A new realm of entertainment will be coming to Weyburn on April 13. Prestige Fights has joined forces with King George Hotel Fitzgerald's Pub and Grill for the first ever event of its kind in Weyburn. Featuring high-calibre Canadian fighters Mitch Carlson and Khalil Aziz in a ring at Crescent Point Place, "The Rising" will be a 'Vegas-style' fight event for all-ages.
Mixed martial arts, known as MMA, was made famous by a company called Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It has become so popular that it has surpassed the WWE (wrestling) for pay per view sales.
Along with his partner, fighter Derek Daku, Cord Crowthers of Regina created Prestige Fights in order to produce a higher quality show so that fighters, sponsors and fans can have an all-around better experience than what has previously been offered in Saskatchewan. Crowthers' entire family is involved in MMA and in fact, his wife is one of the top ranked fighters in the world.
Crowthers noted that there is plenty of amateur entertainment amid combative athletes in the province, which is fun and provides a good show. Prestige, however, is taking it to the next level.
"We're bringing in amateur guys, who are just about to go pro, from all over the world," said Crowthers. "We used to say from all over North America, but we just signed a gym from Brazil. It's one of the best gyms in the world, and for them to be bringing a team to Weyburn is unheard of - it's fantastic."
He noted that there will be teams from all over Canada and the U.S., both men and women with 12 or 13 fights on the card.
Weyburn fighters Clint Mohan and Dean Hodgkins will be in the ring that night as well.
"Three of the camps that are coming in are owned by major UFC stars," he noted. "They're not fighting, but their fighters are fighting."
Canadian UFC fighters Jesse Bongfeldt and Claude Patrick will be bringing fighters to the event, as will top boxing and MMA trainer, UFC fighter Ron Frazier from Las Vegas.
Frazier will be giving a seminar at Olympia Fitness on April 11 at 8:30 p.m. and Claude Patrick will speak on April 13 at 1:00 p.m.
A weigh-in event will take place at Fitzgerald's on April 12 at 5:30 p.m.
On fight night, the doors open at 6:00 and the fights start at 7:00 p.m. Crowthers said that if every fight goes the distance, they'd be 'mopping up' by 11:00 p.m.
"Four hours of great entertainment at $40 a ticket and $20 for kids under 16," said Crowthers of the big event. He noted that V.I.P. tables of eight are $750 for businesses, which includes a fully-serviced prime rib dinner.
Crowthers mentioned that local businesses have an opportunity to buy tickets to give to any kids of their choice in the community.
"We like to get the kids at the show," he said. "These are the kids that are training or they want to get into the sport. They might be into karate now and they could be fighting for us in five or ten years from now."
Tickets are available through the Weyburn Red Wings, Fitzgerald's Pub & Grill and Olympia Fitness.
"We are really proud that we have partnered with the Red Wings," said Crowthers, noting that the team gets one hundred per cent of the bar profits and of the 50/50 draw, as well as $5 for every ticket sold. "That is in the neighbourhood of $40,000 to $50,000."
In exchange, the Red Wings provide all of the volunteers for the event, sharing the funds raised with other sports teams that will also supply volunteers. Prestige has made local youth sports a priority. 'Weyburn MMA', which is the Weyburn Mixed Martial Arts Kickboxing and Karate Centre, will receive seven per cent of all sponsorship sold at the show.
"It's a great thing for us," said Weyburn MMA coach Dean Hodgkins. "We're actually looking at a new facility here soon. More equipment, more matting. It's really going to help the kids out when it comes to competition."
Weyburn MMA meets on Monday and Thursday evenings at Knox Hall. Kids' classes run from 6:00 to 7:30 and the adult classes are from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. The first class is free.
"We also have an open-mat setup on Saturday mornings from 10:00 until noon," said Hodgkins. "You can do some sparring and work on your form."
Whether one is interested in fighting as an activity or only as a spectator sport, this event of a rising sport is sure to please audiences of all ages.