Despite disappointing results, World Championships great experience for Team Canada

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Las Vegas-Some of the members of Team Canada after the tournament. Pictured: (from left to right) Top row-Kyle Francotti, Vince Gentile, Bill Mahood, Kajan Johnson, Lee Mein, Shane Weaver and Luis Martinez. Bottom row-Sambath Khun, Jarrett Vornbrock, John Nguyen and Alex Martinez. Photo by Buckley Smith.

Las Vegas-The recent 2016 IMMAF Amateur MMA World Championships in Las Vegas wrapped up this past Sunday, July the 10th. And for Team Canada, the tournament ended much the same way it went for them all week; in heartbreak.

With only one fight on the final day, as Alex Martinez had advanced to the gold medal match in his weight class, all eyes were on Martinez.

In a rematch of last years gold medal bout against William Starks of the USA, Martinez put up a great fight but ultimately fell short for a second straight year.

After a first round in which he dominated by keeping his opponent at a distance and working his superior striking game, the tables turned in the second round as Starks took things to the ground.

This seemed to expose a weakness in Martinez’s game, as Starks really took the match over, giving Martinez no chance to play to his strengths.

The match ended up going the full three rounds, and the judges decision was ultimately given unanimously to Starks, giving him his 2nd straight gold medal at the World Championships.

There was definitely no shame in losing for Martinez, as he had lost to the best of the best in his weight class, and in fact, Starks actually signed on to a pro contract just days after his fight with Titan FC (for an article on that click here).

But despite the lack of good results, the tournament was a great experience for all involved, and to a man each fighter expressed that they had learnt a great deal from fighting in it.

“It was great, I learnt a lot from fighting in this tournament,” said Team Canada fighter, Brittney Allan. “It just gave me a little more insight into the details, and gave me a perspective of what i need to work on before i fight again.”

And while many of the fighters discovered things in their physical game that needed improvement, more widespread was the awareness of a need to improve their mental game, something one of their coaches, Kajan Johnson, preached highly.

“To perform under this vast amount of pressure, I would say just really try to let all that extra stuff go,” said Johnson, who also fights in the UFC and was a former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Canada versus Australia. “Let go of any of the hopes you have of what you may achieve, any of the people surrounding you that are gunning for you in this tournament. None of that really exists once you get in there. If they can achieve that, then they are just doing martial arts.”

Kyle Francotti, a heavyweight fighter for Team Canada, explained why he thought this tournament plays in well when fighters are trying to learn how to block out those distractions.

“Normally at a fight there is so much production value and time spent into hyping up the fan, that a fighter can actually get themselves pretty worked up,” said Francotti. “At the IMMAF tournament there are so many fights going on, and it is so busy, that you only have to focus on yourself and your warm up.”

Not getting as far as she would like, and hoping to come back next year and do better, this point was not lost on Allan.

“I’ve learnt I kind of have to block people out,” said Allan.” I don’t know if I was as focused as I should have been right off the bat.”

And Allan was not the only one to voice these concerns, as John Nguyen of Team Canada felt much the same way.

“Its a learning experience. I mostly need to improve on the mental game,” said Nguyen. “I have just got to tune something in my head.”

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Las Vegas-Alex Martinez (far left) stands on the podium beside his fellow medal winners. Photo by Buckley Smith.

For fighters on Team Canada returning to this tournament for a second time, like Alex Martinez and Sambath Khun, they said they could already feel a difference in their mental game from one year to the next.

“I used to be very emotional and very passionate and I used to have this fear that tells me that I suck. It always used to give me a big pump before my fight and I used to fight very rough,” said Martinez. “Now I’m so calm and I don’t get that pump. But do I need that pump to win? Do I need that fear to win? Now I’m just becoming very experienced and I’m starting to feel comfortable, almost like I’m just training.”

While it might seem obvious that doing something a second time would help you improve, Kajan Johnson could not stress enough the importance of being able to participate for a second time.

“Anytime you experience something once, it’s usually much easier the second time, unless the first time was a very traumatic experience. But both of them (Alex Martinez and Sambath Khun) had very positive experiences in this tournament,” said Johnson. “They have been here, they have had the hype leading up to this, they have seen the crowd, they have been at fight week, they have experienced Las Vegas. That plays wonders, and it just helps you let go of all that stuff much easier.”

