walsh showed off just how big his heart was continuing to come at Nick even with his face badly busted up. Walsh would get side mount on Nick late in the first round after Nick slipped. Any offense Walsh could have provided would be short lived as the referee pulled them back to their feet and Nick would continue to punish Walsh with knees and punches.
At the end of the first, the crowd popped and showed their appreciation as both fighters walked back to their respective corners. Into the second round was more of the same as the blood continued to flow. The referee would continue to ask Walsh if he was ready to stop but the relentless fighter would keep telling him he was okay.
The fight would be called midway through the second with Nick's hand raised in victory.
The third fight of the night seen Matt Hamilton get a quick victory over Jeff Bougois. The round started with Hamilton slamming Bougois to the canvas and after rolling a bit, locking in a triangle choke and heading home with the victory.
Ian Dawe and Chris Myra would be a fast paced fight that seen Dawe slam Myra to the mat and begin pounding on Myra only to see Myra get the sweep and get top postition. Both fighters would scramble to their fight and Dawe would lock Myra in the clinch, throwing vicious knees that would cause a cut leading to the end of the fight and a victory for Dawe.
The evening started off with an explosion as Todd Wood and Brad Duguay would come out swinging. Wood would scoop up Duguay and slam him to the mat showing off superior ground skills and locking in an armbar nearing the end of the round, leading to Duguay tapping.
Overall the show was very entertaining from start to finish. Pete Rodley, Kupsch's partner in crime added the following at the end of the night, “The show went off without a hitch” Rodley stated. “I'm extremely pleased with the athletes and I'm glad they gave 200 percent”.
On the topic of the city of Halifax and the crowd Rodley offered this: “The Halifax fans are awesome and I look forward to bringing another show soon, I came to Halifax not knowing a soul and now have many friends there”. He finished up, “Next time will be even better!!”
Stay tuned for Chris Howie's “big ass photo report” from the KOTC show.