Main event a big hit in London

Brent Franczuz throws a kick against David Harris during their fight Thursday night at MMALive at...

Brent Franczuz throws a kick against David Harris during their fight Thursday night at MMALive at the John Labatt Centre in London. Harris won in a unanimous decision. (QMI Agency/Mike Hensen)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

LONDON, ONT. - In the entertainment business, the rule is always to leave them wanting more.

The 3,293 fans who attended London's MMA experiment at the John Labatt Centre Thursday night left remembering a main event worthy of that title.

Karo (The Heat) Parisyan and Ryan (The Real Deal) Ford saved the evening for organizers of the first pro mixed martial arts event in London, MMALIVE 1.

Parisyan, a veteran of UFC, and Canadian Ford, who was 14-3 going into the fight but never fought outside Canada, put on a show.

Many believed Parisyan to be washed out but he took it to Ford on the ground and looked ready to win.

But as he moved in to take Ford down in the third round he ran into a knee to the forehead. It opened a cut that gushed blood like Old Faithful.

After trying to stop the cut for more than two minutes, the ringside doctor decided Parisyan couldn't continue.

"That's what you want," said UFC featherweight contender Mark Hominick, who worked the corner for one of the fights.

"You want them remembering a good fight and that was a good main event."

The card needed something good.

Until the main event, the JLC looked like a main event facility but was missing the dynamic bouts that would make people want to come back.

It had the music, the noise and the audience was more than willing to participate but the bottom line became more clear as the night went on . . . you need bigger names and a few more local fighters to really get over the top, especially when the top priced ticket is about $160.

There were some good bouts and some stinkers. It was enough to send the crowd home without getting too ornery, but some had the feeling there should have been a little more.

Prior to the main event, the best bout came when Hamilton's Al Wilson made his pro debut against Brampton's Theo Toney. Toney was 5-2.

What looked like a mismatch wound up being just that but not the way any one suspected. After Wilson got rid of some of his jitters, he thrilled the crowd with a terrific attack both standing up and on the ground.

He pounded out a victory, submitting Toney with a rear-naked choke.

"I would put him up with anyone at 145 in Ontario outside of the UFC," said his coach David Mair. "He's been waiting forever for this chance."

The 24-year-old has been working at this since he was 16.

With the MMA not legal in Ontario until recently, fighters from the province like Wilson had trouble finding fights.

"I would be almost on an airplane for a fight and it would get cancelled. I've had fight after fight cancelled," he said. "This first fight was everything I thought it would be and more."

Jones Entertainment Group owns three licences for cards in Ontario. London was the first. The next one is in Sudbury. The site of the final card is yet to be determined and that one isn't until mid-October.

This was as much a test card as anything but the hope was obvious. Hold the first one in a big venue while people where slathering about MMA coming to Ontario and see where it goes.

"If we get 3,500 I'll be thrilled and I'd think about bringing the card in October back to London," said Brad Jones of Jones Entertainment. "We learned a lot putting this on."

To the organizers' credit the JLC transformed nicely into an MMA facility. All the requirements were there, including UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones, who made an appearance after attending the afternoon's MMA Expo exhibit.

How did the Jones Entertainment Group (no relation to Bones) do?

Jones wouldn't comment on what it cost to put the show on but there was no doubt it cost more than anyone expected.

"All I will tell you was we didn't chintz on the fighters. We treated them first class," Jones said.

With a card lacking a lot of big names, the big hope was that the fights were good ones so the crowd would be appeased.

It was about 20 seconds into the first round when it became obvious what the crowd wanted. Almost immediately Daniel Langbeen and Lyndon Whitlock went to the mat.

"Stand up," came the leather-lung shout five seconds later.

When they didn't stand up in five seconds, another shout of "stand up" assailed the fighters.

In the end, the main event helped sell the night but at best the evening can be classified a draw.

MMALIVE 1

  • Lyndon Whitlock def. Daniel Langbeen, triangle choke, 1

  • Bo Harris def. Brent Franczuz, unanimous decisionm 3

  • Alan Wilson def. Theo Toney, naked choke, 2

  • Chuck Mady, def James Haourt, armbar, 1

  • Jason Saggo def. Derek Boyle, naked choke, 3

  • Marcus Aurelo def. Matt MacGrath, arm bar, 1

  • Ryan Ford def. Karo Parisyan, TKO stopped by cut

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