Along with improving their own talents through the experience of the tournament, the fighters that were coming back for a 2nd time were more than happy to pass that knowledge along to their fellow brawlers, which Francotti found quite useful.

“I had a pretty good understanding of how big it was going to be from Alex Martinez, Luis (the father and coach of Alex Martinez) and Bill Mahood (the president of the Canadian Combat Alliance as well as a coach for the team) sharing their experience from last year,” said Francotti. “But I was still incredibly impressed when I saw it for myself.”

For some fighters participating in this tournament against the best the world has to offer can be a bit of a reality check. Francotti says it can be a true measure of what the competition out there is like.

“The IMMAF World Championships is the closest that an amateur MMA fighter is going to get to the Olympics,” said Francotti. “And the winners truly are the best in the world.”

Truly understanding the skill that the world has to offer and experiencing the level of competition on the world stage can sometimes change a fighters mind on his decision of when to go pro, as it did with Jarrett Vornbrock.

“Coming into this tournament I was thinking that I would come here and rock it and then look to go pro right afterwards,” said Vornbrock. “But this has kind of changed that for me. Now I feel I should work on coming back next year better than this year, and we will see about going pro after that.”

Despite all the lessons that could be learnt from this event, it is also important to note that you can learn something even more vital: trusting in the skills you already have.

“This tournament has taught me that I am capable of competing on a world class level,” said Vornbrock. “And that I should be confident in my skills.”

Not satisfied with their single medal, a silver for Martinez, Team Canada is aiming to come back next year for some more medals, hopefully including some golds.

So with better representation hopefully (more on that later), as well as the fighters they do already have going through the experience this tournament has to offer, Canada can look forward to a team next year that will be stronger, better and more ready to kick some ass then ever before.

 

 

 

All 3 fights go the distance for Team Canada on the 3rd day

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Las Vegas–Team Canadas “posse” on the sidelines supporting their teammate. Photo by Buckley Smith

Going into Day 3 at the IMMAF MMA World Championships, Team Canadas hopes were left on three fighters: Brittney Allan, Alex Martinez and Jarrett Vornbrock.

With high expectations for all three of them, we can expect at least one of these folks to make it on to next day.

Day 3 Recap

Womens Flyweight: Brittney Allan (CAN) vs Gabriella Ringblom (SWE)

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Las Vegas–Team Canadas Brittney Allan approaches the ring with hands held high for her fight against Swedens Gabriella Ringblom. Photo by Buckley Smith

Team Sweden has already put on an eye opening performance at this years tournament.

And that continued in the first match of the day for Team Canada.

Brittney Allan was well prepared for this fight and it showed in her bout. Going the distance against one of last years medallists is something to be proud of.

The 1st round was all striking, as the two fighters exchanged punches and kicks, with no clear winner.

While Allan took a few harder punches than her opponent, the round could have easily been called a draw.

In the 2nd round though, the style changed up, with a lot of the fight going to the ground and Ringblom holding a clear advantage.

But after surviving being pinned on the ground for minutes at a time, the 3rd round went back to Allans style: striking.

And this time it seemed like she may have held the advantage for the better part of the 3rd round.

But as both fighters tired, they stopped blocking shots, and it became painful to watch as they both simply allowed themselves to be punched repeatedly in the face.

And while Allan seemed like she had a couple chances to end it, the intensity of the first two rounds had tired both fighters out, and the fight ended up going the distance.

And while the judges eventually sided with Ringblom, Allan put up a hell of a fight and should hold her head high knowing that next year she should be back here, and ready to kick some more ass.

For highlights of Brittneys fight click here.

Mens Welterweight – Alexander Martinez (CAN) vs Benjamin Bennett (USA)

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Las Vegas–A clearly elated Alex Martinez celebrates following the judges decision. Photo by Buckley Smith.

Coming into this tournament, everyone involved with Team Canada knew that Alex Martinez had what it took to take things all the way.

After coming up one fight short in last years tournament, getting a silver medal for his efforts, Martinez is showing that he is ready to go one step further.

After his win on day 1 over CHECK, Martinez showed his championship-calibre skills again in his day 3 win over Benjamin Bennett of the United States of America.

Showing his mental strength, faith in himself (and God, judging by his pre-fight prayers on the steps) and generally well-rounded game, Martinez toyed with Bennett over the course of all 3 rounds; never looking threatened.

While that’s is not to say that he dominated the judges cards by any mean, as Bennett more than held his own.

