On April 2, 2011, at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario, Knockout Entertainment Canada hosted the province’s first officially sanctioned mixed martial arts event titled "MMA: The Reckoning." The venue sold out its 5,000-seat arena for the card, a seven-fight event featuring a combination of faded veterans, international fighters and promising young Canadians, put together by British promoter Robert Waterman. Overall, the event went smoothly as planned, as the promotion put forth a decent effort with a mixed bag of good and bad fights. Below are nine thoughts about the event.
Fight of the Night: Jorge Britto vs. Jason Young
If the promotion awarded a "Fight of the Night award," it would certainly go to Toronto BJJ’s Jorge Britto and Britain’s Jason Young for their three-round brawl. In a back-and-forth slugfest that engulfed the audience’s attention, both contestants knocked their opponents down: Britto connecting with an unexpected spinning back fist in the first, and then Young landing with a big head kick in the second.
In both cases, the crowd erupted at the sight of the fallen fighter, hoping to see the first-ever knockout in Ontario. With both fighters showing great composure after getting rocked, the province will instead have to wait until the next MMA event to see one.
Most Impressive Performance: Chris Horodecki
In the co-main event, London, Ontario’s Chris Horodecki returned to the cage for the first time since losing his spot in the WEC after a submission loss to Donald Cerrone at WEC 53. The Team Tompkins fighter quickly dispatched American David Castillo in the first round with an armbar, upping his professional record to 17-3.
At only 23 years old and training with the likes of Sam Stout and Mark Hominick at the Adrenaline Training Centre, the UFC should really think about signing the "Polish Hammer” after this impressive performance, even though they already have a stacked lightweight division.
Best Finish: Joel Powell
Fellow Canadians fought each other in the opening bout, as Joel Powell submitted Brandt Dewsberry with a rear-naked choke in the second round to win the first-ever officially sanctioned mixed martial arts bout ever held in Ontario. Powell dominated the opening round with his wrestling before finishing off Dewsberry in the middle frame with a vicious rear-naked choke.
Powell should definitely be fielding some offers on the Canadian circuit after this victory, as he showed good wrestling and submission skills throughout.
Most Surprising Fight: Rob Hill vs. Spencer Rohovie
In a fight not listed on the rumored event card, Australia’s Rob Hill beat Lethbridge, Alberta’s Spencer Rohovie with a picture-perfect, third-round arm-triangle choke in a vicious back-and-forth brawl. Both guys exchanged takedowns, took some big shots and showed good chins in the fight, but Hill eventually was able to secure the submission.
Rohovie is sure to fight in more Canadian shows, but Hill seems like a guy with a potentially very bright future if he continues to execute impressive finishes like this. He even showed terrific humour and thanked the crowd for their involvement in his post-fight interview, becoming an instant fan favourite in the process.
Best Submission Defence: Tyler Solomon
Canadians Jason Saggo and Tyler Solomon gave the fans a good fight in a second-round armbar win for Saggo. The first round saw both fighters ground positions as Saggo tried to apply the rear-naked choke, and the crowd responded with cheers and claps of excitement as Solomon defended. Though Saggo mostly controlled the fight and was the one attempting the most submissions, Solomon showed terrific poise and submission defence, earning both fighters the respect and admiration of the crowd. Both of these young guys have a bright future ahead of them.
Best Ref: Dan Miragliotta
John McCarthy, Yves Lavigne and Dan Miragliotta were all appointed by Ontario’s Athletic Commission for the event. Miragliotta showed no hesitation in breaking up clinches and stalemates, so he gets the award.
Most Disappointing Fight: Jordan Mein vs. Josh Burkman
The main event featured UFC veteran Josh Burkman taking on young Canadian Jordan Mein. It was a mostly boring decision victory for Mein, with the crowd booing loudly at times in an attempt to encourage the fighters to throw strikes, and taunting Burkman for his unwillingness to engage.
Mein landed some good strikes and overall showed some promise, but it was far from the type of the performance expected of a young fighter with all sorts of hype behind him. With the loss, Burkman once again proved he cannot fight anymore at a high level.
Most Disappointing Performance: Dean Amasinger
UFC vet and The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 alum Dean Amasinger took on Halifax’s Matt MacGrath in a three-round, mostly wrestling-filled affair. MacGrath took Amasinger down at will, furthering the notion that Team Rough House fighters—and British mixed martial artists in general—can’t wrestle. If standout strikers like Paul Daley, Dan Hardy and Ross Pearson cannot learn how to defend the takedown, they will never be champions. With the uninspiring loss, Amasinger proved to nobody he belongs back in the big leagues of the UFC in what was the most disappointing performance of the night.
Worst Fight: Misha Cirkunov vs. Ion Cherdivara
In the most boring fight of all, Toronto-based Misha Cirkunov and Moldova-born and Montreal-based Ion Cherdivara hardly engaged and were heavily booed by the crowd as Cirkunov took home the decision victory. Cirkunov threw some nice strikes and had Cherdivara stunned at times but couldn’t follow them up in combinations, which demonstrates he has much work to do on his boxing. Cherdivara showed a good chin but not much else. This fight sucked.