In a first of its kind, the Battle for the Border electrified Western Financial Place on Saturday night as MMA fighters challenged each other inside the Octagon in front of 2,000 roaring fans.
The event, two years in the making, was the brainchild of Isaac Hockley and Jody McInnes, which turned from idea into reality through months of hard work after working with the city of Cranbrook to iron out all the legal and logistical details.
But it was all worth it, according to Hockley, who hopes that the first MMA event will be one of many in the future.
“I’ve had really good call-backs on the fighters in town,” said Hockley. “Everyone said they were really respectful and very professional. We’re just really excited with the way things went.”
The headlining event of Derek Boyle and Aaron Armstrong was arguably the most exciting fight, but others kept the crowd engaged. Curtis Blackmore had the whole arena cheering for him during his bout with Lee Morrison, the lone international opponent from the United States.
The event pitted B.C. fighters against their Albertan rivals, which included locals Curtis Blackmore, John MacKinnon, Chris Darula, David Crawford, Brandon MacArthur, Nik Ramsay, Mike Seguin and Sheldon Doll.
Some fights were settled quickly, others went into two rounds, while Boyle and Armstrong went all three, which was settled by a Unanimous Decisions.
Seguin was the lone victor representing the region, as the Kimberley-based fighter submitted Josh Strate with a Rear-Naked Choke in his first-ever amateur fight.
Denis Senecal MC’d during the night, working up the crowd with his enthusiastic introductions of the fighters as they made their entrances to flashing light displays and loud music.
Overseeing most of the action inside the octagon was Big John McCarthy, a referee who was the first head referee for Ultimate Fighting Championship and a former police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Scott MacLeod, the chair of the city’s athletic commission, said everything came together very well because of the hard work Hockley, McInnes and Cranbrook city staff.
Without the athletic commission, there could be no MMA event, but that changed last January when the city created the regulatory body.
“The city gave us the bylaw, which gave us the broad strokes,” said MacLeod. “Then we had to take that and figure out how we were going to administer the bylaw, get all the paperwork and forms in order.
“We had to work closely with the promoters to figure out how we were going to put the show on and figure out what our responsibilities were and find those responsibilities, split them up and do it.”
Hockley said the event was profitable for him and McInnes, who have partnered to form H&M Productions with the goal of bringing in different kinds of entertainment ranging from music acts to theatrical productions.
However, Hockley is hoping to get another MMA event into Western Financial Place by as early as next spring.