But the look on Bennetts face after every strike by Martinez said alot.

Bennett could be seen shaking his head after every punch and kick, as if to say “Shit, I got my moneys worth here.”

And boy did he ever.

While Bennett definitely came back in the third round to give Martinez something to worry about (which gave me serious nerves watching the fight).

When all was said and done, it was Martinez bouncing around the ring screaming at the top of his lungs, after the judges handed him the fight.

Ever the gentlemen though, Martinez went to talk to his opponent after the decision, and the two of them exchanged tips and compliments. (Bennett could be seen saying that Martinez had “perfect kicks” that “scared the shit out of him”)

And now Martinez is one step closer to his goal, and what his whole team knows he can achieve: a World Championship.

For a video of the fight click here.

Mens Flyweight – Jarrett Vornbrock (CAN) vs Josh Neale (GBR)

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Las Vegas–Jarrett Vornbrock celebrates after a fight he, and most in attendance, thought he had won. Photo by Buckley Smith.

In all honesty, ladies and gentlemen, Team Canada should have two fighters going on to the next round, and possibly competing for the title.

Jarrett Vornbrock gave his absolute all in his fight, looking dominating at times, and at worst looking on par with his opponent at other times.

But at no point did Vornbrock look like he was overmatched, or look like he could lose this fight.

And yet, somehow, the judges did not see it that way.

Absolutely baffling that somehow it was given unanimously to Vornbrocks opponent, Josh Neale.

From the moment the fight started Vornbrock was more mobile, landed more strikes and overall did more damage.

Neale was bleeding from the first round, and Vornbrock did not let up at any point.

Despite a serious reach disadvantage, Vornbrock consistently was the one to land the better blows.

And while he may have suffered slightly from the ground game, it wasn’t enough for him to lose the fight in my eyes.

Standing in the ring after the fight, no one on Team Canada seemed to have a doubt at all that the fight was a win for Vornbrock.

And yet, somehow here we are talking about it being a loss.

But Vornbrock, ever the attentive learner, is all but guaranteed good things in the future of his career.

Here is to you Jarrett! An amazingly talented fighter and an absolute class act!

For highlights of the fight click here.

 

So there you have it folks, Team Canada is down to one fighter. At least there is still the chance for one gold medal, and it couldn’t be in better hands than Alex Martinez’s.

 

 

Day 2 filled with controversial calls and heartbreaking losses

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Las Vegas-Team Canada fighter Colton Cronkite prepares for his fight with Luis Martinez. Photo by Buckley Smith

Las Vegas–So after a day in which Team Canada went 2 for 4 in their fights, Canada was slated to have 5 fights on Day 2.

But due to a medical issue, Alex Martinez will not have an opponent for Day 2 and will receive a buy to the next round.

One would think this would make Martinez happy, but ever the level-headed young man, he says it doesn’t bother him either way.

“I am prepared for everything, good or bad, anything can happen at a tournament like this,” said Martinez. “This isn’t a time to celebrate. I just need to prepare myself for tomorrow.”

So without Martinez fighting Team Canada is left with four for the day: Colton Cronkite, Ben Fehr, Kyle Francotti and Sambath Kuhn.

Day 2 Recap

After a successful first day for Team Canada, day 2 was very much on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.

Before I go any further I do want to make it clear I am in no way speaking ill of the IMMAF officials.

They do a world class job, as they are selected as the best in the world at what they do.

But on Day 2 there were definitely a couple calls that one could see how it could have gone the other way. Not questionable entirely, but one could see how members of Team Canada would be upset.

While the first fight was a no-doubter, with Colton Cronkite tapping out, the next three included a disqualification for an illegal move (not everyone saw it that way though), a unanimous decision that could be questioned and a TKO call with 1 second left in the round.

So without further ado, allow me to walk you through a tragic day for Team Canada.

Mens Light Heavyweight – Colton Cronkite (CAN) vs Tencho Karaenav (BGR)

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Las Vegas-Colton Cronkite sits dejected after his heartbreaking loss by rear naked choke. Photo by Buckley Smith

Colton Cronkite came into this tournament with high hopes and was well prepared for whatever came his way.

And in the beginning of the 1st round of his 1st fight, it really showed.

Coming out in full force, Cronkite took the fight to the ground and controlled it well.

Using his size to his advantage, Cronkite held a fairly significant edge on the ground over last years silver medallist Tencho Karaenav.

