Montreal – Rising Star’s return Saturday was reminiscent of the WEC, with all but one of its eight bouts in the light, feather, and bantamweight divisions. Focused on fighters with five or less pro bouts, the promotion had its first event at the more compact Club Soda last January. Though the approximately 450-500 fans that showed up for Rising Star 2 seemed to enjoy the fast-paced action, the new setting at the larger Metropolis venue diffused some of the dispersed crowd’s energy.
In the evening’s main event, Toronto’s Steve Simms (2-0) forced Quebec crowd-favourite Yohan Gariépy (2-3) to tap in just under three minutes to a rear-naked choke. A former FILA grappling champion, