UFC featherweight Mark Hominick (left) was a rising star in Montreal’s TKO promotion | Freddie DeFreitas/Sherdog.com
Once considered to be one of the world’s biggest MMA hotbeds, Montreal has seen its share of major regional organizations depart in recent years.
Gone are the days of the spectacle -- choreographed entrances backlit by excessive pyrotechnic displays and entourages repelling into the cage from the Bell Centre rafters. Throughout much of the 2000s, UCC (later known as TKO Major League MMA) was the crown jewel of Montreal’s burgeoning MMA scene. The promotion served as the launching pad for fighters such as Georges St. Pierre, Mark Hominick, Sam Stout, David Loiseau, Ivan Menjivar, Sean Pierson and countless other Canadian talents.
However, in the last two years, Montreal’s MMA scene has decayed. TKO, Xtreme MMA and others have faded away. While Montreal’s boxing scene remains red-hot, Canada’s MMA city now seems to be Edmonton by acclamation.
Since its inception in May 2009, Ringside MMA, led by Eric Champoux, has tried to fill that void.
Ringside has held nine shows in Montreal and the surrounding areas, an unfathomable five more events than the next active promotion in the region during the same period. The magazine-backed promotion looks for continued success as its 2011 “Rising Star” series kicks off on Saturday at Montreal’s Club Soda.
The focus of the “Rising Star” series of events will be centered squarely on the promotion of up-and-coming MMA prospects and cultivating a new crop of talent from within the region. Saturday’s card features an excellent mix of fighters representing Quebec gyms that have produced recognized names in the sport, including Zahabi MMA, Team Legion and Team Bergeron.
At its most basic, the card, like Ringside’s goal at large, is reminiscent of the early part of the last decade in Montreal’s MMA scene, when hungry up-and-comers fought to emerge as the best in the city, the province, and the country, and eventually went on to big-show prosperity. It’s the kind of step necessary if Montreal is to become Canada’s true MMA city again.