When four BC mixed martial artists stepped in the ring against fighters from Whitehorse’s Avalanche MMA at Warpath Mixed Martial Arts on Friday in Chilliwack, BC, they didn’t know what they were up against.
The fights were the first ever for Avalanche MMA, which opened less than a year ago.
And their BC opponents wouldn’t like the outcome.
Before a sold-out crowd of 800, all four Whitehorse fighters were triumphant.
“It was the best experience of my life,” said Cliff Schultz, who owns and operates Avalanche MMA with wife Erin. “Because we are so new in it, it was amazing how well we did. We pretty much dominated, so it was kind of nice.
“It was unreal stepping into the ring, especially with victory after victory – it was phenomenal. Avalanche MMA just rolled over top of everybody.”
Capping the Warpath’s nine bouts was the main event with Avalanche’s TJ Woodman, 27, in the 145-pound class. Woodman was pushed into the main event less than a week before, when his original opponent was unable to make the fight card.
“It was a little bit nerve-racking, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Woodman. “Obviously I knew I would be fighting a better guy, being in the main event.”
Woodman was up against experienced fighter Josh Williams, from Final Round Martial Arts in Duncan, BC, with a 4-3 record.
“It started off all right. It went to the ground pretty quick,” said Woodman, who spent the majority of the first round on his back. “I didn’t mind being on my back; I’m pretty good on my back. Right at the end of the (first round) I reversed him and got on top, landed a few punches.”
In the first round Woodman got Williams in an armbar submission lock, but an illegal spiking move (attempting to drop an opponent on their head) from Williams caused the referee to separate the fighters.
“I still had the arm bar in, but the ref stopped it,” said Woodman. “It was not the best stoppage because I could have finished the fight right away.”
Woodman eventually won the fight with a third armbar attempt, two minutes and 50 seconds into Round 2.
The only Avalanche athlete to have previous fights under his belt going into Warpath, Woodman (3-0) won his first two amateur bouts while living in Lethbridge, Alberta, both in the first round.
“TJ really showed experience and even at the amateur level, he’s a main event,” said Warpath organizer Sean O’Halloran. “I could see TJ Woodman possibly going pro soon.”
Avalanche also poured over the competition in the co-main event, with Schultz defeating Tom McCormick, from Chilliwack’s Revolution team, in the 170-pound class.
Schultz won by unanimous decision after going the full three rounds. McCormick, who went in with a 0-1 amateur record, showed more aggression in the ring, but Schultz wore him down with continuous chops to his opponent’s legs.
“One of my coaches told me he doesn’t like leg kicks,” said Schultz, 34. “So I started off with a little bit of stand up and went straight for his legs and took out his legs, because this guy was a really good striker. So I took out his legs so he couldn’t strike and dominated all three rounds doing that.
“So I kept to my game plan and it worked out quite well.”
Whitehorse’s Stefan Brynjolssfon, 25, started Avalanche out on the right foot, winning in the 180-pound class to open Warpath. Brynjolfsson won by a rear naked choke 2:13 into Round 1 against Luis Terrero from the Chilliwack Revolution Gym. It was both fighters’ first amateur bout.
“It was a great experience,” said Brynjolfsson. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better – all four of us won, which was great. It went better than expected.
“It really put us on the map down there with amateur fight leagues.”
Surprisingly, Brynjolfsson left the ring completely unscathed, without being dealt a single blow.
“It was awesome. I totally didn’t expect it to go as well as it did, that’s for sure,” said Brynjolfsson, who has been training in MMA for about two years. “I figured I was going to win, but I actually didn’t get hit once, so it worked out really well for me.
“I heard that he had a bit of boxing skill, so I wanted to go in there and show him I could stand up with him. As soon as he would get frustrated with that, I figured he would try to take me down, and that’s where I excel: on the ground. That’s exactly what happened.
“It’s only after the last year that I really put a lot of time into (MMA),” added Brynjolfsson. “It’s been awesome having (Avalanche MMA) there.”
Fighting in the 155-pound class, Avalanche’s Miller Rogers ended his opponent’s undefeated streak. Taking on Final Round Martial Arts’ Allan “Little Bear” George, Rogers won 1:01 into Round 2 with a triangle choke.
“It was awesome – I couldn’t explain the feeling,” said Rogers. “It’s unlike anything I’ve felt before. It was an amazing feeling to get my first win in my first fight. It couldn’t have gone better for me.”
George was saved by the bell in the first round after Rogers got him in a rear naked choke. For the second-round win, Rogers tripped George, got him from behind and rolled him over, putting him in the triangle choke.
Despite his opponent having a 2-0 record and the nickname “Little Bear,” Rogers didn’t let intimidation become a factor.
“I went in there like he was anyone else, just used my height, used my reach, kept him away,” said Rogers. “I did exactly what I wanted to do at the end of the fight.”
The least experienced of the four Avalanche fighters, Rogers, 20, only started to concentrate on MMA with the opening of Avalanche MMA in Riverdale last November.
“I started when the gym opened up – it was off and on before then,” said Rogers. “As soon as the gym opened up, it was pretty much 100 per cent.
“They accepted me into the gym with open arms and I just couldn’t ask for a better team.”
Though still fresh out of the ring, all four Avalanche fighters seem to be itching to get back in it, and they might not have long to wait. The next installment of Warpath, formerly Valley Fights, is tentatively scheduled for November.
“Yukoners will be invited back,” said O’Halloran. “I’ve taught quite a few seminars up there and the last time Cliff Schultz and TJ Woodman both got promoted to their purple belts (in jujitsu). That was actually quite a big thing; George St. Pierre was at his purple belt in jujitsu when he became champion, so it shows the skill level that Cliff and TJ have now.”
According to Shultz, Warpath was just the beginning. Working with other promoters, Avalanche could be sending fighters off monthly to bouts down south. And with summer drawing to a close, and other Avalanche fighters returning to town, others will be entering the ring in debut amateur bouts.
“I just have to talk to them, most of them have been working through the summer and now they are all coming back into town,” said Schultz. “There are three or four other guys who wouldn’t mind going out.
“We’re going to try to get as many fighters as we can to start fighting because they can go out any time. We might have a fight as early as October 15.
“It’s going to be fight, after fight, after fight now.”
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