TKO Founder and Instinct MMA’s Stephane Patry Says Competition “Almost Killed” Sport in Quebec
By Kelsey Mowatt
Long before mixed-martial-arts was sanctioned in the Province of Ontario, or before the Ultimate Fighting Championship held regular events in Canada, the Quebec based TKO was one of North America’s leading MMA promotions. Not only was TKO the promotional vehicle that Canadian stars like Sam Stout, Mark Hominick, and Georges St. Pierre, amongst others, utilized to establish their credentials, the promotion set new standards throughout the Canadian industry by securing various television deals and by hosting events in Montreal’s premier facility, The Bell Centre. Then, in a surprising series of events, one of the promotion’s founders and its President Stephane Patry resigned in October, 2008, and TKO closed shop soon after. Just like that, one of Canada’s biggest and most influential promotions was gone.
Now, after a well documented and failed attempt at promoting a striking based, modified version of the sport, and having recovered from a battle with skin cancer, Patry is making his return to the industry through Instinct MMA. Although it’s only been three years since Patry stepped away from the Quebec MMA scene and the last TKO event, the outspoken promoter argues that considerable damage has been done to the sport throughout the Province.
“When I decided to come back, I was disgusted with how the market was,” Patry told FCF. “The guys that came after TKO, they almost killed MMA here. 800 people at shows, poor production levels, poor matchmaking, the list goes on and on. I hate to talk bad about people, but they had a market where I was bringing in 9,000 people. What have they done to keep 8,000 people away from their events? That’s the reality.”
Debate over whether other Quebec based promotions have damaged the sports profile aside, Patry’s latest venture will host its first event on October 7th, just three weeks prior to Ringside MMA’s “Daley vs. Fioravanti” card at the Bell Centre.
“I think I have a dream team with my new partner, George,” said Patry, while discussing Instinct and his new partner, Quebec businessman George Papamikidis. “Now we’re ready to bring Instinct to an international level. It’s not just about being successful in Montreal, or successful in Canada, we know we can do that, we want to be successful internationally. We want to be an alternative to other major promotions.”
“This first show is going to be live from coast-to-coast in Canada on pay-per-view,” Patry added about Instinct’s upcoming October 7th event, which will take place in Boisbriand, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal. “Hopefully by show number two we will be live in the U.S. Yes, there is a big hole, but we’re coming back to basically take back our spot as the number one guy here. Our vision is a global vision, we obviously can’t say we’re going to be the UFC…but I do believe with the UFC buying Strikeforce there is a huge opportunity for us to be the new alternative.”
Although Patry has a far reaching vision for Instinct MMA, the promotion’s inaugural card features several notable Quebec fighters, who will take on UFC or established MMA vets. In the headliner, ex-professional hockey player Steve Bosse will square off with former Octagon competitor, Houston Alexander.
“Steve is 8-1 now and I think he’s very, very, close to receiving the international recognition he deserves,” Patry noted about Bosse, who was a popular ‘enforcer’ in minor-pro hockey that after transitioning into MMA via TKO, has scored wins over Marvin Eastman and most recently Mychal Clark. “But I’m not bringing in Houston Alexander to lose against Steve, I’m bringing in Houston because I want to give fans the best fights in the world….if you’re looking at a fight that can be a super fight, Bosse versus Alexander is a great fight for Instinct and it would be a great fight for the UFC.”
“Back when I was doing TKO everyone in town knew who Steve Bosse was,” Patry added. “He was more popular than world boxing champions we have in town. We were doing big promotional events and everyone was going to see Bosse…he was a big name but now I come back into this game and not as many people know him anymore. That’s pathetic and it’s bad for Steve….I’ve come back and after just a couple of weeks I already have 3,200 tickets sold.”
Patry has also enlisted the services of Patrick Cote, who unquestionably is one of the Province’s biggest drawing names not currently signed to the UFC. The former middleweight contender will take on another UFC vet in Crafton Wallace.
“Back in the day I wanted to get Crafton Wallace, but it didn’t happen, and then Patrick got a call from the UFC to fight,” said Patry. “Crafton Wallace is a very high level striker, and we’re in the position right now with Patrick where he wants to go back to the UFC very badly. He’s won two fights in a row by unanimous decision but he’s been told by the UFC that he needs to start knocking people out…He needs to be the Patrick Cote that he was back then when they first took him.”
Some of the other main card bouts scheduled for Instinct’s first event include veteran heavyweight Eric “Butterbean” Esch versus 5-0 pro boxer Eric Barrak and TKO vet Martin Grandmont versus former Shooto Lithuania competitor Sergej Juskevic.