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.”

 

 

 

Road To Vegas: Meet The New Team Canada

By Buckley Smith and Angus Argyle

As two gentlemen with little to no knowledge on the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, we came into this event with no expectations or predetermined ideas of what we were walking into.

What we came out with was a stunning view of a world not too many people get a personal insight into. We were privileged to witness a community of brotherhood and constant inspiration. The men and women involved with Canadian amateur MMA are individuals with integrity, heart, determination and more than anything, love for their fellow fighters.

The 2016 Canadian National Amateur MMA Tryouts (or “Road To The Worlds”) was put on by the CCA (Canadian Combat Alliance), Split Draw and IMMAF (International Mixed Martial Arts Federation), and was hosted in Lethbridge, Alberta from May 27th to May 29th.

It was a weekend full of intensity, hard work and the more than occasional drop of blood. It was a weekend full of a cast characters, ranging from a man who spent two years battling a brain tumour that crippled his meteoric rise to the top, to another individual who left Paraguay with his family to start a better life for them all and a better chance for what will almost certainly be a successful career in this sport. Even including a current UFC fighter and former Ultimate Fighter contestant, “Ragin” Kagan Johnson, who took the time to come back to his roots and offer up his knowledge and support to any fighters who wanted it.

And after three days of fights, some short and some that seemed like a marathon of blood and sweat, we are left with one thing: the 2016 Canadian National Amateur MMA team.

So without further ado, allow us to introduce you to your champions.

Kyle Francotti – 265 pound weight class (Champion Gym, Grand Prairie, AB)

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Kyle Francotti, the former British Columbia strong-man champion, turned to MMA when his body was just unable to take the rigours of body building for the strongest man competitions.

“After that competition my body was so beat up, I wanted to try something different, so I started fighting and I loved it and stuck with it ever since,” said Francotti.

After ascending to the top of his weight class in all of Canadian amateur MMA, Francotti was struck with some devastating news on the eve of his title fight. An MRI taken the day before the fight revealed that he had a brain tumour and would be unable to compete.

“When I first got the news I just wanted to fight,” he said. “It was heartbreaking and it took me a few days to grasp the whole concept of what was going on.”

Francotti had just been blessed with a baby boy and now had to face the reality of his own mortality. Having to undergo a 14-hour surgery with only a 75% chance of survival he not only had to put aside his dreams of going pro, but really consider what was most important to him.

“You have to come to terms with a lot of things,” said Francotti. “I thought to myself ‘my son might not have a dad’ and that was hard.”

He stopped going to the gym completely and threw himself into being a father, spending upwards of 8 hours a day with his son. And after the long wait for surgery he says he finally found peace.

“When I did go for surgery I felt very at peace with where I was. I was very happy”

When we asked why he still wants to keep fighting, Francotti was very adamant that you have to love this sport to be in it.

“You got to do it for yourself. It doesn’t matter how many people you have on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook,” said Francotti. “And that’s what people care about too much these days.”

And although no other fighters showed up in his weight class, leaving him with a “free pass” (by no means has he not worked to get where he is), Francotti will now have a chance to go to Las Vegas and show the world why he was once one of the top fighters in his country.

Colton Cronkite – 205 pound weight class (Canadian Martial Arts Centre, Lethbridge, AB)

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Colton Cronkite, grandson of a three time golden glove boxer, followed in his grandfathers shoes after winning his fight at the amateur MMA national championship following a  submission of his opponent with an arm bar Sunday afternoon.

Cronkite, a native of Raymond, Alberta, who was sporting a cowboy hat and a huge smile after his match, is a freestyle fighter who does whatever it takes to eliminate his opponents.

“I just kind of feel out my opponents and go from there,” said Cronkite.

Cronkite has been fighting for two and a half years and he says he plans on fighting for as long as he can.

“We will see where she goes,” says Cronkite. “We will ride her till she doesn’t ride anymore.”

Following his weekend of fights and his eventual gold medal, Cronkite expressed relief.

“Mostly relief. It has been a lot of hard work, with back to back fight camps. So I’m pretty relieved all the hard work paid off.”

When asked about what he has to say for his opponents waiting in Las Vegas, Cronkite remained humble and said two simple words.

“Good luck.”

Filip Laporcak – 185 pound weight class (Straight Blast, St. Catharines, ON)

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Filip Laporcak, a native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, came into this tournament with an undefeated record.

And after his fights this weekend, his undefeated record remains intact. When asked what this means to him, Laporcak had this to say.

