There was plenty at stake for Edmonton's Victor Valimaki on last night's TFC 8: Salvation mixed martial arts card at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Nothing short of a win against California invader Lew Poley in the TFC light heavyweight title fight would give him a chance for a return shot to the UFC as he tries to scap back up the MMA ladder.
He got it in a unanimous decision, scored 49-46 by all three judges.
In a fight that more resembled a kickboxing match, the fighters went toe-to-toe for most of the five rounds.
"He's a big, strong guy and I didn't want him on top of me," said Valimaki, who improved to 16-5.
"I'm actually better on the ground and I feel I can do more than when I stand up. He was trying to take me down.
"I expected it ... and I think he knew I expected it. He did get me down a couple of times, but I got out of it."
Valimaki finally turned it on and had Poley dancing around the perimiter of the cage in the fourth as the crowd roared in approval as Valimaki's relentless attack bloodied Poley's nose.
"Victor was a better man tonight," said a gracious Poley, 10-3.
In the other main event, Edmonton's Ryan (The Real Deal) Ford took little time to dominate Toronto's Markhale Wedderburn.
After Ford won by a rear naked choke at 1:24 of the opening round, a member of Wedderburn's entourage charged into the cage, which quickly overlowed with pushing and shoving from both corners before the situation was brought under control.
Ford couldn't resist a parting shot at his opponent.
"I think my little sister can fight better than that," he said.
In the prelims:
- Darcy Boizard of Fort McMurray stopped Edmonton's Jason Bowen at 4:04 of the second round due to unanswered punches in the pro debut for both fighters.
- Wetaskiwin's Tyson Russell moved to 1-1 with a second-round win over Edmonton's Brent Haley, 0-2.
- Victoria's Tarek Gebali, 2-0, needed just 21 seconds to unleash a flurry of punches and score a TKO over Rob Ryan of Lethbridge, 0-1.
- Winnipeg's Curtis Demarce upped his record to 5-4 with a unanimous decision over Edmonton's Chris Ade, 16-15.
- Ryan McGillivray improved to 9-4 with a rear naked choke at 4:27 of the first round over Adam Thomas of Vancouver, 10-7.