While boxing class wraps up at the new Fivestar Mixed Martial Arts and Crossfit facility, several of the 20 or so in attendance jump feet first into a wrestling lesson.
There’s a learning curve to be found— part of the continued developing tradition at fivestar to get MMA fighters their first taste of action on local fight cards.
That will be the case again on April 22, for Fivestar Fight League 17 “Relentless”, where half of the local fighters will be in their first or second fight, a fact that always intrigues president and CEO of the FFL Justin Donally.
“You’ve got a lot of exciting young guys,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of kids from the gym coming up that for me personally I’m excited to see some kids that have been training here for the last three years that are ready to go— first fight or second fight… they are coming back after six months (since their last fight) and they have evolved. For me, that’s exciting.”
Connor White, 19, is one of those young fighters anxious for another crack in the ring, after losing his first career bout in October in Dawson Creek. He said he’s much more prepared this time around and will face off against Ryan Holmen of Grande Prairie in his first career fight.
“I’ve just been focusing a lot on technique and just keeping my cardio up so I can make sure I won’t power out so I can keep pushing the pace, he said. “I’ve been working on my standup a lot lately. I come from a wrestling background, but I’m not afraid to standup and then maybe takedown if I need to.”
While newbies are always interesting, the hometown crowd will likely get to see the heartbreak kid Duncan Wilson (7-4) defend his title against Dejan Kajic (7-5-2), another intriguing part of the card for Donally.
“Anytime Duncan Wilson goes in the ring it’s always exciting, so that’s a great main event,” he said.
Fort St. John favourite Dylan Lielke (9-1) will once again try out his kickboxing skills, this time on Jarrett Vornbrock (4-0). Lielke won his last kickboxing fight by decision, but this time around will be looking to end the fight before that point.
“He’s a fast guy, he’s a smaller guy than I’m used to fighting so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. If I’m going to fast enough to catch him and cut him off,” Lielke said. “I’m just trying to round out my MMA game… we’ll test Vornbrock and see how tough he is. He’s got to mentally tough because he’s coming up a weight class.”
The kickboxing match is also a unique one because it pits two fivestar MMA champions, Lielke the featherweight champ and Vornbrock the flyweight champ.
“Their weight class is a little bit far apart to do an MMA fight and they are both going to try out for the national team (in May)… so this gives them a good opportunity to compete and have some fun,” Donally added.
Matt Kertesz (2-2) is one of the other seven locals on the card and after his opponent dropped out off the card last spring, it’s been a long year out of the competitive game and he’s eager to prove he’s still got what it takes to win in the ring.
“My last fight got called off so I feel like I’ve been preparing forever and I’m just excited to get back in there,” he said. “A bunch guys of guys here are fighting so it’s easy to get into [the fighting] mentality because everybody here is in the same boat. So we feed off each other.”
Ticket sales for the fight have been about what was expected according to Donally and will available right up until fight night.
“Considering the economy and the way things are, we’ve been getting a pretty good turnout for ticket sales,” Donally said.
“Like any other business we budgeted accordingly for what’s been going on. I’m pretty happy for what we’ve seen for support on this card.”