Canadian MMA promotion The Fight Club will host TFC 12: Devastation in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on December 10, featuring a light heavyweight bout between former UFC fighter Victor Valimaki (16-7) against Karl Knothe (17-6) and a middleweight title fight between Nick Hinchcliffe (17-6) and Chad Cox (5-2).
ProMMAnow.com recently spoke with TFC Promoter Mark Sinclair to the promotion and how he became involved in MMA. A number of top fighters and up-and-comers have fought for the organization, including UFC fighter Claude Patrick, Valimaki, and The Ultimate Fighter 13 hopeful Ryan McGillivray.
Canada is one of the true hotbeds for the sport, and Sinclair also discussed other TFC competitors that fans should keep an eye out for. Below is an abbreviated transcript of the discussion.
ProMMAnow.com: Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. First off, talk about how you got into the business of MMA promotion.
Mark Sinclair: We’ve got a sister company, KO Boxing Promotions, and we’ve been promoting boxing events for over 20 years. We also do closed-circuit television pay-per-views and we’re actually an agent for the UFC in Western Canada. So we saw the rise of MMA firsthand and decided to move into the sport.
ProMMAnow.com: Since you mentioned boxing promotions, obviously that sport has had its issues. People like Dana White and a lot of boxing fans, and I’d include myself here, have been critical of the politics of boxing and the difficult to put together the big fights people want to see. If you wouldn’t mind, what’s your take on the current state of boxing and what lessons have you learned, good or bad, that carry over into the MMA business?
Mark Sinclair: The current state of boxing isn’t great. They’ve lost a lot of the marquee guys. But from our standpoint, we’re on more of a regional level, and the boxing business here in Edmonton is still pretty strong.
Now, if you look at the UFC model, that has flaws too. They’re very influential and they can manipulate the media to put together the match-ups they want. I don’t think you’ll ever see this, but it would be great if the UFC didn’t have such a stranglehold on the entire sport, if we could have co-promotion and have UFC fighters, Strikeforce fighters, and guys from other top leagues face each other.
But, you know, even the local promoters here in Edmonton try to hoard all the fighters they can. It’s just the way the business model is, focusing on moving up the fighters in your own promotion.
ProMMAnow.com: Now looking at your promotion specifically, you’ve had some successful local and international-level guys come through, like Claude Patrick, Victor Valimaki, and Ryan McGillivray — who we interviewed after he tried out for TUF. How have things changed since you first started?
Mark Sinclair: It’s a big difference looking at where we are now from where we first started. We’ve had Claude, Ryan Ford, Victor, and some of the top Canadian mixed martial artists compete here, and our shows are now televised on a delayed basis on The Fight Network. We also just did our first Canadian Pay Per View, and that’s where I think we can get bigger, bringing in more international fighters and maybe having a North American pay-per-view.
ProMMAnow.com: We’ve also interviewed Victor, and he’d been on quite a roll until his last two fights against Martin Desilets. A lot of people in the U.S. might not’ve heard of him, but he has some good wins (Krzysztof Soszynski and Todd Gouwenberg). What can you tell me about him?
Mark Sinclair: Yeah, he’s a really good fighter and he’s beaten some tough guys. We’re going to get him some international talent or some good America opponents to fight. What really stands out about him, he has very strong stand-up. (Author’s note: Desilets has 8 wins via KO or TKO).
ProMMAnow.com: What other talented guys do you have on your roster that maybe people haven’t heard of yet but you think could make a big splash?
Mark Sinclair: Our Canadian lightweight champion, Mitch Clarke. He’s 8-0 right now and I don’t think there’s anyone on the Canadian scene he can’t beat. In February, we’re looking to bring in a U.S. fighter to test him.
Also, there’s Rio Wells, a welterweight and a former pro football player from the Canadian Football League. He’s only 4-0, but he’s been pretty dominant so far in all of his matches. He’s good in the striking department, but he’s also been improving a lot on his ground game.
(Author’s note: Wells is fighting Louis Carles (7-2) at TFC 12).
For more information on TFC, go to http://www.thefightclub.ca/