The Ottawa area is developing a reputation as a bit of a hotbed for mixed martial arts.
More and more skilled fighters are emerging from the area and while ancient rules won't allow an event to be held in Ontario, local fans will be treated to a rock-solid card, top to bottom, this Saturday (7 p.m.), at Gatineau's Robert Guertin Centre.
The event, W1: Inception, is already a huge success, with about 3,000 tickets sold. And it's no wonder, with some big-time talent on hand.
Carlos "The Ronin" Newton, a former UFC champion (he held the belt Georges St. Pierre currently wears) will face Nabil "The Thrill" Khatib in the main event.
Canada's first UFC champion and former No. 1-ranked fighter in the world, Newton has faced almost every superstar of his era, including Kazushi Sakuraba, Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes, Jose Landi-Jons, Anderson Silva, Renzo Gracie and Matt Lindland.
"This is the best card the Ottawa area has seen," says W1 president and CEO Jack Bateman, who's got an impressive MMA background of his own. "You've got guys four or five fights down from the main event who have headlined other shows. It's a very stacked card."
He says the Newton-Khatib battle should be "a real war."
And he's looking forward to some of the other bouts, too.
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT?
"I'm really excited about Tom Waters vs. Christopher Boisvert. It's the debut for both fighters. But this could be the fight of the night.
"(Boisvert) is one of the best kick fighters in Quebec and (Waters) is Canadian, but he's been fighting in Chicago, where he's the King of the Ring champion in Chicago. They're both guys who just love to fight. That's one match where I'm going to put everything down to watch."
Mark "Boots" Holst, who will fight Mark "The Hammer" Grandmont, is a guy with plenty on the line.
""If (Holst) wins two or three more fights at a high level, he'll get a call to move up to the UFC," says Bateman.
Former CFLer, pro wrestler and Team 1200 host Glenn Kulka wil also be in action, facing Josh Strickland in what should be a slugfest.
Bateman says W1 is just trying to establish its niche.
"The UFC has its market cornered," says Bateman. "We're basically modelling ourselves after Strike Force. Almost 50% of our card is local. We realize our place. We're not the UFC and we don't intend to be the UFC."
Here are the other matches: Sean Quinn (Infight, Regina) vs. Remi "Bam Bam" Morvan (OAMA, Ottawa); TBA vs. Craig "Farmer" Brown (FIT MMA, Ottawa); Fred Pilon (Wrecking Gym, Montreal) vs. Stephane Bernadel (OAMA, Ottawa); Mike "Hurricane" Hong (BAMA, Burlington) vs. Mike Clark (Speedy Gym, Granby); Matt Long (NX Martial Arts, Ottawa) vs. Mustafa Khalil (Ronin MMA, Ottawa); Denis Poirier (Team Keiko, Bathhurst) vs. John Macphearson (BAMA, Burlington); Fred Belanger (Team Shredder, Sudbury) vs. Jeffrey Laughren (100% Martial Arts Rockland); and Thomas Arrand (Bruckmann MMA, Oshawa) vs. Xavier Desroches (OAMA, Ottawa).
Tickets are available at ticketmaster.ca. Visit w1mma.com for more information.