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)
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)
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)
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)
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!