But as these things go, one let up, and everything swayed in his opponents favour.

Cronkite left his head and neck exposed and paid the price, as his opponent managed to get his arm around his neck and put the squeeze on.

And with precious seconds remaining in the round, Cronkite simply could not hold on any longer, and tapped out on a rear naked choke.

A heartbreaking loss, and a disappointing start to the day for Team Canada.

More to come after interview with Cronkite.

For highlights of the fight click here.

Mens Heavyweight – Kyle Francotti (CAN) vs Maciej Gasiorek (POL)

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Las Vegas–Kyle Francotti pounds on his opponent in a match he dominated but ultimately lost in heartbreaking fashion. Photo by Buckley Smith.

This fight had to be the most heartbreaking of the bunch for multiple reasons.

For starters, before the match was called for an illegal move, Francotti was absolutely dominating, imposing his will on his opponent from the first second of the match.

And secondly, and possibly the more tragic situation, was how far Francotti had come to get to this point.

After fighting his way to the top of the rankings in Canada, Francotti was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

After undergoing a surgery which he was told he may not ever wake up from, he trained his way back to fighting fitness.

And to see all those trials and tribulations go for naught, it makes me sick to my stomach to even write about it.

But back to the fight.

After destroying his opponent for the first minute and a half, the officials called the fight after they saw Francotti execute what they deemed an illegal “can opener” move on his opponent.

Standing in the ring while waiting to hear the outcome of the events, while also watching his opponent writhe in pain (he may or may not have been putting on a performance worthy of an Oscar Award), Francotti looked like he realized everything he had worked for could be coming to an end.

I pray, as all of Canada should be, that this is not the end for Francotti.

Knowing the spirit that man has, and the support he has behind him, that he will take this disaster and turn it into a simple hurdle that he jumped over on his way back to the top.

For video of the fight click here.

Mens Bantamweight – Sambath Kuhn (CAN) vs David Evans (USA)

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Las Vegas–Sambath Kuhn readies himself for his first fight of the tournament. Photo by Buckley Smith.

While this bout did not start in the dominating fashion as the first two, it did seem to sway slightly back in favour of the Canadian fighter, before the judges decision brought all that crashing back to the ground.

By no means am I saying that David Evans didn’t deserve to win the fight, but a split decision would have been more justifiable than the unanimous decision it ended with.

The first round was definitely all Evans, as Kuhn simply seemed timid.

“I was just tentative in that first round,” said Kuhn. “I should have gone after him.”

But as the match progressed it looked like Kuhn might have a chance to steal this one.

The second round was about a 50-50, but the 3rd round presented an opportunity for Kuhn.

His opponent began to tire, but he just couldn’t take advantage of it.

“I could tell he was starting to fade, and I should have tried to end it there,” said Kuhn.

A missed opportunity would be the best way to describe it, and it really seemed like Kuhn knew that.

But ever the sportsman, Kuhn could be seen carrying the victor around following the judges decision in celebration for his opponents effort.

Mens Featherweight – Ben Fehr (CAN) vs Nathan Kelly (IRL)

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Las Vegas–Featherweight Ben Fehr prepares himself his fight. Photo by Buckley Smith.

As if writing about three heartbreakers isn’t tough enough on me, but here comes the fourth.

Against the Irish Kelly, Fehr seemed to have multiple opportunities to finish his fight, including a few close call submissions.

But after the initial few near wins, the fight started to sway against the Canadian.

He just couldn’t seem to hold his own in the striking game, and his ground game started to fade as the match went on.

And Kelly took his chance, getting on top of Fehr on multiple occasions and feeding him fist after fist (Kelly could be heard vocalising with each strike).

And with 1 second left in the 2nd round, the official decided Fehr was not fighting back anymore and called the match by TKO.

And while that may have been the right call, as head injury is a major concern, many were upset that they did not just allow the round to end and allow Fehr to come out for another chance to win it.

But these are the way things go, and Team Canada and its fans will have to live with it.

For a video of the end end of the fight click here.

But tomorrow brings a new day, and a new chance for the Canadian fighters to prove they are the best in the world.

Team Canada still has three fantastic fighters in Brittney Allan, Alex Martinez and Jarrett Vornbrock remaining in the tournament, and tomorrow they will have another shot to take it to the world.

So keep your hopes up Canada, and keeping cheering your team on!

