Yukon MMA fighters set to enter octagon

Two local fighters from Avalanche MMA are getting ready to enter the cage. Cliff Schultz and TJ Woodman will be the first mixed martial artists to represent the Riverdale club in amateur bouts.

Two local fighters from Avalanche MMA are getting ready to enter the cage.

Cliff Schultz and TJ Woodman will be the first mixed martial artists to represent the Riverdale club in amateur bouts. The two are scheduled to enter the octagon in the next installment of Valley Fight MMA in Chilliwack, BC, on September 2.

“We’re really excited – I just can’t wait,” said Schultz, who owns and operates Avalanche MMA with his wife Erin. “(The organizer) said, ‘I want you to fight at least two, three times a year – get the ball rolling.’

“It’s in the cage and everything, so it’s kind of exciting.”

Win or lose, the bouts represent a big stepping-stone for Avalanche MMA, which opened in November.

The two amateur fights will be the first of many, said Schultz, for both him and Avalanche members.

“It’s exciting because we have the opportunity to go every two months, if we feel we’re healthy enough,” said Schultz. “So we can fight as much as four or five times a year.

“We have another six or seven fighters who want to go out. They just have to wait their turn for fights to come up.”

With just tournament experience under his belt at this point, it will be the first amateur bout for Schultz, who will probably fight in the 170-pound weight-class.

“For the first fight, you don’t want to cut too much weight,” said Schultz. “You just want to go in there and show your stuff. But he said I’d be more comfortable at 170 because of my size.”

It will be Woodman’s first bout in about two years. Originally from Whitehorse, Woodman, recently moved back to town from Lethbridge, Alberta, where he had two amateur fights, winning both by submission, “Within a minute or so,” he said.

“I’m excited. I’m ready to do it again – it’s been a while.”

One other Avalanche member might be making the trip, and is waiting to find out if there is room on the fight card for him.

Whitehorse’s Miller Rogers is hoping to also get his first amateur bout at Valley Fight.

“He probably just started training in September/October, and he just gets better each time,” said Schultz of Rogers. “He’s been part of the club from the beginning. We’re like family now.

“He just turned 20 and really wants to get in there and fight. He has a passion for it.

“We might be the only club in Whitehorse, but now we have the chance to send people out, give them the opportunity to see what they got, and to represent Avalanche MMA too.”

While Yukon fighters currently need to travel to Outside bouts, that might not always be the case.

Avalanche MMA is working to bring sanctioned fights to Whitehorse with two separate organizers.

Sean O’Halloran, from Valley Fights (and Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas), is working with Schultz to organize MMA bouts in Whitehorse later this year. However, with Takhini Arena now largely booked due to the June 24 fire at the Canada Games Centre, those plans have been delayed.

“We’re working together towards getting actual fights in Whitehorse – and down south so I can actually send fighters and bring other fighters in,” said Schultz.

Avalanche is also in talks with Keith Varga from Quest for the Title, out of Victoria, BC, about holding kickboxing bouts in Whitehorse, fully sanctioned by ISKA (International Sport Karate Association).

“I flew ISKA president Cory Schaffer, in from Gainesville, Florida to Victoria to conduct judging clinics and train officials on Vancouver Island,” wrote Varga in an email to the News. “This has provided us with fully trained, sanctioned judges and officials.

“It would be my plan to fly these officials up to Whitehorse in October for two purposes. One, to provide fair judging for all the fighters involved. Two, to offer judging clinics and training to those interested in learning how to judge. These new judges would be able to shadow-judge alongside the experienced officials, gaining the needed experience to provide the Yukon with trained judges for future events.”

For those interested in seeing more of what the sport is all about, O’Halloran will be in town this weekend to conduct his second MMA seminar at Avalanche, Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 to 1 p.m.

“He’s a really talented guy and an amazing teacher,” said Schultz. “It would be a really good thing for everyone who can come out, to come out.

“He’s a black belt in taekwondo, he’s a black belt in karate, he’s a black belt in jujitsu, he’s a Greco-Roman wrestler – he has so much background, it’s unreal.

“He also has a contract with Fight Force

– it’s pretty much a branch off UFC.”

Avalanche MMA offers mixed martial arts training and instruction on Tuesdays and Thursdays and open “mat time” on weekend afternoons, “which means anyone can come in and train, like a regular gym,” said Schultz.

Boxing, women’s kickboxing and youth MMA classes will be starting up again around the end of the summer.

For more information, contact Avalanche MMA at avalanchemma@hotmail.com, or find them on Facebook.

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