By Hannah Lawrie, With Photos From Chad Hipolito and Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
November 3, 2012, Victoria, BC – ISN’s Hannah Lawrie provides an engaging and dramatic look at Saturday night’s Aggression Fighting Championship that was held at Bear Mountain Arena in Victoria.
Today I watched my first Aggression Fighting Championship live.
I have seen UFC fighters on television. I understand the process of the sport. The idea of preparing your body hundreds of ways, day after day so that the feeling of a right jab is ingrained in your tricep deeper than the tissue and into the soul of your arm.
Myles Anstead of Victoria, in red trunks, takes on Bill “The Monk” Fraser of Comox – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
But until today, I hadn’t seen these muscles fly, unleashed and able to exercise their memory. Today 20 men reminded me that fighting has been a part of human history longer than the written word can record. The Aggression Fighting Championship isn’t base human physical expression, but a celebration of our modern ability to master a sport we have been practicing since humans began to stand upright.
Andy Jack loses to “Sexi” Alexi Argyriou due to guillotine choke during AFC 13 (Aggression Fighting Championship) Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood, BC. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News
The beauty in Mixed Martial Arts lies in its openness to every race and culture. Whether knowingly or not an athlete like Kendall Grove, native to Hawaii, brings other cultures close to his entire audience the day he learns Brazilian Jujitsu. Not every sport will address its participants simply as ‘men’, with no differentiation based on race or culture.
Myles Anstead would pummel Fraser with a relentless ground attack – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The personality of each fighter is easier to see when you watch MMA live. Athletes like Steven Best, also known as “Pinky” developed an immediate connection with the audience. Even on his debut night Pinky collected a following. Best lost to Guy Gauthier, but he stands out in my mind because of the personality he brought to the ring. I will remember him.
Guy Gauthier and Steven Best exchange blows. Gauthier, of Campbell River, would win his undercard bout– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Other top entertainers for the evening include, “Sexy” Alexi Argyriou, Louis “Little Bread” Fisette (the champ who straddled the top of the fence shouting in victory) and Ryan Janes. Janes surprised me the most. His opponent Keto Allen, “The Jamaican Assassin” appears similar to his stage name, his muscles so defined I think I could rest a ping pong ball on each curve of his abdomen.
Ryan Janes, of Victoria’s Zuma club, would withstand this Keto Allen strike to dominate his division fight– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
But Janes won this fight. His long legs and arms took on power like crashing waves, etching away at the rock wall in front of him. Ryan Janes didn’t win this fight just because he was taller or had trained more. Janes won because he fully let his inner instinct take on another man’s. If he hadn’t shouted in celebration at the end of the fight, I would have been disappointed.
Ryan Janes celebrates his win by unanimous decision over Keto “The Jamaican Assasin” Allen during AFC 13 (Aggression Fighting Championship) Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood, BC. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News
Aggression Fighting Championship has scary moments. When asked how they feel about their son participating in a violent sport Mr. and Mrs. Connelly said, ” We are worried, but supportive.” Their nervousness during each fight has not decreased over the 6 fights their son Triston “Boondock” Connelly has fought. Mrs. Connelly stands close to the cage with her hands gripping each other and shoulders raised. “But this is his passion,” Mr. Connelly says, “So we support him.”
Triston “Boondock” Connelly, attempts an armbar on Myles”Cowboy Merola at AFC 13 (Aggression Fighting Championship) Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood, BC. Myles Merola wins by split decision. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News
Tristan Connelly is a Victoria, BC favorite. This Irishman has charm. I fell into adoration of him when I heard his entrance song as the Theme from the Boondock Saint’s movie. I wasn’t the only one. Connelly returned to visit the audience after the fight. Boondock and his black eye were greeted with nothing but pride. Connelly says, “There’s more pressure [fighting in his hometown], its always easier out of town.”
Myles Merola gets the upper hand on Triston Connelly– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Many fans this evening awaited the arrival of John “The Natural” Alessio. Alessio returned after 14 years of success in the AFC and UFC. And tonight Alessio had to apologize to his fans. Within a minute of the start of his fight against Dave Mazany, John Alessio was struck in the eye by a punch made worse by his opponent’s finger, which stuck into his eye. Alessio could barely open his right eye. This ended the match.
Alessio slips the punch of his opponent Dave “The Pain Train” Mazany in the main card attaction – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The sound of Alessio’s voice through the stadium left me heartbroken. I could tell that he too had been waiting for today among so many others. John “The Natural” reminded me of a fairytale hero returning to the place where he first saved the day.
Former UFC fighter John “The Natural” Alessio is emotional following a no contest following an inadvertent eye poke by Dave “The Pain Train” Mazany duringt AFC 13 (Aggression Fighting Championship) Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood, BC. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News
Despite the short end to the Alessio/ Mazany fight there was enough excitement to keep fans teetering on the edge of their stiff plastic seats in the two fights prior. Louis Fisette exited Diego Wilson from the ring with a half moon cut under his eye and a sense of frustration.
Louis “Little Bread” Fisette, top, is pulled off of Diego “Sapaden” Wilson and wins by TKO during AFC 13 (Aggression Fighting Championship) Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood, BC. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News
Kendall “Da Spyda” Grove versus Ariel “the Panther” Gandulla revealed the strategy of the sport at high level fighting. The Spider took on the Panther furiously at the beginning of the fight. Grove’s attack was wise. He stretched forward like he had reached across the ring with the knowledge of every possible return move Gandulla could make. Grove played chess and Gandulla played checkers.
Former UFC(Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter Kendall “Da Spyda” Grove lands a kick on Ariel “The Panther” Gandulla winning by TKO during the AFC 13 (Aggression Fighting Championship) Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood, BC. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News
Gandulla seemed calm in the face of Grove’s punches. He waited possibly with hope that Grove would tire and then the Panther could make his move. Too bad Da Spyda didn’t tire. Kendall Grove is fighting 3 times in three weeks. He certainly has the stamina. “I just try not to get injured.” Says Grove, “But that guy jacked my shin up!”
Kendall “Da Spyda” Grove connects on Ariel ” The Panther” Gandulla – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The last time I have been so convinced into becoming a fan by a live performance was a Rolling Stones concert at the age of 14. My transition into a fan in one evening is extreme, but based on the performance I saw, not unrealistic.