 

 

After promising start, day ends in disappointment for Team Canada

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Las Vegas–Canadas flag flies high and proud over top the ring as the IMMAF MMA World Championships is set to begin. Photo by Buckley Smith.

The time has finally come.

The time for the athletes of Team Canada to prove that they are not just the best in their country, but also the best in the world.

With the IMMAF MMA World Championships kicking off in Las Vegas, Nevada yesterday (and running through till Sunday, July the 10th) the eyes of the world will be on these gentlemen and ladies.

After years of training, victories and failures, these folks will have the chance to go up against the best the world has to offer, ranging across 53 different countries.

With Team Canadas 9-fighter roster ranging from the 125 pound weight class all the way up to the 265 pound weight class, our great countries athletes will have plenty of opportunities to come out on top, and be crowned the greatest in the world.

The registration is done, the weigh-ins completed, and now the real battle begins.

Day 1 of fights

Mens Flyweight – Jarrett Vornbrock (CAN) vs Serdar Atlas (SWE)

 

IMG_5136Las Vegas–Jarrett Vornbrock of Team Canada celebrates his victory over Serdar Atlas. Photo by Buckley Smith.

Going into his fight today Jarrett Vornbrock, of Yellowknife, sounded quite confident he would find a way to defeat his opponent.

“He is not very strong on the ground, not too bad with striking, but definitely weak on the ground,” said Vornbrock.

And after a flurry of punches to start the match, Vornbrock managed to achieve his goal and bring Atlas to the ground.

Round 1 looked like a toss up, with each fighter getting their fair share of punches in and controlling their opponent on the ground for significant periods of time.

But that all changed in the 2nd round, as it seemed Vornbrock had the better stamina and Atlas began to tire out.

“I could have gone another 2 rounds,” said Vornbrock. “But I could tell he was getting tired.”

And while he was tired, Atlas still managed to hold on and get out of the 2nd round unscathed.

But Vornbrock knew he had his opponent on the ropes, and he went for the kill shot.

“I heard him grunt and I knew he was broken,” said Vornbrock. “So I just went after him.”

And from the third round on, Vornbrock dominated, still maintaining the energy he had out of the gate (if not picking up even more steam).

After slamming his opponent to the ground he got on top and unleashed punch after punch to the face of Atlas, until the refs had seen enough and declared a victory by TKO at 2:24 of the 3rd round.

For a video of the knockout click here.

Mens Welterweight – Alex Martinex (CAN) vs Kevin Hangs (GER)

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Las Vegas–Alex Martinez exits the ring following his win over by guillotine. Photo by Buckley Smith

Alex Martinez, a native of Paraguay, comes from a family of fighters and was Team Canadas representative at this same tournament last year, eventually losing in the finals to the American Will Starks.

As such, Martinez, who can be seen praying on the steps prior to his bouts, definitely knows what to expect going into a fight.

Butterflies and doubts will always come with the territory, but he says that seems to be changing.

“It actually kind of scares me how calm I am getting before a fight,” said Martinez. “There used to be a little voice inside me saying ‘you suck’ but not anymore.”

As is quite normal in a tournament of this scale, Martinez had very little knowledge on his opponent.

The 1st round was a vicious back and forth between him and Hangs, with no clear leader.

But after one round in the ring with Kevin Hangs, of Germany, he managed to pick up a couple things about his opponent.

“I noticed he was a little slow on his feet, so I decided to try and use that,” said Martinez.

And it worked out in his favour as he won the match by guillotine choke in the 2nd round, keeping alive his dream of going for the gold that eluded him last year.

Mens Lightweight – John Nguyen (CAN) vs Tobias Harilla (SWE)

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Las Vegas-John Nguyen enters the ring for his fight. Photo by Buckley Smith.

John Nguyen started training as a fighter out of necessity, as he was always getting into fights and wanted to learn to defend himself better.

Now fighting on the world stage Nguyen says he is ready for whatever opponent comes his way.

“I don’t worry about the other guy,” said Nguyen. “I just concentrate on my game and it works itself out from there.”

And in a tournament, where it is very difficult to gather information on your opponent, this attribute can work to your advantage.

But unfortunately for Nguyen, faced up against Tobias Harilla of Team Sweden, it didn’t work out for him this time.

In a match full of striking, which usually plays up for Nguyen, he just took a few too many strikes and ended up losing by TKO in the 2nd round.

