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.