Matt (The Riot Maker) Baker had a fight on his hands even before he stepped in the cage for Battlefield Fight League 10: War, Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.
To prepare for his bout, Baker, a member of Langley’s Revolution Fight Team, travelled to Rio de Janeiro to train with Team Nogueira, headed by legendary mixed martial arts (MMA) twin brothers Antonio Rogerio and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. On his way home, he was waylaid in Argentina, which put a wrinkle, or rather a roll, in his fight plan.
“I gained water and I was 219 pounds when I landed (Monday). That was the hardest cut of my life, I didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Baker, who needed to cut 14 pounds in four days for his light heavyweight bout with Marcus Vinicios, a Vancouver-based Capoeira expert.
“It was a huge test if I wanted to be a true MMA fighter.”
Baker, 27, persevered in the main event, arguably losing the first round before taking a back mount on Vinicios (5-6) and submitting the Capoeira fighter with a rear naked choke at 3:26 in the second round to improve to 7-2.
The two combatants refused to touch gloves before the bout, and Vinicios gave referee Jason Darrah a slight shove when Darrah tried to separate the two as he gave the fighters’ instructions at the centre of the ring.
“That’s my biggest win in this sport so far. I just started with a new fight team, Team Nogueira. I trained for multiple attacks, what I was going to come out with each round. In the second round I came out with the kicks to switch it up,” said Baker, who sparred Capoeira fighters in Brazil to get accustomed to the high-flying, unorthodox fighting style.
Vinicios’ brother, Marcus Aurelio, showcased Capoeira to perfection, unleashing flying switch kick to the head to earn a first-round knockout of Valemount’s Jose Cornejo in the first of seven pro fights, sanctioned by the Vernon Athletic Commission.
In the co-main event, Matt Dwyer (1-0) of Kelowna’s Toshido MMA made an impression in his pro debut by finishing Spokane’s Levi Alford (0-3) in just 41 seconds.
The 6-foot-4 scrapper connected with a hard right, followed by a devastating left knee to KO his equally lanky opponent.
In other pro action, Mike Hill (3-0) of Toshido used some ground-and-pound to earn a referee stoppage over 41-year-old Kamloops native Nolan Clark (4-10) late in the first round; Kamloops’ Chad Belwood submitted Vancouver’s Dave Logan by rear naked choke at 1:44 of the first round; Toshido’s Correy Tossof (2-0) won a split decision for three rounds of continual, yet unsuccessful, takedown attempts of Comox’s Nathan Swayze (1-2); and Bill Fraser (3-4) of Comox submitted Revolution’s Darwin Douglas (3-4) with a rear naked choke late in the second round.
In amateur action, Canoe’s Ryan (Rhino) Allen, a Brazilian jiu jistu (BJJ) specialist who trains under Mario Deveault at Gracie Barra Vernon, ignited the 1,200 fans with his verbal submission win over stand-in Bret Deacon of South Island BJJ.
Deacon, who stepped in for the light heavyweight bout on just two days notice after Allen’s original opponent, Seattle’s Hunter Orgill, backed out, surprised the Shuswap fighter with some crafty cage reversals in the first round.
“We don’t train with a cage and he kept hooking his toes and kept flipping over. I reversed each time he did that,” said Allen, who ended the first round with a flurry shots from top control.
In the second round, Allen, 28, caught Deacon coming in with a slick uppercut, and then suplexed his opponent before earning the stoppage by raining down blows from top position.
“You could feel him, not quite quitting, but the momentum after that slam, it left his body and he was easier to pass,” said Allen, who improved to 2-0 and was awarded his BJJ purple belt from Deveault after the fight.
“He came out and threw it on the line, so I’ve got to thank him.”
Allen, recently married to wife Collette, had to trim 30 pounds in six weeks to make weight.
“I gotta try to not get so fat in between fights,” laughed Allen, who operates a construction company in the Shuswap.
“My first fight was over pretty quick so I was trying to get the breathing right. I wasn’t gassed, but I was breathing pretty heavy after the first round.”
He credited Deveault, Gary Armbrust, Dave Rothwell and Chad Polson for getting him in shape.
“Every day he (Polson) was letting me punch him in the face, so it was good training. We also have amazing grappling partners we work with.”
In other amateur action, Kamloops’ Kyle Francotti (1-0) used a 30-pound weight advantage to overwhelm Kolton Higginbottom (0-1) in a heavyweight bout, and Kamloops’ Mark Delgado (1-4) put on a slamming clinic before earning his first MMA win with a sweet Kimura submission on Chris Rock in a Bantam weight (135-pound) bout.