“It’s just experience. Just being in there and getting better each time, and learning something new each time. The undefeated record doesn’t mean much to me.”

In his final fight of the weekend, Laporcak went up against Colton Boxall. And going into the third round the fight truly seemed like it would go the distance.

But at 0:59 of the third round, Laporcak caught his opponent in a weak moment and was able to lay down enough of a beating to earn the victory by TKO.

Following the fight Laporcak said he was relieved.

“I’m very happy. A lot of hard work paid off,” he said. “That guy was tough and I’m just happy to be on Team Canada.”

And all I can say to his opponents waiting in Vegas is be ready, because as Laporcak says,”I’m coming for gold. That’s it.”

Alexander Martinez – 170 pound weight class (Champion Gym, Grand Prairie, AB)

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Originally from Paraguay, Martinez is a two time national champion who represented Canada in last years Las Vagas world championships, eventually losing in the final to the American William Starks.

He currently fights out of Grand Prairie, Alberta with Champion Gym coached by his father, Luis Martinez and Bill Mahood.

Martinez and his family moved to Canada seven years ago when his father realized he’d have better opportunities in Canada.

Already an owner and operator of martial arts centre in Paraguay, Luis brought his dreams with him along with his son as his prodigy when he realized Alex shared his love for competitive fighting.

“Fighting for me is like second nature, we all fight in life some way,” Alex said. “I just do what I love.”

So now following his second straight victory at this tournament, after defeating Forrest Cable by a split decision in a fight described by many as “a true war”, Alex now has a chance to go back to Las Vegas to show the world what he can do.

“I just want to be the best I can,” said Alex. “I want to do what’s biggest, like the UFC, I have my goal and that’s what I’m working for.”

John Nguyen – 155 pound weight class (Dynamic MMA, Calgary, AB)

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John Nguyen has been fighting for three years now, and says he started the sport almost out of necessity.

” I always got into street fights when I was younger and I just had to learn how to defend myself,” said Nguyen. “so i joined Vince (his coach) and ever since then it’s funny, I haven’t gotten into one street fight.”

But despite his reasonings for starting, Nguyen now plans to take it to the top.

“I just want to take it as far as I can go.”

And if fighting doesn’t work out, he says he would love to get into coaching MMA.

“I always love to share my knowledge with people,” said Nguyen.

But for now, that isn’t something he has to think about. As he is now number one in his weight class in Canadian amateur MMA and has earned the chance to go to Las Vegas to represent his country and hone his trade.

“I’m tired man, but I’m so excited as well,” said Nguyen. “It feels so good to know that I can compete at this level, and I am just so excited for the Worlds.”

When asked what he needs to do before then, Nguyen simply said staying fresh and injury free will be the key for him.

And if his fights weren’t enough warning to his future opponents, maybe the two words he had for them will be enough.

“Watch out.”

Ben Fehr – 145 pound weight class (Canadian Martial Arts Centre, Lethbridge, AB)

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Ben Fehr, a native of Lethbridge, started fighting in 2011 after watching a “Rumble In The Cage” event.

“I saw that and I just thought to myself ‘I can do that’, so I started training,” said Fehr.

Due to a lack of fighters in his weight class, Fehr was left with one fight all weekend, and was matched up against an opponent who was making his debut in the octagon, Jimmy Sanchez.

His opponents inexperience showed (not to say he was not a talented fighter), as Fehr won the fight by guillotine choke at 1:24 in the first round.

Ever the good sport though, Fehr could be seen sitting beside his opponent during the mandatory medical checks offering advice for the mans future in MMA as well as encouragement for his respectable (albeit brief) showing in his debut match.

Fehr, a man of few words, had little to say after his fight.

“I’m just pumped man. Just ready to go to Vegas. And I hope they’re (his upcoming opponents) are all ready too.”

Sambath Khun – 135 pound weight class (Hayabusa Training Centre, St. Albert, AB)

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By appearances (no offence Sam, if you’re reading this!), Sambath Khun is not the first man you would expect to step into the octagon and emerge the champion.

Slight of figure, even by his own weight classes definition, Khun lasted a gruelling three rounds with his opponent, despite a less than ideal start to the match.

“I got a little careless at the start of the fight, and that’s where I got clipped,” said Khun. “But I felt like the key to that fight was staying relaxed and being patient.”

And his patience was rewarded, as the judges awarded Khun the match by unanimous decision.

