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)
Las 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)
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)
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)
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.