The Mach 1 Fighting Championships this Saturday at the Capri Centre does not have a main event yet.
Not because a fighter has dropped out but because there will be four kickboxers competing in prelim fights for the honour of fighting in the main event.
While most fight cards involve fighters competing in single bouts the Mach 1 card is using the K-1 grand prix format to match-up some of the top women Muay Thai fighters in Alberta.
“Watching K-1 they do grand prix events and those are some of the most exciting events you can watch, and the women’s fights are also very entertaining. So I thought I would put the two together in a tournament format,” said Arashi-do Sensei and promoter Gary Vig. “I think it will be a lot more exciting for the crowd because there is a story. There is a drama that unfolds.”
Stephanie Essensa, 9-1, will representing her hometown of Red Deer and will fight Calgary’s Veronica Hamzeh, 6-2 in the first match. The second prelim to determine the main event will pit Edmonton’s Vienna Malko-Monterrossa, 6-0, against Calgary’s Melissa Reaume, 4-8.
“We have Red Deer’s Stephanie Essensa who is a two time national champion and Vienna Malko-Monterrossa who is coming down in weight and is an undefeated. She is tough and is a really good puncher,” said Vig of the 122-pound women’s tourney. “We also have Melissa Reaume, who is tough as nails and well seasoned and Veronica Hamzeh, who has trained in Thailand extensively and has eight fights there. We actually have four really, really good fighters. I could see any of the four fighters winning it.”
For Essensa it will be her first opportunity to show off what she learned when she finished in the top eight at the Kings Cup — the Muay Thai world championships — in December and she knows she has a very tough first opponent in Hamzeh.
“I have seen she really favours kicking and is very Thai style, and she has good clinch,” said Essensa of Hamzeh. “I want to win that Mach 1 belt. I am looking forward to see how that (King’s Cup) experience affects me in ring at home again. I learnt that I need to work on kick defence, which I have extensively, aggressiveness in the ring and mixing things together more. I have a couple new techniques I’m going to be using in the fights that I haven’t used before.”
The co-main event of the nine bout fight card will pit Red Deer’s Sean Enright, 8-2, against Calgary’s John Hamm, 20-11 in a five round junior-middleweight bout.
“I’ve wanted to see this fight for a couple of years,” said Vig. “To be able to do it on my own fight card is awesome. Both kickboxers are action fighters. I am so excited.”
In another junior-middleweight bout Red Deer’s Will Quijada will be taking on mixed martial artist Brent Harvey, also of Red Deer.
Vig is looking forward to some very competitive bouts at the tournament.
“We are really excited. We have some very good fighters, coming from some great camps, culminating with the women’s tournament.”
Tickets for the fightcard are $30 and are available at Red Deer Arashi-do, 5233, 54 Ave., or at the Capri Centre doors, April 23, the night of the fightcard. Doors open at 6 p.m. with fights starting at 7 p.m. For more information call (403) 350-3842.