The first bout of the evening involved Team Ring Shark prospect Cory Chambers (0-2-1) against Evan Isbester (0-0-1), who is a student of Legends BJJ, an affiliate of Regina’s Complete Martial Arts and Fitness.
In a match that would turn out to be a back and forth battle, the first bout of the evening set the tone for the rest of the night. The bout was indeed so close that one judged scored it a draw.
In the first round, both men attempted to gauge the distance and feel each other out while circling around the outside of the ring. Eventually, Chambers began to achieve limited success landing kicks to the body and legs.
Early in the opening round, Chambers attempted to take Isbester to the mat but was stuffed, and eventually relinquished his effort as Isbester capitalized on the situation and aggressively took side-control.
After both men spent some time struggling for positioning on the ground, Isbester eventually made his way to the full mount as the crowd cheered in approval for the Prince Albert product. While Isbester did attempt to do damage from the mount, most of his time was spent maintaining the position as Chambers was anxiously trying to escape and lock up Isbester’s body to prevent him from posturing up and throwing shots.
Chambers’ effort was not in vain, as he was able to wiggle his way into half-guard without taking tremendous damage from Isbester. From there, both men struggled to improve their respective positions on the ground.
The fight began to pick up midway through the first round when Isbester attempted to regain the mount, but was reversed by Chambers, who now found himself in the dominant mount position ready to do damage, which he did. Chambers began to blast Isbester with punch after punch on the bottom. The ring trembled as shots would land and the cheers from the crowd began to intensify.
Realizing the danger of the situation, Isbester eventually managed to force Chambers off him and move to side control. From side control, the struggle continued and Isbester eventually managed almost to lock up a triangle from the bottom. The two athletes struggled in the position for some time, with Isbester attempting to tighten the choke, and Chambers desperately trying to escape.
The cheers from the crowd turned into all out mayhem as Isbester attempted a Kimura on top of the triangle choke that he had already applied. At this point, fans were standing and cheering in applause as the fight appeared to be near its end. Isbester noted that attempting submissions was more difficult than he expected.
“In the gym it is easier because guys are not as sweaty,” he said. “I thought that I had it, but I was not prepared for the greasiness, it was really, really slippery.”
However, Chambers managed to escape what looked to be a fight ending submission, and, after a scramble, Chambers found himself in the top position, and proceeded to throw heavy shots downwards at Isbester as the crowd roared in approval.
Although Isbester appeared to be in a fair amount of trouble, he managed to mitigate the problem by attempting another Kimura from the bottom, which prevented Chambers from continuing his assault.
Right before the end of the round, Isbester managed to use his submission attempt to reverse Chambers and regain the top position as the bell sounded. The crowd was left buzzing as the two fighters walked to their respective corners.
The second stanza, despite being another back and forth round, was a little more decisive than the first.
After the opening bell, both fighters were cautious and took their time to look for openings to engage. Chambers was the more active of the two on the feet, attempting several kicks to the body and head. Eventually, Chambers managed to catch one of Isbester’s body kicks and take him to the mat.
From there, Chambers primarily focused on maintaining the position and avoiding the continuous submission attempts from Isbester on the bottom. Chambers did manage to land some power shots on Isbester in an attempt to flog the submission barrage, but he eventually lost the position, as Isbester was able to sweep him from the bottom and gain full mount.
Isbester’s time in the dominant position was limited, however. Chambers managed to pull off a reversal from the bottom and initiate a scramble that ended with Chambers lifting Isbester up and slamming him to the mat before things settled down in full guard.
From there it was more of the same, Chambers would attempt to land power punches while Isbester looked for submissions and came very close to sinking in a Gogoplata.
After the action on the ground stalled, the referee instructed both fighters to stand up. While on the feet, both men swung wildly and threw a couple of head kicks to mix things up. Neither fighter landed any significant shots, but Chambers was eventually able to catch one of Isbester’s kicks and take the fight to the ground once again.
While on the ground, Isbester attempted more submissions while Chambers struggled to avoid the oncoming assault.
When the final bell rang, it appeared that the fight was going to be a tie. It looked as if Isbester had won the first round, and Chambers had won the second round in a closely contested match.
However, upon receiving the scorecards, several of the judges at ringside had an unusually long discussion regarding the results. Afterwards it was announced that Isbester had actually won a split-decision and picked up the first win of his career.
Isbester was humble and fatigued in the dressing room post-fight as he reflected on his first ever amateur bout.
“I’m never eating soup before a fight again,” he laughed, as he referred to losing his lunch in the locker room after the bout.
It was really slippery out there when we started rolling. It is a lot harder than you think. The only way you can train for this is by actually going in the ring and finding out for yourself. It took a lot of hard work and dedication. I have a good group of guys to train with at Legends.
As Isbester revealed in his post-fight interview, his game plan was more aggressive in nature.
“We wanted to do everything intelligently,” he said. “But I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t back to far away from him, because we felt that he could charge at me if I did that. Takedowns weren’t the focus of the game plan, but I was told to use them if I needed to.”
When asked about his plans in the sport, Isbester’s answer was concise: “More fights, more training.”
*Due to an error is reading the judge's scorecards, this fight has been declared a draw.