Skip to content

Mixed results for Vernon MMA fighters in Kamloops

Cole Smith won the first fight of his career, while Connor Manahan lost the amateur fetherweight title fight
Vernon MMA fighter Cole Smith was victorious in a bout against another Vernon fighter, Wes Liefke, at Mamba Fight League 12 in Kamloops on July 28, 2023. (Submitted photo)

Vernon was well represented at a mixed martial arts event in Kamloops late last month.

In an all-Vernon matchup, Unity MMA fighter Cole Smith took on Pacific Top Team’s Wes Liefke at Mamba Fight League 12 on July 28.

Smith won the fight by submitting Liefke with a rear naked choke in the second round. Smith now has a record of 1-1, while Liefke has a record of 0-1.

Raja Kler, Smith’s coach at Unity MMA in Vernon, said he was impressed by the second fight of Smith’s career against a black belt.

“He came out fast which is good, and he was a little excited so we had to kind of calm him down, but he did better halfway through the first (round) and then he relaxed,” Kler said.

“In the second round Wes came out really quickly to go for a takedown and (Smith) did a good job defending the takedown, and then he got on top and then basically worked his way to his back and then that was it.”

Kler said he and Smith were happy that Liefke agreed to the fight with only two weeks notice after a cancellation.

Meanwhile, Unity MMA’s Connor Manahan was competing for the amateur featherweight championship at 140 pounds versus Aso Palani. Manahan lost the five-round fight by unanimous decision.

“It was unfortunate … and another (fight) that changed with two weeks notice,” Kler said. “We went from going to fight a kickboxer to fighting a wrestler, but it was a good fight and (Manahan) managed to feel around at the end but unfortunately it was a little too late. But he did really well and I’m super proud of him.”

Kler said Manahan was in good spirits after the fight despite the loss, and he wants a rematch against Palani in the future, possibly as a professional fighter.

Smith and Manahan both expect to fight at Battlefield Fight League 78 in Vancouver on Oct. 19.

Unity MMA has had a solid stretch of action in recent weeks. At a Kelowna Absolutes Jiu Jitsu tournament two weeks ago, athletes from the Vernon gym earned eight gold medals, seven silver medals and three bronze medals.

“I guess you could say that July was a pretty crazy month for team Unity,” Kler said.

READ MORE: Vernon MMA fighters competing in Kamloops

READ MORE: Vernon MMA fighters emerge victorious in Vancouver

Brendan Shykora
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
Read more