Fivestar Fight League kicked off their all-amateur fight series on Friday with a nine-bout MMA (mixed martial arts)/kickboxing card at Tumbler Ridge.
Among those experiencing the taste of victory at the "Rumble on the Ridge" was a pair of Dawson Creek fighters, Chance Sandberg and Evan Ollenberger.
In his first career MMA fight, Sandberg defeated Yellowknife's James Williams with a TKO (by punches) 2:15 in the second round. While Ollenberger, a kickboxer with Black Muay Thai, made quick work of his opponent with a TKO win over Peace River's Brad Laboucan 1:19 into the first round.
"Chance's fight went really well," explained Jason Carter, Sandberg's trainer with Northern Warrior Academy in Dawson Creek. "He had the game plan to come in striking, which worked well for him."
Sandberg stuck to what he knows best - throwing punches - which he traded with Williams until getting him to the mat late in the second until Williams was unable to defend himself.
"[Chance] just kind of wore him down and kept throwing them and the ref stopped it," said Carter.
"He trained hard so it was good for him to take the win. He definitely had the gas over the other guy so it worked out nice," added Carter.
As for Ollenberger, his kicks proved too much for Laboucan, according to Carter.
"They exchanged blows back and forth and Evan unloaded on him [Laboucan] pretty well," noted Carter. "He had his right foot going power and then he kind of did some switch kicks and he caught [Laboucan]with his left foot over and over and the ref had to stop it."
Three other Dawson Creek MMA fighters took to the ring for their first career fights, but suffered disappointment, despite strong efforts.
Cole Tremblay and Dakota Huard, also of Northern Warrior, lost their bouts but managed to go late in their matches. Meanwhile, Kyle Mineault of Shadow MMA fell to Rainbow Lake's Dean Berger in the first round.
In the night's main event, Tremblay went the full distance (three rounds) with Grande Prairie's William Quintal, but the decision favoured Quintal, who used his ground game against a karate-trained Tremblay.
"Cole Tremblay had an excellent fight. He went all three rounds and ended up in a split decision, losing by a single point," explained Carter, who feels Tremblay will be a strong fighter once he gets used to his counter-attack on the mat.
"It was good experience for him working his opposite game (on the ground)," added Carter. "But [Cole] fought a good fight in his first MMA experience, he landed some nice leg kicks and body shots."
The win over Tremblay gives Quintal a 2-0 amateur record, after winning his premiere bout at Fivestar's "Hierarchy" in Dawson Creek this May.
For Huard, he wasn't far off hearing the final bell against Grande Prairie's Alex Martinez, who stunned Huard with less than a minute left in the third round before winning the bout by TKO (punches).
"A kick to the head surprised Dakota and caught him off guard and they went to the ground, where the ref had to stop it," said Carter.
Martinez was a last-minute fill in for Huard's originally scheduled welterweight opponent, Todd Vatcher, who suffered delays on the highway from Yellowknife.
As for the rest of the card, Peace River's Brandon Cardinal defeated Lloyd Kenny of Williams Lake by TKO at 34 seconds of the first round in one of the night's five listed kickboxing matches.
Pernell Kirby and Jason Bradley gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about, winning their kickboxing matches in front of 750 strong at the Tumbler Ridge Community Arena.
Kirby defeated Jacob Moore of McLennan, Alta. with a three-round unanimous decision; and Bradley knocked out Chetwynd's David Polkinghorne 27 seconds into the first round.
Tumbler Ridge's Phil Dufresne, however, had no such luck, losing his bout to Prince George's Alan McPherson by TKO in the first round.
Fivestar takes their show on the road this summer, as they get set to host the "Barefoot Beach Battle", Aug. 9 in Penticton, B.C. at the Barefoot Beach Resort on Skaha Lake.