There haven’t been any champions or belt holders in TKO since its return in 2016 – following an eight year hiatus . Instead, the organization has taken its time building its roster and has been concentrating on a points system that has resulted in a table structure and a top contenders listing. With four great events since its resurrection, the TKO organization felt ready to hand out some hardware and once again return to the greatest venue in the city – the Bell Center. On December 8th, five glistering belts were awarded to five new MMA Champions – and the entire night was a fight fan’s dream.
Opening the night with a pair of fights that went the distance, earning judge’s decision victories for hometown fighters Corinne Laframboise and James Mancini. Labrador’s Collin Baikie put on a tremendous display of boxing, earning a TKO win over David Daigneault. Ottawa’s Matar Lo defeated Laval’s Charles Hupperetz who tapped out following a vicious knee and a barrage of fists. A pair of Ontariens squared off in the next bout, which ended in brutal fashion as Belleville’s Jordan Graham proved too much for Windsor’s Tony Laramie, resulting in Laramie tapping out in the second round. Laramie suffered a fractured hip and back in the first round yet showed the heart of a lion in trying to continue fighting. Graham was fantastic in earning the win.
The first of five Championship bouts kicked off the main card as Calgary’s Jesse Arnett (13-4) took on Granby’s Dimitri Waardenburg (13-8) for Bantamweight gold. Arnett landed a pair of well-timed blows to the head of Waardenburg, dropping him with a solid left hand, before earning a submission victory, via D’arce choke, †at 1:44 of the first round.
The heavyweights were next, with Montrealís Bakary Sakho (1-0) taking on Granby’s Adam Dyczka (6-0). Despite taking place in Montreal, the crowd was deafening at the appearance of Dyczka and remained that way for the short duration of the fight. Sakho constantly attempted visually impressive maneuvers, but left himself open each time, and Dyczka made him pay for his flamboyance, becoming heavyweight champion following a TKO victory.
The lightweight championship was a rematch of the headline fight of TKO 38, where former UFC fighter Jesse Ronson (18-8) defeated local favorite Derek Gauthier (8-7). Gauthier promised a different result and claimed to have learned from the defeat. Ronson, however, is perhaps the pound for pound best fighter on the TKO roster, and he dismantled Gauthier quickly and decisively on his way to a first round stoppage. The first forty five seconds of the fight were a feeling out session, but as soon as Ronson landed the first big shot, an overhand right, Gauthier knew he was in trouble and the barrage that followed was brutal and relentless. Just over a minute into the first round, Ronson became Champion. Post fight, Ronson sent a message to the UFC, as TKO cards are aired on the UFC Fight Pass service.”Get me a contract before I kill one of these guys” snarled Ronson into the television camera.
Dyczka entered the cage to the cheer of the crowd, Strahinja Gavrilovic (7-4) to jeering and booing. His last bout in the promotion, ended in a disqualification in a fight he more than likely would have won if not for some questionable antics to end the contest. His opponent, Quebec City’s Marc-Andre Barriault (8-1), a boxer with six knockouts victories, proven tough competition for the rather skilled Gavrilovic. It was a back forth affair for five grueling five minute rounds and in the end, it would come down to the judgeís decision. Barriault was able to land punches all fight long, but Gavrilovic was dominant with his wrestling and takedowns, and constantly threw thunderous knees into the thighs of Barriault. Gavrilovic caught Barriault in a beautiful suplex to start off the final round and looked like he may have a submission over Barriault, but the feisty Quebecor resisted and eventually found his way back to his feet. With just over a minute to go in the fight, Barriault landed a defiant spinning back fist and with both men looking exhausted and bloodied, ended the scrap in an exchange of fists. A fighter never wants to leave the outcome of a fight in the hands of the three ringside judges, and on this night, those judges were split, leaning in favour of Marc-Andre Barriault.
The final battle of the night, featured the older of the two Laramie (6-2) brothers against the always entertaining Charles “Air” Jourdain (5-0). Jourdain is known for his acrobatics and flying kicks, hence his nickname, and it was evident from the get go that TJ Laramie was having none of it. Taking the fight to the ground at each and every opportunity that presented itself. Jourdain was never able to establish his style in the fight, and spent the majority of the time on his back, defending against the far superior wrestling of Laramie. As the rounds wore on, it became evident that the only chance Jourdain had of emerging victorious, was by way of a finish, but Laramie had everything shut down tight, as he grappled his way to a title.
With a great night of combat, TKO now has a set of champions with targets on their backs and a group of beady eyed challengers aiming to claim those belts for themselves; meaning the coming year will be very entertaining for fight fans.