Feature Story                                                                                                      Monday, February 23, 2015


Titans of Clash

MMA fans fill Tzeachten Community Hall for Warpath XII

Staff/Voice photos


Referee Kevin Dornan declares Brent Auger the winner in the Warpath XII MMA Amateur title fight last Friday over contender Derek Apps. Below, Dr. Kris Wiebe examines a fighter during a previous match.


t's the Friday night fights in Chilliwack and I'm ringside for Warpath XII Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) with the biggest baddest bunch of dudes in the Lower Mainland. That's just behind me. In front of me, we've got 9 fights on the card featuring 18 of some of the toughest athletes this side of the Rockies.


This is the greatest show in town for hundreds of people and is not without a superb dinner, beverages, music and lights. It's an evening laced in nostalgia with all the gritty components of an old Brando or Curtis movie. There’s Big Rich the Greaser, Doc, the Ringmaster, Blood Boy, Ring Girls and beautiful women, bouncers, the press, and of course the title belt.


The combatants all meet in a back room for a pre-fight pep talk with UFC Battlefield fighter Darwin Douglas, who along with his wife Francine, promote Warpath MMA in Chilliwack.


It’s Douglas’ show. When he talks, the fighters listen. He waits for a couple of latecomers. It can’t start without them so he has to go looking for them.


Most of the up-and-coming fighters are from out of town and they stay at the Vedder Inn.


When Douglas returns, his talk is reminiscent of union boss Johnny Friendly assigning jobs in On the Waterfront.


“I want everybody on their best behaviour at the inn,” Douglas tells them in no uncertain terms.


Ringside, the action is starting to heat up. The timers, judges and referees take their places.


I walk past Quinn Patterson who's on the boards tonight.


“Hey man, how are you?” he asks.


“Great, haven't seen you in a while. Jeff’s not here? You’re doing it all tonight, huh?” I answered.


“Yeah,” he says with a broad smile. “But Jeff gets all the credit. Hey, I got my own studio up and running, you should come by.”


“For sure, man. Took some shots of you at the boards. Here, have a look,” I said showing him the camera. “If you want any high res just let me know.”


Warpath promoter Darwin Douglas speaks to fighters in a backroom prior to the show. Below, Great Creator Quinn Patterson from Tractorgrease Multimedia works the sounds and lights.


Once in my seat, I turn to the gent next to me, “Are you a timer?” I ask.


“No, I’m an M.D., Kris Wiebe," he says extending his hand. "ER doctor at CGH."


“Oh, Chilliwack General Emergency Room? How’s you’re PTSD doctor?” I ask jokingly and shake.


“We try to stay away from that stuff,” he quips.


“So, you’d like do a couple of stitches right here on these guys if needed?” I ask him.


“Well, I could, but if it’s more than that, then I prefer to do it at the hospital.”


I turn to referee Kevin Dornan on my other side. He also refs the bigs – Battlefield UFC.


The guy’s good. He's never fought a match, but he doesn't need to, to be a great ref. A relaxed Irishman. He’s up there on the mats casual, smiling. Doesn't even break a sweat. The type of ref who comes over to warn fighters with a grin on his face.


“Good luck tonight,” I say to him.


“Thanks,” he says smiling.


Carrielynn Victor, the show’s seasoned Ringmaster, walks by. She's also very good at what she does and knows just how to pump the crowds up. She's even rapped at previous Warpaths.


“Hey Carrielynn, how are you? You know I got some photos of your shoes at the last fights. They’re posted online for our women readers,” I said smiling knowing full well how she feels about her shoes.


“Oh the shoes! Did you?” she exclaims looking down at her sparkling heels giving me my opportunity to rattle off a few.


Promoter Francine Douglas (L) and Ringmaster Carrielynn Victor provide some of the glamour. Below, Victor's sparkling shoes.


She turns and walks up into the cage.


“Are you reaaady to figggghhts,” she sings into the mic. “We are going to have a goooood time tonight ladies and gents. I want everybody to drink lots, but do not drive.”


Between rounds, Blood Boy, Douglas’ son, mops up the cage with his foot and a rag. Ring Girls holding round cards circle the cage to a cacophony of wolf calls.


At intermission, a well-dressed woman saunters up out of the crowd.


“Are you getting pictures of those beautiful ring girls?” she coos leaning on me a little. “You see that one, she’s my daughter, you make sure you get lots of her.”


Douglas strolls by. I’d been waiting for my moment to grab his attention.


“How are you,” I said shaking his hand. “Francine tells me you won your last Battlefield fight. Congratulations, and you only had to take a couple of stitches, hey?”


“Yeah, Fran patched me up,” he says with a laugh.


Despite the beehive the building is, Douglas casually walks around greeting people and directing staff. Francine, on the other hand, is a blur.


She is brainy and very well-versed at dealing with the BC Athletic Commission, which she articulated to me in a phone interview the day prior.


“When are we going to see Darwin fight here?” I ask him.


“Possibly in May. I’m under contract, and you can’t just fight anywhere. So we’ll see.”


Two diminutive 50-50 winners will have lots of tales to tell their friends after getting to pose for photos with the Ring Girls and pick up almost $700 in winnings. Below, Rich the Greaser applies lube to the face of each combatant as they are about to enter the ring.


Behind him, Victor announces a gladiator's name and he emerges into blue lights surrounded by trainers and coaches. She says the other fighter's name and he comes out of the other side bathed in red.


Each combatant has his own ritual of entering the cage. Some stomp up the stairs. Others kneel in prayer before taking their respective corner for the next nine minutes.


The fights begin. At the end of round three one remains on his knees complaining of being short of breath. The doc rushes in and examines him.


The title match goes a couple of rounds, a fighter lays a solid blow to the head of his rival who gets a small cut over one eye. The ref lets them go, but stops it later and waves the doc in.


Doc examines the cut, then turns to the ref shouting over the crowd.


“Nope, that’s it. It’s down to the bone,” says Dornan waving his arms. The crowd explodes. The fighters embrace.


Douglas puts the belt on winner Brent Auger. Dornan gets a hold of the battler’s arm, already in the air, and points to him to make it official.


Derek Apps watches as referee Kevin Dornan calls the title match with Brent Auger. Apps was cut on the eyebrow in the third round to end the fight.


Auger beams triumphantly for the cameras. The glory, the pride, the din of the fans. It was all there Friday night at the fights.


The next Warpath will be in May. Watch The Voice for more information later. Buy tickets anytime at www.warpathmma.com. Those interested in the sport can visit Four Directions Gym at www.fourdirectionsmartialarts.com


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