Making the big switch to MMA

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Mark Durant wants to keep fighting, so he made a move that will enable him to do just that.

The Winnipegger started out as a Muay Thai kickboxer, but he has since decided to ride the massive wave of mixed martial arts. It's almost as if the switch was made for him.

"It seems like right now everything is going towards MMA," Durant said. "Back in the day, in kickboxing, I could fight every month if I wanted to. Now MMA is blowing up since The Ultimate Fighter, the first season.

"Everything is MMA now. So I had to make the switch or I float away into the history books."

Durant made his MMA debut on the CFC 2 card at the Convention Centre last night, and he made it one to remember, winning a majority decision over Toronto's Joseph Latour in a highly entertaining undercard bout.

The highlight of the night, however, had to be Eric Perez's victory over Montreal's Dmitri Waardenburg. The two came out swinging and didn't let up, with Perez getting knocked to his knees twice.

But the hometown fighter persevered and administered a rear naked choke, bringing the roaring crowd to its feet.

In the main event, Winnipeg's Joe (El Dirte) Doerksen put a triangle choke on France's Greg (The Blade) Babene in the second round, much to the delight of those in attendance. Doerksen, who was cut in the first round, raced around the ring, stepped up on the ropes and soaked up the cheers.

There were no serious incidents last night like the one that occurred at the inaugural Canadian Fighting Championship in February. That's when Dean Lewis of Fort McMurray, Alta., ended up in hospital for five days after his three-round fight with Perez.

Lewis, who plans to resume his fighting career in Winnipeg, was in Perez's corner last night.

February's incident spurred a call from Winnipeg city councillor Grant Nordman to ban MMA events at city-owned facilities like the Convention Centre, but it didn't stop 2,000 fans from filling the facility last night.

The locals ended up winning five of the eight bouts. (Dangerous) Dave Zuniga won a unanimous decision over Toronto's Alex Ricci in the lone Muay Thai fight of the night, while Justin Barnard ran his MMA record to 7-0 when he put a triangle choke on Nick (The Lunatic) Portieous of Cornwall, Ont., in the second round.

The news wasn't as good for Winnipeg's other fighters. Serge (And Destroy) Rochon suffered a first-round knockout loss to Montreal's Francois Lacombe, Dominick Blais tapped out against Sebastien Garguier of Victorville, Calif., due to a first-round ankle lock, and Chris Fontaine lost by TKO in the second round to Kenora's Jesse Bongfeldt.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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