Make no mistake — mixed martial arts is more than a hobby to Chris Chapman.
“I want to make a career out of this,” said the Red Deer fighter, after defeating Adam Wills of Cranbrook, B.C., with a guillotine choke in the Havoc Fighting Championship 3 card before roughly 1,500 fans Friday night at the Westerner Prairie Pavilion. “I’ve been training full-time for this fight. I think I could do it for a living.”
Chapman, 20, ventured into the sport in 2010. His victory Friday made him the first amateur lightweight (155 pounds) champion of the fledgling HFC and he’s now looking onwards and upwards.
“I’ve been training for only three years, which isn’t a long time to get a belt. But I hope to do this for a long time,” he said.
Chapman fought for a title recently in Saskatchewan and lost a close decision. At that point, he realized his preparation wasn’t where it needed to be.
A trip to Montreal and a month training at the Tristar Gym — the home of UFC legend Georges St. Pierre — gave him the edge he needed against Wills.
“I felt amazing for this fight,” said Chapman, who learned the basics of mixed martial arts from former UFC fighter Jason MacDonald of Red Deer and currently fights out of Arashi-Do Red Deer.
“I always wanted to be a boxer, but then I saw that Jason MacDonald had a gym (Pure Fitness and MMA) here,” he noted. “I googled it, went up there and I haven’t looked back since.”
The Chapman-Wills match was the last of seven fights on the amateur card, preceding five professional bouts.
Red Deer fighters Ryan Machan and Advin Omic experienced mixed results in the co-main events of the pro card. Machan scored a TKO victory over William Sriyapai of Rancho Cucamongo, Calif., at 4:22 of the first round of their 170-pound match, and Omic lost to Ryan Dickson of Burlington, Ont., by rear naked choke at 3:38 of the second round of another 170-pound clash.
Machan admitted he had little knowledge of Sryapai entering the fight, except that his opponent excelled in another form of mixed martial arts.
“I just knew that he was a four-time world champion kick boxer and I wanted to prove that I’m ready for the next step, that I’m ready for the big show. So I was going out there to knock him out,” said Machan, who along with business partners Jesse Fox and Gary Vig, co-founded HFC last year. “I wanted to show that my skills are well-rounded enough that whatever someone is good at, I can beat them at their game.”
And so he went right after the California fighter, eventually ending the bout with a series of strikes and body kicks.
“I wanted to go out there and put the pressure on him because I knew my cardio would be better than his and I was going to outwork him the entire fight,” said Machan, who, like Chapman, is looking long-term.
“I’m aiming to take the next step and fight in the bigger shows . . . make it a living for me,” he insisted.
In the other pro fights, Jeff Larkin of Red Deer defeated Jason Gorny of Edmonton by verbal tapout — due to a knee injury — 41 seconds into the first round (185 pounds), Jemark Brady (2-0) of Red Deer defeated Vince Quesnel (0-1) by unanimous decision in a 165-pound fight and Austin Ryan (1-0) of Red Deer applied a decisive triangle choke on Robert Nelson (0-2) of Lethbridge at 2:33 of Round 1 of their 130-pound bout.
Earlier, on the amateur card, Red Deer heavyweight Chris Lafantaisie (1-0) won by TKO over Les Bisson (1-1) of Brandon at 51 seconds of the first round, and Red Deer’s Jason Pyper (2-1) lost to Donovan Hack of Cranbrook, who applied a decisive arm bar in the second round of the 170-pound match.
In addition, Andrew Kloot (4-0) of Calgary defeated Liam McGowen (2-1) of Calgary by split decision (155 pounds); Kellen Falt (1-2) of Red Deer won over Brett Alberts (0-2) of Surrey, B.C., by unanimous decision (155 pounds); Patrick Mitchell (2-0) of Edmonton defeated Jason Diep (0-1) of Red Deer with an arm triangle at 1:38 of the first round (135 pounds); and Stephen Forde (1-0) defeated Kent Soucey (0-1) of Red Deer by split decision (155 pounds).
Due to the length of at least three amateur fights, the entire card ran nearly four and a half hours but was well-received by the large turnout.
“Usually the amateur fights tend to end quickly because the fighters are more nervous,” said Machan. “They don’t have the experience so they just go out there and go crazy.
“But on this night every fight was so evenly-matched and there were three that went to the judges.”