Jessie Vandervelden was a one-man wrecking crew Saturday night in Winter Warfare 5 at the Westerner Agricentre.
Vandervelden, in only his third amateur kickboxing bout, looked more like a 10-fight veteran as he stopped Chris Fair of Calgary at 1:21 of the first round.
“I knew this was going to be my toughest fight coming in. He had five fights and he comes from a very tough gym in Calgary,” said the Cheney kickboxer. “But I was well prepared and trained very hard.”
Vandervelden, 3-0, opened the first round with extremely fast hands and knees. Thirty seconds into the round he stunned Fair, 3-3, with a right roundhouse kick to the head. He followed that up with two left-rights, and then capped the combination with a spinning back kick to the head. Fair retreated to his corner and Vandervelden followed up with a flurry of punches and a knee to the body that left the Calgary fighter bent over, forcing the referee to stop the welterweight bout.
“I have always had really high kicks,” said the host fighter. “I have a karate background and that has really helped my kicks. I am ready to take the next step.”
In the main event, Red Deer’s Stephanie Schmale lost the first round, but made an excellent adjustment between rounds, forcing the counter-punching Annie Lockhart of Regina to come forward, and then countering her with quick combinations and leg kicks to win the second round. The Cheney kickboxer continued to employ the strategy in the third and fourth rounds to take a commanding lead in the bout. Lockhart came on hard in the fifth round looking for the knockout, but Schmale, 5-2, stayed with her to win the Western Canadian women’s lightweight title.
Sylvan Lake’s Jennifer Wiebe, 2-0, and Nicci Soutiere, 2-2, of Calgary, engaged an extremely tough competitive junior welterweight bout. The two fighters evenly exchanged knees and punches for three rounds. The difference in the fight was the Arashi-do fighter’s headkicks, as Wiebe eked out the unanimous decision victory.
Cheney Karate’s Todd Gleason made the most of his first foray into the ring by scoring a unanimous decision win over Mitchell Steinke of Edmonton in a 195-pound bout. In the first minute of the bout, Gleason, 23, battled nerves more than his opponent, but once he warmed up he was able to control the bout with jabs and vicious knees to the body.
“My knees were hitting him pretty hard,” said Gleason. “I wanted to hit as hard as I could and as many times as I could. I was really hoping he would go down.”
In the second round, the Red Deer kickboxer was able to mix in one-twos and straight rights to maintain his domination. He punctuated the round with a ghost punch right before the bell. The third round was more of an even battle, but Gleason, 1-0, was able to pull out the round and pitch the shutout by landing two left-rights in a row to drive Steinke into the corner just before the bell.
“I was a little bit nervous at first, but I feel good, I won,” said Gleason. “The jab was good, I’ve got long limbs. The ghost punched worked. Coach (Lyle Cheney) was screaming for it so I just kept listening to the corner.”
In the second fight of the evening, Red Deer’s Josh Krump of Black Dragon Martial Arts used effective aggression to negate Edmontonian Simon Chalk’s height and reach advantage en route to a unanimous decision victory. Krump, 2-1, was able to get inside the reach of his opponent by dominating the first round with leg kicks and hooks. In the second round he continued to land effective kicks, dropping Edmonton’s Chalk, 0-1, with a right leg kick.
Luis Hernandez of Seven Stars Preying Mantis was able to outmuscle and outwork Talon Zurfluh, posting a unanimous decision win over the Cheney kickboxer in a battle of Red Deer. Hernandez opened aggressively, landing one-twos and throwing his opponent to the canvas. In the second round he continued the onslaught, adding in straight lefts and overhand rights. In the third round both fighters were tired, but Hernandez, 1-0, was able to rock Zurfluh, 0-1, with an overhand right at the end of round.
In other action involving Red Deer fighters, Ron Low of Seven Stars was dropped by a straight right and counted out 30 seconds into the first round, giving Jimmy Martinez of Winnipeg the victory.
Doug Rowe is a Red Deer freelance writer