It was a rubber match of sorts with Vernon 14-year-old Rylie Marchand somewhat of an underdog versus 17-year-old Maria (The Babysitter) Demers of Vancouver.
Just off winning a recent bronze medal at a world grappling event in California, Demers lost to Marchand in a Gerry Gionco International February Fury card MMA tilt at the Fraserview Hall in Vancouver.
Marchand defeated Demers at 4:30 of the scheduled one, five-minute round exhibition with an Achlles Lock.
Maria and her 13-year-old sister are MMA stars, Maria has used the Can-Ams to continue a protracted run of medal-grabbing (six gold and three silver) that now includes gold in the Can-Am Advanced women’s Muay Thai division, and silver in men’s MMA.
The two previous matches took vastly different turns with Demmers finishing off Marchand in 10 seconds more than a year ago. Marchand levelled the score with an arm bar in round one.
“I won this time with a straight ankle-lock in the last 30 seconds of a five-minute round,” said Marchand, a Grade 9 student at Fulton. “I surprised myself getting her with an ankle lock.”
Marchand began MMA training at age eight under Raja Kler at Unity Martial Arts Centre in Vernon.
“I started going with my little brother Kobe and I liked it right away,” said Marchand. “It was a nice environment to be in with other kids and it was a fun way to exercise.
“It took me awhile to get good at it. A lot of the kids were bigger and older. After my first year, I went in a tournament (Can-Ams at the Richmond Olympic Oval) and won a couple of gold medals. That really got my confidence going.”
She trains six days a week after school and attends some higher-calibre Pacific Top Team sessions on occasion.
“I believe Raj has done a good job with me. I endeavour to go into a fight really calm, not gangforce. I’m really trustworthy with my techniques.”
Kler says Marchand is self-motivated and a breeze to coach.
“She does everything pretty well,” said Kler. “She’s got really good striking, especially for her age, and she has a good ground game. She mixes it all up well.”
Kler says the coach-athlete relationship is built on mutual respect.
“I’ve been coaching her since she was eight so I’m used to being around her; we’re like family.”
Marchand will fight in a Can-Am card May 13-15, in Richmond.
Kenny Pope of Unity won with a triangle choke 1:17 seconds into the first round of a welterweight scrap against Herbert Moon of Nanaimo at the Fraserview event.
Okanagan Garden Supplies sponsored travel expenses for Marchand and Pope. Unity was founded in 2005 by Raja Lee to provide high quality instruction in MMA, kickboxing and grappling.