Jordan Cabrejos lives so close to the Vernon Curling Club he was able to race home to retrieve a pair of fighting shorts for a fellow Unity Mixed Martial Arts club member prior to the fighter’s bout getting started.
Cabrejos, who lives about a two-minute drive or 10-minute walk from the curling club, raced home at 7:30 p.m., ate some eggs and waffles, got the shorts (a teammate originally had shorts with pockets, a mixed martial arts no-no), returned to the curling club in 15 minutes and then began to prepare for his XFC Middleweight Championship bout against Calgary 101 Academy fighter Will Grieves.
The bout, in front of Cabrejos’ girlfriend, family and friends, and a partisan hometown crowd of several hundred on hand for XFC Unbanned, was still nearly five hours away, the second of three main events as mixed martial arts made its successful return to Vernon following a near-decade-long hiatus.
Cabrejos didn’t disappoint.
In a bout that started at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, he scored takedowns of Grieves in the first three rounds, landing body punch after body punch. When Grieves didn’t answer the bell for the fourth of the scheduled five rounds, Cabrejos was the new XFC Middleweight champ, improving his record to 3-1-1. Grieves dropped to 2-4.
“This is amazing, a dream come true,” said a beaming Cabrejos in the ring to announcer Kevin Rothwell, with loud cheers thundering down from the crowd. “To do this so close to my home, with my girlfriend, family and all these guys in the crowd, it’s awesome.”
Cabrejos was one of six Unity fighters taking part in the 14-card fight.
The five-round main event, which started at 12:43 a.m., saw Vernon’s Kenny Pope take on Dylan Schellenberg of CMAC in Lethbridge.
After waiting more than five hours for their match, Schellenberg made short work of Pope, grabbing the Vernon fighter in a neckhold ‘guillotine’ submission, forcing a tap-out just 28 seconds after the start to claim the XFC Welterweight championship belt.
“Honestly, I expected it to go longer,” said Schellenberg, who improve to 3-4 with the win. “But the way he shot put his head right in my arm and I just started squeezing. Ideally, I wanted to keep him standing, knowing he’s more of a grappler on the ground, and with those long limbs I wanted to stay away from those. In the end, 28 seconds, it worked out for me.”
Pope dropped to 4-6 overall.
Braiden Jacobi of Unity, in his MMA debut, scored a disqualification win over Abdulla ElHefnawy of Vancouver’s Tristar club. ElHefnawy was DQed for an illegal hit to Jacobi on the ground.
Raphael Quolett of Powell River Brazilian Jiu Jitsu scored a controversial three-round split decision over Unity’s Damon Marlow, who suffered his first loss (2-1). Rothwell’s announcement of the decision brought a chorus of loud boos from the partisan crowd, many of whom thought Marlow was the deserved victor of the 155-pound class bout.
In a 150-pound match, Nick Leblac improved to 4-1 with a second-round chokehold submission win over Unity’s Cameron Lane (2-2).
Nick Matthews from Calgary Champions Creed club won a unanimous three-round decision over Angus Franks of Unity. Both fighters were making their MMA debuts at 155 pounds.
The other main event match, for the XFC Featherweight title, saw Usman Khattak of Calgary’s Dynamic Club hand Edmonton’s Solomon Coachoreille his first loss (5-1) with a five-round unanimous decision.
Kelowna’s Jackie McLean of Toshido Mixed Martial Arts, making her MMA debut, scored a three-round unanimous decision over Grande Prairie Champions club member Amanda Rogers in the card’s lone women’s bout.
The card attracted clubs and fighters from Vernon, Kelowna, Calgary, Lethbridge, Vancouver, Powell River, Grande Prairie, Coquitlam, and Winnipeg.
Promoter Saverio Loria of Loria Entertainment Group thanked the crowd for a successful return of the sport to the North Okanagan.
“Thank you all very much for coming,” said Loria. “We will assess this one (event) and hopefully do another one in the spring.”