You can visit UFC Fight Pass and watch Gary (Golden Boy) Armbrust’s 64-second submission victory over Jeromie Sills of Toronto for the Universal Combat Challenge light heavyweight strap in May, 2001.
Armbrust was 29 and figures he earned a few thousand dollars for the scrap. He racked up a 10-0 record as a pro MMA fighter but hated the unsavoury side of the MMA scene. He soon left the sport and got into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
At 46, he struck silver at the IBJJF World Masters Jiu-Jitsu Championships last Friday in Las Vegas, where ironically, he soaked in some of the boxer vs MMA hype surrounding Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.
Armbrust submitted three opponents in under 16 seconds apiece before falling to four-time world champion Carlos Terrinha of Brazil via a choke hold in the Masters 4 middle heavy black belt final.
“There were 40 seconds left (in the one five-minute round) with no points and I made a mistake and I got caught and I lost,” said Armbrust, a father of two and counsellor with the Kindale day program. “No excuses. I was 100 per cent. I was fired up. I was ignorant. I was ready to go.”
Armbrust, who received his black belt from Vernon’s Mario Deveault in 2012, defeated some past world medalists in the preliminaries at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.
“Jiu-jitsu is a beautiful sport; it’s so clean. I submitted three blacks belts in less than a minute and one was (third-degree black belt) Brian Ford. I just wanted to chase worlds at black belt and I had never medalled ast worlds (fifth try) so this medal is pretty special. My kids love it.”
Armbrust started training as a boxer at age 12 before joining the Regina Boxing Club at 16, and can list Canadian light heavyweight mixed martial arts title holder and Saskatchewan provincial boxing champ among his credentials. His daughters, Livia, eight, and Georgia, five, are training at the Pacific Top Team in downtown Vernon.
Armbrust showered after his gold-medal fight and then went to cheer on Pacific Top Team head instructor Dave (Supa) Rothwell, who won gold in the Masters 4 superheavyweight black belt division.
Rothwell, 46, of Salmon Arm, has been training in jiu-jitsu for 20 years and has long battled serious shoulder injuries. He took gold by a single advantage with only seconds to spare.
Said Armbrust: “I went up to Dave and said, ‘You’re a world champion’ and he spits out his mouthguard and said, ‘My shoulder is killing me.’ He’s the best.”
Rothwell, who was awarded his black belt in 2007 in California, was an unknown in Vegas.
“That was the first time I competed in worlds and I had one match since 2011 so everybody was wondering who I was,” he chuckled. “My shoulder feels good; I’m going to start physio.”
Rothwell stopped the 2016 silver medalist Jaime Jara of California in the final by two advantages to zero with 25 seconds remaining.
He is high on Armbrust’s style.
“Gary is so technical. He has the best guard in B.C.. He’s amazing.”
Christine Ahola of Enderby, who also trains under Rothwell, made her tournament debut at the brown belt level and garnered a bronze medal in Master 3 heavyweight.
”Not many women compete once they find Jui-Jitsu but I have found I love the challenge that competing brings me,” said Ahola.