“A bit of my face hurts but I’m happy to have a fight like that. Sometimes we have fights where we look really good but we don’t really test ourselves till we are in the heat of battle. I hope I don’t have too many of those, but I’m happy to have it, to experience a war like that and come out victorious.”

And what a war it was, as from the first minute on Khun was seen gushing blood from his face and as the fight dragged on it became hard to tell who’s blood was all over the two fighters.

And while many of the other fighters had very few words for their future opponents, Khun had plenty to say.

“Be ready because I’m (expletive) going to give them everything i have. I’m going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at these sons of (expletive). So be ready.”

Jarret Vornbrock – 125 pound weight class (Warrior Strong MMA, Grand Prairie, AB)

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Jarret Vornbrock, a native of Yellowknife, was another fighter who came into this tournament with an undefeated record (4-0).

And due to the lack of fighters in his weight class, he had a single fight to get through, and his record remains intact following it.

What started out as a flurry of arms and legs, developed into a surprising (for his weight class) battle on the ground.

But after three gruelling rounds, the judges awarded Vornbrock the victory by unanimous decision.

“I feel on top of the world man. That was a tough fight. I honestly didn’t know who had it, it was up in the air till the end,” said Vornbrock. “I was a little bit nervous because you never know when it’s in the judges hands, it can go either way.”

For Vornbrock, who is the owner of a degree in environmental science, representing his country in Las Vegas holds an extra special meaning.

He says he was inspired to start fighting by watching Canadians like George St. Pierre and wanted to be that next guy.

“I saw GSP fight when i was really little and I thought ‘Wow I could be like this guy. This guy has the same kind of attitude as me and he really loves the sport that he’s in.'” said Vornbrock. “When I saw him I thought I could be this next guy for Canada.”

And now that he is a part of Team Canada going to the World Championship, Vornbrock is one step closer to being “that next guy for Canada”.

Brittney Allan – Female class

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Brittney Allan, 27, began participating in martial arts as a means of filling her time when she was not playing hockey.

Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Allan first got into kickboxing as her initiation into martial arts. But soon she began taking an interest in grappling, and from there the only place to go was mixed martial arts.

Due to a lack of female competitors at the national tryouts, Allan only had a single fight to get through to get to the World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.

And through one round of that fight, things were not looking so good for Brittney.

“I really didn’t do very well in the first round,” said Allan. “But I came out stronger in the second round.”

Allan said she was able to find some weaknesses in her opponents style, and exploited them for the win and a chance to represent her country at Worlds.

Here is to hoping we see more of that second round Brittney in Las Vegas, and her ability to adapt to opponents styles and exploit their weaknesses definitely will not hurt her chances!

So folks, there you have it, your Canadian National Amateur team for 2016! Congratulations to all the fighters and best of luck in Las Vegas! Canada knows you will do us proud!

 

With Remembrance Day Approaching, Time To Reflect On Nations Progress

Remembrance Day is almost upon us, and with it comes the time to reflect.

Remembrance Day began at the end of the First World War, as a means of remembering all those who gave their lives to defend our great nation. It is often said that the hostilities of that war ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, which is where we get November 11th from.

I spoke with some Loyalist College students on this topic, and the theme of reflection seemed to be quite prevalent in all their answers. For Nicholas Smart, 21 of Cloyne Ont., it is about more than just the past.

And while looking at our progress is a rather fresh approach to a day that is all about the past, we can not forget that the past is whats most important here. We must never forget all the heroic men and women who gave their lives, or whos lives will never be the same after experiencing the horrors that often come with war. And this can hit especially close to home for those with family members who were either in the military or are in the military now.

This rang true for both of my interview subjects, but especially so for Matthew Cassidy, 22 of Quinte West. Not only does he have siblings who are in the process of joining the military, but he also had a grandfather who served in World War 2. Cassidy said that this “really gave the whole day a lot more relevance.”

Along with remembering wars of the past, I’m sure we all have at least one memory of a remembrance day parade or assembly that we attended as a child, and it is something that you often remember in vivid detail. It is something that even as a child, with a lower capacity for truly understanding what is going on, that we will always remember, not just visually but also emotionally. For Cassidy, who took part in an essay/poem contest for Remembrance Day as a child, it is a memory that will stay with him for life.

And as we become adults we must continue the tradition of being involved in this day. We must continue to contribute to the community on a day of need such as this. We must remember.