Nguyen felt that it was not a physical issue, but a mental one.

“I am not one to make excuses, but I didn’t feel like myself,” said Nguyen. “I wasn’t scared, I just felt off.”

And while he says he has fought fighters of that style before, he doesn’t feel that he needs to improve anything specifically with his fighting game.

“I just need to work on the mental side,” he said. “Now I have been here (to World Championships), and I know what I need to do to prepare mentally for next year.”

And I can assure you, we will see Nguyen back next year, and he will be closer to the beast his teammates and coaches have come to know and love.

Mens Middleweight – Filip Laporcak (CAN) vs Stockmann Toni (AUT)

 

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Las Vegas-Filip Laporcak walks to the ring for his fight surrounded by his coaching staff. Photo by Buckley Smith.

Filip Laporcak, of Niagara Falls, had it tough right off the bat.

Drawing a match up against Stockmann Toni was deemed to be bad luck to begin with, as Toni already had quite a bit of a reputation going for him.

People around the ring could be heard describing him as a “complete monster”.

So he really did not need anything else going against him.

So when Toni started the match with a superman punch to Laporcaks head (as Laporcak was attempting to do the glove tap, cheap shot alert!), things were not looking good for the promising Canadian fighter.

Walking casually around the ring, Toni never looked as if he ever really felt threatened, and chose to simply toy with Laporcak with the odd kick to the knee here and there.

Those knee shots would prove to be Laporcaks undoing as the last one brought him to the ground, and after Toni seized the opportunity to get on top of him and pound him with punch after punch, the match was called by TKO in the 1st round.

Laporcaks coach, Rich Beaupit, didn’t see things that way.

“9 times out 10 Filip beats that guy,” said Beaupit.

In his mind it had a lot more to do with preparation.

“You know you prepare hard, you fight well,” said Beaupit. “You don’t prepare well and it shows in your fight.”

But fear not Canada, Laporcak is a talented fighter who caught a bad break.

And you can rest assured he will come back next year stronger and better than ever.

Laporcek could not be reached for comment.

 

 

Rash guards cause of controversy on day 1 in Las Vegas

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Team Canada member Colton Cronkite tries out what is supposed to be an “XL” rash guard shirt. Photo by Buckley Smith.

Las Vegas–While the IMMAF MMA World Championships have officially begun, no fights have occurred yet, and somehow there is already trouble brewing.

Roughly two weeks before the tournament the participating teams were informed that they would all have to wear rash guards (essentially an extremely tight shirt) despite most of them never having fought in such attire.

The governing body in charge listed a range of reasons, stretching from diversification of pro and amateur to gender equality, but it seems quite obvious to everyone involved why it was truly done: money.

A member of the company in charge of supplying the equipment, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said, “It is basically there so the people involved can profit more.”

And this reason seems quite apparent to CCA (Canadian Combat Alliance) President Bill Mahood.

“It’s stupid. It is a way of exploiting the sponsors,” said Mahood.”It is just a way of making more money.”

And while the release given to the teams seems to state rational reasons, such as imitating how boxing diversifies between amateur athletes and professional athletes through the equipment they must wear, as well as attempting to maintain gender equality as female fighters are already mandated to wear rash guards, the reasons involved don’t seem to matter to the fighters.

What really matters to them is how it could impact their fights.

As many of them have never fought wearing them, how it could change the style of the fight seemed to be a very prevalent fear.

“It’s weird, I have never had to wear one before,” said Team Canada fighter John Nguyen.”Grapplers are going to like it because it will keep the sweat off (increasing the traction they can get on their opponents), and it could give them something to grab onto.”

And while it seems this change could give an advantage to certain styled fighters, it could go even further by giving certain countries an advantage over others.

Kajan Johnson, a UFC fighter and former Ultimate Fighter champion, thought this could give an unfair advantage to the North American teams (an odd thing to admit seeing as he is at the tournament as a coach for Team Canada, so clearly it is quite an issue if he is willing to admit to that).

“It may give North America an advantage because generally we are better grapplers than most of the European countries (with the exception of the more Eastern countries where wrestling is a big-time sport),” said Johnson. “But we’ll see.”

There is nothing the fighters can do about it, despite their very open objections. As they say: “Them’s the rules.”

So with the rash guards in place, the possible unfair advantages and shady reasoning are irrelevant, and as Johnson said: “We will see.”