October 26, 2006
Winnipeg will be a "Warzone" this Saturday night
The Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will host Ultimate Cage Wars "Warzone" this Saturday night, October 28th, the sixth installment of the Western Canadian MMA event. The card features competitors from several regions of the country and will also include several local fighters for the Winnipeg crowd to cheer. Three of the fighters, Alex Popov, Jason Geiger, and Lindsey Hawkes, train out of the Winnipeg Academy of MMA, which is headed up by local fighter and instructor Curtis Brigham. The school, which is mostly oriented towards training a fight team for competition, has been open now for three years.
"It’s a private club," says the 25-year-old head instructor Brigham. "I do run some classes but I don’t advertise the gym or anything, not everyone competes but it’s mostly for fighters and to help them get ready. I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 1997 and started competing in MMA in 1999, now I’ve got 18 fights total. I’ve wrestled a bit, done some boxing and received my black belt in BJJ about 1 year ago. Now I mostly just concentrate on training the fighters, I think my fighting career is behind me now, but you never know, if the right offer, the right place came along I might."
The UCW main event will feature Winnipeg Academy of MMA lightweight Alex Popov taking on TKO veteran Dave Parizeau. Popov will bring a combined pro-am record of 4-0 to the card Saturday night while Parizeau’s record stands at 4-2-1. According to Brigham, Popov, who is 21 years old, is dealing well with the attention and pressure that accompanies being in the main event.
"He’s pretty well rounded," says Brigham in offering his take on his fighter. "He soaks up pretty much everything you teach him. He moved here from Russia about five-six years ago, and started training with me three years ago; he pretty much started then from scratch but he’s a very fast learner. He’s really come along way and is becoming a great fighter; he’s a really calm and down to earth person. He’ll go in there and just do his thing."
Jason Geiger will also be representing the Academy when he takes on Lethbridge fighter Jordan Mein in another lightweight match up. Geiger’s pro-am record is 5-1 while Mein’s combined record is 4-3.
"Jason is a former pro wrestler," Brigham tells FCF. "When he first came to me he weighed around 230 pounds, he laughed when I said we would probably cut him down to 185. Now he’s fighting at 155, he never believed that would happen. He’s had some amateur fights but they were mostly against other pro wrestlers with no real MMA training, Jason had a little bit of MMA training before he started here so those fights weren’t really much competition for him. His biggest test so far was against Dan Severn in only his second pro fight, which was kind of a mismatch. He’s really come along way as well."
Lindsey Hawkes will also take to the cage for the Academy Saturday night, when he takes on Joshua Fletcher. Both fighters have only competed once so far in their MMA careers, winning their debut bouts.
"Lindsey has had some Muay Thai bouts and just 1 MMA fight," says Brigham. "He’s got a fairly strong striking background and I just recently gave him his Blue Belt in BJJ."
One of the more experienced fighters heading to Winnipeg will be Canadian Martial Arts Centre fighter Justin "Houdini" Tavernini, who will bring a combined pro-am record of 9-8 to face Grant Tennant. The veteran Tennant has also seen his fair share of action, and has a combined pro-am record of 11-9.
"He has the weight advantage on me," Tavernini says in evaluating his opponent. "I do not believe his skills standing or on the ground will be as good as mine. He is a gamer and does come ready to fight so I have to be ready. My game plan will obviously be to keep it standing, but if it does go to the ground I want to tap him out."
This will mark the 5th time Tavernini has fought for the UCW, who by now is rather familiar with the organization.
"The event is always great," says Tavernini before complimenting UCW promoter Krzysztof Soszynski. "There is always a good crowd and Krzysztof treats al the fighters awesome."
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