Helping The Community: A Profile Of The YMCA

Written by: Buckley Smith & Devin Roherty

Interviews conducted by: Buckley Smith & Devin Roherty

Video editing by: Tyler Penney

When looking through organizations in Belleville that have had a beneficial impact on the community, many stand out. Among these sparkling organizations one stands out as a shining beacon. That would be the YMCA, or as it is more affectionately known as the “Y”. This is an organization full of people who care only about the individuals who use their facilities. With no worry for personal gain, they simply care about the betterment of their “clients” if you could call them that.

History of the YMCA in Canada

The YMCA has had a long and storied history here in our fair country of Canada. In fact the first YMCA was established in Montreal over 150 years ago. Since the first YMCA was established in 1851, it has grown massively to include roughly 1000 locations all throughout this country.

What was first designed to be something to teach religious beliefs to children in an attempt to better their lives, it has evolved into a less religion-oriented organization, and has become a much more lifestyle-oriented program. What it has morphed into is somewhere that truly focuses on teaching healthy living through exercise and social interaction.

History of the YMCA in Belleville

While the Belleville location has moved buildings many times, it was first established in 1915. It currently resides at the address of 433 Victoria Avenue in Belleville Ontario. Its facilities boast a full gym to work out in, a basketball court and full pool facilities. All these facilities are provided at a very reasonable rate, along with options for payment plans for those that do not have the means to pay for their normal rates.On top of this it also provides day care at a very discounted rate, which helps parents who can not afford normal day care.

The location in Belleville is run mainly by a man by the name of David Allen. While overseeing a vast majority of the operations of the Belleville location, he also oversees a few other YMCAs in the surrounding area.

Goals of the YMCA in Belleville

While the YMCA caters to all ages of individuals, it truly focuses its time on improving the lives of young people in the community. It aims to do this through 3 main imperatives. Those 3 would be the following: healthy lifestyle teaching, social skills building and a sense of community and inclusion.

Healthy Lifestyle

When one thinks of healthy lifestyle the first thing that pops to mind is exercise and physical activity. And this is something that is not only preached at the “Y” but also taught. Along with their outstanding workout facilities, basketball facilities and pool facilities, they also provide personal trainers to those who wish to have one. Once again, as everything else they provide, this comes at a very reasonable rate.

These trainers not only provide them with encouragement and motivation, but also give them a regular workout schedule to keep them on track in their goals. On top of these workout regimens, these trainers try help the people out by creating them a regimen in which to base their diets off of, furthering their healthy lifestyle.

On top of just the workout facilities, the fact that they also have basketball facilities and a place to swim, really make sure anybody can keep up with their exercise. Some people may be embarrassed about lifting weights in front of other individuals who may be more adept at it, so with the swimming and basketball it really provides alternative methods to stay fit.

By having young people and older individuals exercising in the same facilities, it truly shows the younger ones the benefit of instilling this healthy lifestyle. If they can see how it benefits people who have been doing it their whole lives, they may be more inclined to continue it in their own lives.

Social Skills

While the “Y” is mainly a fitness oriented facility, it also believes that it truly teaches young people the social skills to be decent, hard working and involved members of their communities. Many young people only ever experience being social with the group of friends they have been with for most of their lives. Sometimes those groups of friends are not the best influence on their lives. So having the chance to be around people who like them are aiming to improve their lives, can give them a whole new perspective on who they feel they should be spending time with. Having people with a positive outlook on life can really have a huge impact.

Along with that, keeping kids off the streets is a major factor of the “Y”. Many young people are left with much too much time on their hands. And through a combination of bad people in their lives and this excess time, many bad decisions can be made. While all of us have made at least one or two bad decisions in their lives, in many a case these decisions can lead to more bad decisions, creating a slippery slope. So in an attempt to prevent lives being ruined, the YMCA hopes to install a community that kids can be involved in, hoping that they will continue to improve their lives in this community.

Sense of Community and Belonging

As was previously mentioned some kids may be in less fortunate social situations, but along with this many kids may have no social situation at all. They may come from bad families, leaving them with an empty hole in their lives. By providing accessible facilities these kids will always feel included at the YMCA. Like previously stated the “Y” allows for people without the financial means to figure out a way to acquire a membership. By allowing anybody who has the will to come a way to come, nobody will ever feel discluded.

The kids who have never felt a part of anything, now can feel a part of something truly inspiring.

Payment Plans

It has been mentioned many times already, but a very important aspect of the YMCA is the ability to be flexible with payment for membership. Either through reduced rates, or deferred payments, nobody will ever be turned down for financial reasons. The lady in charge of these payment plans is Jennifer Johnstone.

