Monster mash

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:53 PM ET

Nowadays, Jason Bissonnette keeps his fighting to confined areas.

Growing up on the streets of Vanier, it wasn't always that way for "The Monster."

"School yards, neighbourhoods ... I seemed to like to solve all types of problems with my hands," remembered the 29-year-old. "There was always a fight waiting around the corner."

On this night, it is the corners of a ring at the Robert Guertin Centre in Gatineau, and the Monster's scrap is with Steve Hazelton from Pembroke.

It is one of 10 mixed martial arts bouts on the card at Freedom Fight 2008, and, in the words of promoter Pete Rodley, The Monster "pounds him to dust on the ground."

'COME BACK FOR ME'

The Monster is asked if he won 'em all as a kid.

"I'd say a lot of them. About 90%," he figured. "I took a couple of whuppings, but it never bothered me. I'd always come back for more."

That is, until four years ago and the completion of his second jail term for assault.

The Monster made a "pact" with himself on the day he last left a room sealed by bars. He swore to make sure he'd never be back. Unleashing his wrath in a street brawl wasn't worth the price he'd have to pay later, he decided.

He has five children now -- Jayden is six, Jayla and Jordan are both four, and 16-month old twins Jahlani and Nikkiah -- and he is engaged to Camille Lawrence. He builds custom aquariums and helps people with their salt water tanks, and he's determined to make the small business he has grow.

More time in the slammer doesn't figure into the equation.

Saturday's fight was The Monster's third as a pro; the rest of his stress is released in the Fit MMA gym where he trains.

"I loved the sport and I wanted to get in there," he said of his introduction to the mixed martial arts. When asked about his star appeal, other than the nickname slapped on him by his manager for marketing purposes, The Monster added: "I'm a competitor. I don't mind eating punches to give a good punch. The fans like it."

The crowd very much enjoyed every one of the matches in the most recent of three Freedom Fight shows here.

More than 3,000 folks were on hand to see:

- Mark "Boots" Holst of the Ottawa Academy of Mixed Martial Arts put on a Muay Thai clinic while cutting and beating Sudbury's Justin Doyon.

Holst was supposed to fight Derek Giroux, but the latter had to cancel when his house in Nickel City burned down Thursday, the night before the weigh-in.

Doyon stepped in for his Team Shredder teammate, taking the fight on three hours' notice and losing 10 lbs. in two hours in a sauna to meet the limit.

"That guy has all my respect for taking the fight," Rodley said of Doyon, "and Mark Holst has all my respect taking a new opponent at the last minute like that."

- Clint Marton from the Ottawa Academy of Mixed Martial Arts take down his opponent and pound away, eventually catching Belgium's Dmitri Waardenburgh in an arm bar for the victory.

- Ottawa's Andre Desrociers, the first Canadian military major to compete in MMA, defeat Sudbury's Michael Aubin by TKO.

- Ian "Junkyard" Dawe of Ottawa's Fit MMA beat London, Ont.'s Todd Wood via TKO.

- Oshawa's Eric Muir, the "Vin Diesel of MMA" defeat Pembroke's Rob Tracey by TKO.

- Markhaile "Showtime" Wedderburn defeat Barrie kick boxer Joel "Demolition Man" Davis with strikes.

- Sudbury's Dan "Big House" Grandmaison defeat Fit MMA's Stephan Lamarche by arm bar.

- And in the main event, Kemptville's Craig "Farmer" Brown of Fit MMA answer the crowd's chants of his name by taking a decision over Marcus "The Loud Mouth Assassin" Hicks, a Vancouver native who was fighting for the 16th time in 19 months.

"It was the longest fight I ever had," said Farmer Brown. "The guy was as tough as nails."

Hicks reciprocated the admiration for his opponent, calling the Farmer "classy."

Said Hicks: "He was far and away the physically strongest guy I've ever faced. He can take a shot and he can give them."

Hicks, a 30-year old who trains out of Calgary, makes a living off MMA.

Calling himself "the travelling guy," he is indeed accommodating, fluctuating his weight to meet the request.

"I'm 3-0 at 185 lbs, 4-8 now at 205 and 1-0 as a heavyweight," he said.

"And I missed five due to injury.

"This is what I do, I fight and I live off my sponsors. I've fought in more places than anyone in Canada. I'll basically fight anyone and I've never been blown out in a fight.

"I took everything (Farmer) had," he added proudly. "He threw the kitchen sink at me and he couldn't finish me."

Equally as pleased with himself was Rodley.

To the audience he introduced Robin Black, and announced that the rock star

will make his MMA debut against "The Pit Bull", Pettawa's Chris Myra of Petawawa, with the date and venue will be announced in a week or so.

And Rodley beamed when his 11-year-old son Josh made his ring announcing debut, introducing the battlers in the Dawe-Wood fight.

"He was nervous going in but he kicked ass," said Rodley. "The crowd totally dug it, and he made poppa proud, for sure."

As did the participants he brought in for the Freedom Fight 2008.

"What a show dude. Best fights ever," said Rodley. "Top to bottom. Not one guy let me down.

"It was the biggest gate yet. The popularity has grown big time. I'm very, very pleased. I'd like to come back in the summer. I love Ottawa-Gatineau.

"Anyone who missed it, I'm sorry they did. We'll cram another 400 or 500 in, then start looking for another venue in the area."

When he does, The Monster will no doubt be ready to go. Same with Boots, Farmer Brown, The Loudmouth Assassin and the rest of his Freedom Fighters.


Photos