Story and review written by Joe Burd
The Score Fighting Series MMA was back at RBC Centre over the weekend – for the second time in less than a year. The fight night exceeded expectations, delivering six hours of the some of the best world-class adrenaline-fueled mixed martial arts available with three hours of it being broadcast live across two television networks – theScore in Canada and axs.tv in the U.S. – into an estimated 42 million homes.
Indeed, once again Sarnia has successfully proven itself to be nothing less than a world-class city with the capacity of hosting anything that comes its way – and the RBC Centre has continued its winning streak with yet another successful event under its roof.
The atmosphere was definitely pumped up Friday night even before the events officially got underway while folks were still streaming into the venue and inside waiting in seemingly endless lineups for autographs, branded merchandise and drinks.
The Score’s media machine was there in force, ensuring everyone got everything they needed. The autograph table featured UFC stars Mark Hominick, Sam Stout and Chris Clements – all of whom started their respective careers close to home between London and Chatham.
In addition to the free autographs, fans willing to wait in the lineup were also given free branded t-shirts and baseball caps which could also be signed by the sports stars.
The action got underway shortly after 7 p.m. with preliminary bouts featuring a mix of fighters making their debut, proving that they had what it takes, and those who have already had a few matches wanting to push themselves to new limits.
Two of those fighters who made their debut over the weekend were Tyler Kirk (0-0) and Malcolm Gordon (1-0) who squared off against each other in the fourth match of the evening. For newcomers to the professional leagues, both of these guys tested their limits in a bout that lasted less than one full round. After a few minutes of punching and kicking back and forth, both men remaining on their feet all the while, the match came to a quick climax and finish when Gordon applied the pressure and took Kirk down for the first win of his professional career.
Easily the highlights of the under-card matches were that between Jason Meisel (4-1) and Eric Attard (4-3) as well as the highly-anticipated clash between Joel Paquette (1-1) and Allan Wilson (2-1).
In their matchup, Jason Meisel defeated Eric Attard after three high-octane, often brutal rounds via a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, and 29-28) by the panel of judges seated at ringside. The bout featured a good mix of on-the-ground grappling, vicious kicks and bruising fisticuffs before Meisel pulled out the win by having the upper hand in all three rounds.
Joel Paquette, who talked with LambtonShield.com last week prior to his match, proved that he had what it takes to be in the octagon by scoring a first round victory against his slightly more experienced opponent Allan Wilson. This matchup saw Paquette decisively bounce back from his loss last December in his debut against Jason Meisel at RBC Centre and showed that all his training over the past 11 months has paid off in spades.
The top card of matches started promptly at 10 p.m. moments after both the Canadian and American national anthems echoed throughout the venue kicking off the televised portion of the night. By that time, many more people also had filed into the venue that specifically came to see the main events and the energy inside the place had reached a new level of pandemonium.
The first televised match between Jesse Gross (7-3) and Seiji Sugiman-Marangos (5-2) immediately set the tone for the rest of the evening and pushed the adrenaline factor into high gear. Gross dominated the match for two rounds, manhandling his opponent until winning by TKO (punches) at 4:59 of the second round.
In another highly-anticipated bout, Sarnia’s own John “The Haggis Basher” Fraser (11-4) stepped into the octagon with Tyler Toner (13-5) and pulled out a decisive victory late in the third round to the sheer delight of thousands of locals in attendance. After some close moments that saw Fraser at the receiving end of Toner’s effective punches and kicks, The Haggis Basher rose to the moment and won by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, and 30-27).
The main event of the night – a matchup between top ranked Canadian featherweight Chris Horodecki and octagon veteran Brad Cardinal – started at approximately 12:30 a.m. with both fighters looking for the finish. The bout went back and forth in the first round with both Horodecki and Cardinal showing why they’re at the top of their sport.
However, in a twisted turn of events Horodecki was accidentally hit with a head-butt at the hands of his opponent which caused him to start excessively bleeding from the head. Moments before the second round got underway, the officials stopped the match due to Horodecki’s injury and the night came to a close.
Despite the shortened main event – a match that still delivered while it lasted – the crowd seemed to have had a great night at the fights, leaving no question that we have not seen the last of The Score Fighting Series in Sarnia.