Funding

The YMCA is under the umbrella of the United Way, but it also is mainly funded through local charities and organizations in the community who believe in what the “Y” is doing. One of those organizations is Tim Hortons, who run many fundraisers to bring money into the YMCA.

Along with the outside financing they do receive many donations from members and civilians alike. They also run many events that while are provided for free, do accept donations. One such event is the Santa Claus pancake breakfast they are funning this Saturday, the 13th, from 8:00 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. At this event they will they be providing free breakfast, being served by important influential people in the community. Along with this the children will have a chance to hang out with Santa, taking pictures and talking to him, which can be a very happy time in many children’s lives.

Impact

Although many of the varying degrees of impact the YMCA has, what is better then hearing it from someone who has used the facilities for quite a while and has seen the positive impact it has had on his life?

So here you go, a final video to provide a true view of what the “Y” can do.

Ladies and gentlemen Christian Krauser.

Takeaway: September 23rd, 2014

The Definition Of News

Our teacher Robert Washburn asked us for our definition of news to start the class. The following was my definition: News is information regarding the happenings, either in the world, or in your local area. It could be breaking news (very current) or updates on ongoing important events.

Following this he gave us a lecture regarding what news is. Here are what I saw to be the main points of that lecture.

-Most importantly of everything we learned today, news is not arbitrary. Just because some people feel that it isn’t vital or important, doesn’t mean there aren’t people in the world who would enjoy to consume this information. At the same time as a journalist you are a gatekeeper. Due to this you must truly train your instincts regarding news judgment.

-There exists a paradigm that all news stories should base themselves off of. This paradigm is: Inform, Explain, Interpret. And while this paradigm isn’t wrong by any means, it can lead to a journalist believing he is above the people he is informing; believing he has become part of the elite. Therefore a need for a new paradigm arose. And not so surprisingly this new paradigm originated from the very school I attend now. This new, “better” paradigm is as follows: Educate, Engage, Empower. In my view, the reason that this paradigm is superior to the original is that it encourages the reader to take part, or take action, in the subject they have just read about. For example if the piece had something to do with an upcoming election, it would engage the reader to make their own mind up on the issue, and then take action with what they have decided.

-In mostly all news agencies, be that newspapers or television broadcasters, you will find hard news and soft news. Hard news is what many people would call breaking news. While on the other hand, soft news is what you would describe as interest pieces. Such things as profiles on people in the community, or clubs that are operating in your area. While hard news could debatably be defined as more important, it is all news, and should be treated as such.

-All news must meet certain criteria. While it may not meet all these criteria, there must be enough to satisfy the reader. First up we have timeliness. This concerns how current the news is, because the more current it is, the more interest it will pique. While this one may seem obvious it is still noteworthy, and that is importance. There must be significance to the news you are providing. Ask yourself, “What does this mean to me?” If it means nothing to you, why do you think many other people will find meaning in it? On a similar vein, we find our next criteria, prominence. While this changes based on the audience, you must really gauge the prominence of the subject you are covering. For example a piece on Barack Obama would probably be seen as prominent by a vast majority of the world. And while some pieces may find interest globally, some stories may not be so universal. Which brings us to our next criteria, proximity. The relevance of a story will change, depending on how close geographically the story is to the audience you are presenting it to. The population of Belleville are not going to want to read about a rodeo in Kansas, and vice versa. And last, but definitely not least, comes oddity. If you want people to read what you have to say, to care about what you’ve written, you must write something that hasn’t been already written. You must find something strays from the norm. No one wants to hear about what they know to be a fact of everyday life. They want to hear about that fact changing, and why it changed.

-Objectivity is something we hold very highly in journalism, but this has not always been the case. When newspapers first originated they were very different from what we see today. They were partisan organizations; supporting only what they believed in, and ignoring the rest. Examples of this would be pro-slavery newspapers, or

pro-conservative newspapers. This all changed in the late 19th century when advertisement became a factor. Once these agencies were having their bills paid by these businesses, they realized they couldn’t offend them. In other words, they couldn’t bite the hand that fed them. Thus, objectivity in news arose. And while certain factors, like the Washington Witch-hunts, almost took objectivity back out of journalism, it still strives. What these factors did do was give us a blend of personal opinion and simply providing information. And this is where I see news today. At a happy medium; right where it should be.

So what do I think is news now? While I wouldn’t stray far from my original answer, this lecture definitely gave me a broader view of news. If there is even one person in the world that would want to know the information you possess, it could be seen as news. Anything that happens is news.

Life is news.