April 10, 2010
Fighters promote fitness
By JANE SIMS, QMI Agency
London is where three, premier, mixed martial arts fighters are in training.
But when they compete, they're always the away team.
That's the challenge for Sam Stout, Mark Hominick and Chris Horodecki, all mixed martial arts (MMA) competitors developing strong international reputations for their guts and athleticism.
While they're revered on the MMA circuit and in bouts all over the world, Ontario won't allow professional bouts within its borders.
"We'd love to fight at the JLC (John Labatt Centre), said Horodecki, 22, nicknamed the Polish Hammer.
On Saturday, at the Western Fair's Fitness and Lifestyle Show, they will be hosting a submission grappling tournament, part of the promotion of their gym, the Adrenaline Training Centre on Dundas St., that trains competitors and promotes fitness.
Their hope is the Ontario government soon will tap out on the law and open the door to showcasing their sport closer to home.
These three good-natured, relaxed athletes patiently answer questions about the basics of the sport with assurances that despite its violent reputation, it's a test of skill and athleticism.
Stout, 25, is a rising star in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the premier mixed marital arts division. He has world and North American championships in martial arts disciplines and has been awarded UFC Fight of the Night four times.
He's convinced his sport would get a rousing reception within the province, especially in London.
A recent card in Montreal sold out and an estimated 40% of the fans there were from Ontario. He also was in Toronto in March with UFC president Dana White at the downtown Eaton Centre, where 10,000 fans showed up to get a glimpse of the stars.
The combination sport of wrestling, boxing, kick boxing, karate and jujijtsu "pushes you to the limits," said the fighter known as Hands of Stone.
He shrugged off a black eye he was given during his intense training and said he prides himself on "seeing how you can go" when facing off against a competitor.
"It's a rush, it's a crazy high," said Horodecki, who is making a name in World Extreme Cagefighting, the sister circuit of the UFC for lighter weight classes.
Hominick, 27, originally from Thamesford and known as the Machine, turned pro at 18 and also competes in the WEC. He said the sport is growing in popularity because "it's the most real or rare form of competition" that requires "a complete fighter, a complete athlete."
"People are just starting to understand the sport," he said.
While Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said changing the law to allow MMA cards in the province isn't a priority, Hominick said it's inevitable it'll soon be allowed in Ontario.
"There's too much demand, too much money to be made," he said.
The Western Fair show allowed them to "show the positive part" of MMA and tap into the fan base.
If a show comes to London, Hominick said, "we are the guys."