Jordan Cabrejos goes for the armbar as he grapples with William “Billiam” Cohen in training at Vernon’s Unity MMA Monday, Dec. 10. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

Jordan Cabrejos goes for the armbar as he grapples with William “Billiam” Cohen in training at Vernon’s Unity MMA Monday, Dec. 10. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

Vernon’s Unity MMA fighters show heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home W’s

Whether it’s in the way a hook is thrown or a grapple is executed, there’s beauty in the brutality.

That’s the perspective of Unity MMA phenom Rylie “Coyote” Marchand who, at only 17-years-old, took her first adult amateur bout by technical knock out in the first round against 27-year-old Taylor Pinchak in Rumble in the Cage 60 MMA fight night action in Lethbridge, Alta. No. 24.

“It’s more than just exercise; it’s more than just fighting and violence. I think all of the aspects of MMA are beautiful,” Marchand said. “You know, the striking, the jiu-jitsu especially is super fluent and just being able to put it all together is really fun for me.”

In her amateur debut, Marchand took Pinchak to the ground after confrontation on the cage. She ended the bout via ground and pound to earn a TKO with only 12 seconds left in the first round.

“Once I got the takedown and established a good position, I was just looking to stay on top,” Marchand said. “Over the last nine years, I’ve learned that you can be winning one moment and losing the next, so getting full mount was not a guaranteed victory in my mind. When the referee called the fight there were only 12 seconds left in the first so it very well could have gone another round or two.”

Related: Opponent no match for MMA phenom Marchand

Marchand said she feels her wrestling game is where she thrives.

“I feel that my wrestling has benefited me the most, especially in my last fight where I got tagged a couple times on the feet, I was able to go for the takedown and eliminate myself from that situation, reset, and take advantage of being on top,” she said. “On the other hand, I’ve had matches where I was winning on the striking side and used defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing.”

That wrestling prowess is thanks in part to her coach and MMA owner, Raja Kler.

“She did a great job of sticking to the game plan and dealing with her much bigger opponent. As for her training over the last year or so, to be honest, it was a little tough with her knees bothering her, which slowed her progress. But, since the summer, she has come back into full swing and seems more determined than ever to showcase her skills,” Kler said of Marchand. “We hope to have her fighting again early in the new year and collecting more Ws. I should add she is a pretty terrific little woman who I think is an inspiration to many of our students here and people in her community as well.”

Related: Marchand shows MMA moxy

After competing in wrestling and boxing, Kler got in the octagon and fell in love with the sport. In 2008, just before Marchand got her start, Kler officially opened Unity MMA and Kickboxing.

“I tried out an MMA class, got my but kicked, kind of cried on the way home, and then figured I should probably learn what they did to kick my butt, so I came back a month later,” Kler laughed.

Now, with about 60 students in everything from kids’ classes to intermediate students, Kler’s pupils are leaving their mark in the octagon.

Marchand’s primary training partner, Damon “Omen” Marlow, 19, is also fresh off his first W after his MMA debut in Chilliwack Nov. 30.

“I don’t know, I just love training. It’s lots of fun, good people here. I’ve always just loved watching it and I respect the fighters — they put in lots of hard work. I just figured I’d try it and loved it ever since,” said Marlow, who competed in other sports prior to starting MMA about two years ago.

“I have plans to keep going for some more amateur wins and keep getting more experience and eventually go pro.”

Kler said Marlow is one to watch in mixed martial arts.

“I’m very confident you will be hearing lots from him too. I know that at featherweight (145 pounds) he will be making some waves and collecting some W’s en route to getting the belt next year from one of the local MMA organizations,” Kler said of Marlow. “In his debut fight, he fought a more experienced fighter who has been training for six years and was able to pull out a unanimous decision against him and a real chess match.”

Unity’s competitive core is built around six fighters, including Marchand, Marlow, Jordan Cabrejos, William “Billiam” Cohen and Kenny Pope.

Related: Kler doubles MMA

“Basically, it’s just practice, it’s effort, it’s time put in. In the future here you’ll be seeing some more fights coming out of Rylie and Damon and we have some other guys that are coming up,” Kler said.

“I think all fighting sports, all combat sports relate to somebody in some way. It’s the spirit, it’s the drive to get better. It is very hard to be good at these sports. They are sports they’re also not sports — it’s in the middle. I think it’s just the personalities that do it and the hard work. I think people respect that. It’s to see who gets the bone. At the end of the day, who gets the bone.”

Marchand got her start in the sport at eight-years-old when her brother, then six-years-old, won a free month at the club.

“He didn’t want to go by himself so I decided to join him and then I fell in love with it. He quit a few years later and I didn’t,” Marchand shrugged.

“I’d really like to get back in there soon and keep building my record up — hopefully, make a career out of it someday.”

Despite Marchand and Marlow’s aspirations to octagon fame, Kler said Unity MMA isn’t reserved solely for top competitors. Both kids and beginner classes are available through the club.

“For us — especially when it comes to kickboxing, grappling, MMA — it’s all about just coming out, doing something that keeps you going. Nobody has to become professional, it’s not like that. I always think that for an exercise, I like to do something that doesn’t make me realize I’m doing an exercise. I have fun and then I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m sweaty.’ I think that’s what we can offer people too,” Kler said.

“Sky is the limit, right? You can always get a few more people, you can always have more competitors. To be honest, I really just enjoy teaching people and seeing them learn. And, from there, that’s basically my best enjoyment. I don’t need to have the biggest club. I want to have the closest club. That’s more important to me.”


@VernonNews
parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

North Westside residents can dispose of their unwanted bulky items between June 30 and July 14, 2021. (File photo)
North Westside residents can soon get rid of unwanted bulky items

Large household items can be disposed of at North Westside Transfer Station June 30 to July 14

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read