Unique MMA event kicks off

CON GRIWKOWSKY, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

EDMONTON - In the alphabet soup of Edmonton MMA events, is there room for another concept?

Elaine McCarthy, a former event co-ordinator during the formative years of UFC, has reached into the way-back machine and will test the market Friday night.

‘Let’s Get It on’ MMA makes its debut at the River Cree Casino and Resort Friday, and the concept certainly is something Edmonton fans have yet to experience.

It’s a nine-event elimination tournament in two weight classes at two different locations — Edmonton and Ottawa — rotating venues every month.

Once an east and west champion is declared, the grand finale will be held in Edmonton with the winner getting $25,000 and a chance to move up to higher-profile fights.

“I love the tournament format,” said McCarthy, who hails from Valencia, California. “I worked with the UFC back in the early days

(starting in 1993) when they did tournaments. Obviously, there had to be some changes, but personally I always liked it and I thought if I ever went into promotions, it would be something I would look into doing.

“As far as coming up to Canada, you guys are awesome up here. The fans are amazing. Down in the States, there’s so many other sports you’re competing with, that you kind of get mixed in with the rest. Here, the fans are amazing and that’s one of the reason I chose Canada. You guys like fights.”

McCarthy has added a few wrinkles that distinguish her promotion.

Ticket buyers have the option of purchasing a pre-event sit-down meal.

McCarthy also promises a fast-paced experience with an intermission-free nine-bout card that’s going to last just over two hours, an ambitious lightning-fast package that would be a refreshing change in this market.

Having Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald in the main event gives the card some marquee value, even though he is not in the elimination tournament.

“I know Jason from the years he worked in the UFC,” said McCarthy.

“He’s a great draw, an amazing fighter and I’m glad he’s fighting Matt (Horwich) again.”

The fighters in the best in the west elimination tournament fall into two weight classes.

“The 170 and 155 (pounds) gives us the biggest pool to draw from,” said McCarthy, who figures to expand the format if it goes over well in its inaugural season.

“This is just season one,” said McCarthy. “The River Cree Athletic Association has been amazing to deal with, they’ve made my job easier.

“I definitely plan on a season two. We’ll look at different weight classes in season two — probably 185.”

McCarthy seems to understand the Canadian market and can expound on how hockey fans love their fights up here.

“Hockey is obviously the No. 1 sport here and I’m telling you, fighting comes a close second, right?” McCarthy said. “In Canada, it’s really, really growing.”

McCarthy is married to “Big” John McCarthy, considered to be one of MMA’s top officials.

Although this promotion is strictly her own deal, she still keeps her hand in that area of the sport.

Besides doing promotions, McCarthy is a program co-ordinator for an international officials training course and runs one of the biggest MMA gyms in southern California.

Now, if she can keep the card fast-paced, this promotion may come out a winner.

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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