Thrilling victories by Pride Gym fighters more than made up for devastating set-backs, as AM Ford Fight Night “Demolition” delivered an evening of punishing blows and exciting matches.
It was a night highlighted by Trail’s Morgan-River Jones’ victory over Jade DeHaas and Jordan Knippelberg’s epic battle with a tough Brandon MacArthur.
Jones retained her bantamweight title with a late fourth-round TKO over the lanky Texan. After a slow start, Jones worked DeHaas hard in the corner, tying her up and controlling the match more and more as it wore on.
“I felt she was getting tired, and my cardio is fantastic, it’s the best shape I’ve ever been in,” said Jones following the match.
With just over a minute left in round four, Jones took a fatigued DeHaas to the ground, maneouvered into a full-mount position and let the fists fly.
“I tend to be too cerebral in my fights so you know, I went back to the drawing board and came back (hard).”
DeHaas started strong, using her superior reach in landing several hard shots and throwing Jones to the mat early in the first round.
But Jones wasn’t too concerned about the initial outburst, as she came out in the third with solid strikes followed by a take down.
“I try not to over think what goes on in there, I try to do what my coaches tell me,” said the world number-three ranked amateur fighter.
With the crowd chanting her name, Jones continued to clinch, grinding DeHaas with knees and elbows and wearing her down until the TKO in the fourth.
The Knippelberg-MacArthur war was undoubtedly the fight of the night. The two combatants slugged it out, trading intense and brutal exchanges before the Pride Gym fighter scored a TKO at 2:31 of round three.
Knippelberg refused to be drawn into a ground game against the stocky Fernie fighter until late in the third when he took advantage of an opening, executed the crucifix, and pounded away at MacArthur until the referee stopped the bout.
“He is tough as hell, man,” said Knippelberg after the match. “I hit him when he was on the ground really hard, and he just kept on coming. I knew it was going to be a tough fight.”
MacArthur floored Knippelberg early in the first with a spinning elbow that caught the Pride fighter square on the chin. But Knippelberg responded with a butterfly guard, and was able to defend himself and hold off the attack.
“That one really took me out,” he said. “But that (stuff) happens, you get rocked and you just keep on going.”
Knippelberg kept the aggressive fighter at bay with great footwork and counter punches until he saw his opening.
“He tried to take me down, and I reversed his take down, and got his arm between my legs and the other one under this arm and just started hammering him.”
In the main event, the lightweight title was on the line as Pride Gym’s Brad Causey faced Ontario’s Jesse Ronson, in a much-anticipated battle between two top fighters.
Ronson, however, would catch Causey early, dropping him with a quick right hand seconds into the bout. Causey fought back aggressively, landing several hard shots of his own and scoring a take down midway through the round.
But the southpaw was too much as he continued to land combinations, and with just six seconds left in the first, Ronson caught Causey with a vicious uppercut that put the Pride fighter down for good.
After the tilt, Ronson said his strategy going into the fight was simple.
“Pressure,” he said. “Move him backwards, I heard he (Causey) hits like a truck, which he does – he’s hit me harder than anybody’s ever hit me in my life. I’ve had 40 amateur fights, this is my 11th pro MMA . . . he’s hit me harder than anything.”
Ronson’s next fight is in June in the Score Fighting Series.
In other battles, Stephan Fricta of Chilliwack retained the middleweight title after two wicked knees finished Jason Gorny of Calgary at the 1:42 mark of the first round.
In an immensely entertaining and intense Muay Thai kickboxing bout, Pride’s Landon Gigure won a unanimous decision over Justin Boardman of Kelowna.
Pride’s John Forry lost his first bout to Andrew Kloot. Forry took Kloot down, but the Calgary native countered with a triangle choke that forced the Trail fighter to tap out.
Lethbridge’s Wyatt Lake surprised Pride’s David Felton at 1:55 of the first round, choking him out with the guillotine after Felton looked to dominate.
Cranbrook’s Sheldon Doll was as good as ever, making short work of Chilliwack’s Darwin Douglas, with a rear naked choke hold at 2:04 of the first.
Penticton’s Mark Dobie also won over Nelson’s Jason Warshawsky with a TKO early in the first, and Kamryn Winter knocked out Nelson’s James Sullivan eight seconds into the opening round.