MM-Eh! News and Notes from Canada

By Andy Cotterill Jan 12, 2007
Hi everyone, welcome back to the first MM-Eh! of 2007. Carrying on from last year, the status of mixed martial arts in Canada remains as healthy as ever. Canadian fighters continue to make waves in the major organizations, and MMA fans have many great local promotions to quench their MMA thirst.

As always, we’ve got a bunch to cover, and I encourage everyone to send e-mails my way with your questions, queries, comments and concerns.

The resurgence of Jason MacDonald (Pictures)

I first met Jason MacDonald (Pictures) about a year ago when he headlined the first ECC in Halifax and defeated recent The Ultimate Fighter 4 participant Gideon Ray (Pictures). I had done my research beforehand, so I knew that he had some quality wins under his belt, but he also had some questionable losses.

One thing about records is that they only tell part of the story. They can tell you about what’s already happened, but they can’t tell you what’s in a fighter’s heart, nor can they predict the future.

If you watch any of the three video interviews I did with him for Sherdog, it should be as evident to you as it was to me that Jason was extremely confident in his abilities. This guy had more faith in himself than just about anyone I’d ever met.

He made the bold claim that he felt he was good enough to be in the UFC, and that’s where he belonged. In what was to be major foreshadowing, Jason also said that when he watched the current crop of TUF middleweights on SpikeTV, he knew in his heart that he would beat any of them.

As confident as he then was, I wonder if he really had any idea how far he would come in less than a year’s time. Since then he has had two UFC appearances, both of which were victories over TUF alums, and both came via submissions that were good enough to garner him the UFC awarded “Submission of the night.” In fact, the UFC has proclaimed that his vicious choke-out of Chris Leben (Pictures) was their fourth best submission of 2006.

Jason now has what will undoubtedly be the toughest fight of his career ahead of him, when at UFC 68 he’ll face former UFC champ Rich Franklin (Pictures), who’s making his first appearance since a devastating loss to Anderson Silva last October.

This will be Jason’s eighth fight in 12 months, and regardless of the outcome, his manager Mark Pavelich told me that Jason will take some well-deserved time off.

As with his previous UFC fights, Jason will be going in as the clear-cut underdog — to everyone except for him and his team that is. To borrow a phrase used by Jason in the past, we know he “has the tools” to win the fight, and on March 3 in Columbus, Ohio, we’ll find out if his tools and his faith in himself will be enough.

Suspension forces Ricco off Rumble In the Cage

Although the HCF-promoted RITC 21 on New Year’s Eve was by all accounts a great success, it was missing its biggest draw: Former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez (Pictures), who fell off the card when the California State Athletic Commission put Rodriguez under indefinite suspension following his win against Imani Lee last November.

“This is very disappointing, as I assisted Lee (Mein) in setting up this main event,” stated HCF CEO Keith Crawford. “It's too bad as Rodriguez would have been a great test for J-Rod.”

“I will not comment on the suspension,” Crawford continued, “but will say that the fighters in our sport are now roll models and mentors for our fans, sponsors and up and coming athletes. They are accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”

The J-Rod he referred to is Jared Kilkenny, a behemoth of a man who has been pummelling his way through opponents left and right since he started fighting professionally last summer. As tough as the Canadian is, I think Rodriguez would have probably been too much for him to handle, but I guarantee you that Kilkenny would have given it his all.

One thing you should know about Lee Mein (Pictures) and his crew at the Canadian Martial Arts Centre is that they are true warriors in every sense of the word. Lee’s attitude is “Fighters fight,” and he and his guys are always ready to go. Hopefully we’ll continue to see them have a busy 2007.

In lieu of Rodriguez, apparently Kilkenny dropped to 205 pounds in order to face Marcus Hicks at light heavyweight. I was amazed when I first heard this, as when I met him he was 240 and solid. How in the heck did he lose 35 pounds?

Apex “Caged Inferno” postponed

Just four days before their planned Jan. 13 card in Gatineau, APEX issued the following press release:

APEX Championship Fighting regrets to inform fans and fighters that the event scheduled for January 13th, 2007 has been postponed due to circumstances beyond our control.

Full refunds will be available form the source where tickets were purchased. Unfortunately, the details cannot be discussed due to potential legal implications, but look forward to an announcement about a rescheduled date in the near future.

APEX would like to thank the fans for their overwhelming support and apologizes for any inconvenience.

APEX sometimes seems to take a backseat to the better-known TKO organization, but it is definitely a high-quality, well-run event. I know that the fans will be disappointed due to this setback, and don’t forget about the athletes who have trained and dieted for months in preparation. Hopefully APEX will be able to resolve their issues and come back strong.

MMA fans in the Gatineau area won’t have long to wait, however, as only a week later than the now cancelled APEX event, King of the Cage will be holding its first ever event in the eastern part of the country. More on that next week.

Mauro Ranallo update

Love him or hate him, one of the most recognizable voices in MMA is that of Canadian Mauro Ranallo. Love may actually be a little strong, but I was definitely excited when I heard that Hardcore Championship Fighting has made him the voice of their organization.

I’ve you’ve never heard him do commentary on an MMA bout, make sure you tune into the Score television channel on Wednesday nights. Mauro’s knowledge and genuine love of the sport are a treat to hear.

Sam Stout (Pictures) raises money for charity

In another sign that MMA is becoming more widely accepted by the mainstream, the London Sports Celebrity Dinner on Jan. 15 will feature many notables, including “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe. Also present will be TKO lightweight champion Sam Stout (Pictures) from Team Tompkins.

It’s great to see the guys get involved in the community for such a good cause, and also that the community is now looking upon an MMA fighter as a respected athlete. Great job Sam.

That’s it for now folks. See you next week!
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