Nanaimo gets huge MMA card
One of the B.C.'s biggest main events ever in mixed martial arts will be held in Nanaimo.
Two former UFC fighters, Denis Kang and Jesse "J.T. Money" Taylor will clash March 26 at Frank Crane Arena at Battlefield Fight League: Invasion.
"It's the biggest fight in B.C. history, besides the UFC," said Jay Golshani, president of Battlefield.
Kang (33-12-2) and Taylor (17-6) both have plenty of name recognition among MMA fans. Kang grew up on the Lower Mainland and boasted a 23-match undefeated streak at one point before going 1-2 in the UFC. Taylor, from California, made it to the finals of the Ultimate Fighter reality show before being sent home for bad behaviour. It creates a perfect hero-versus-villain scenario for the fight in Nanaimo.
"Everybody wants Denis Kang to win this fight, obviously, because he's local," said Golshani. "But the fact is it's pretty much a 50-50 fight … Jesse Taylor is an outstanding wrestler and Denis Kang is good all around. He's well-versed. He's got good hands, good jiu-jitsu, good ground game."
The main event is one of 19 fights on the card at this point, as the semi-main event features Vancouver's Bastien Huveneers (9-3-1) against Campbell River's Mike Hackert (4-1).
Another anticipated fight involves two highly ranked challengers, Nanaimo's Graham Spencer (6-1) versus Vancouver's Dave Scholten (7-4).
Nanaimo Impact MMA trainer John Punt said Spencer is looking forward to the matchup.
"He's almost in fight shape today, that's how hard he's been training," said Punt. "Graham trains so hard he just gets better all the time, mentally and physically."
Other Impact fighters on the card include Darcy James (4-3), Ryan Ballingall (3-4), Rachael Swatez (3-2), Mike Ironside (0-1) and amateur Dwayne Ganderton.
Battlefield Fight League has put on a handful of amateur shows in Vancouver, but can't hold professional cards in that city. So Nanaimo just makes sense, said the promoter, who has already booked a second show at Frank Crane Arena in May.
"It's a good fight town and there's a lot of local talent," Golshani said.
Punt has attended BFL's amateur shows before and said the upcoming events will be unlike anything Nanaimo has ever seen.
"It's a really top-notch show," said Punt. "The biggest thing is just going to be the production value in terms of the sound, the large video screens, the cage, the presentation."
The entire card will be aired on the Fight Network and the top five or six fights will also be shown on Chek TV, on Fox Sports and Sun Sports in the U.S., and on Fight Network affiliates in Europe.
"The atmosphere in the building is going to be like a Vancouver Canucks playoff game," Golshani said. "It's going to be loud, it's going to be crazy."
The first two rows of seats sold out the day they went on sale, but tickets are still available at costs ranging from $20 to $100. For tickets, please click here or stop by Fuel Supplements, Pure Self-Defence Studios or Jen's Hair and Nails.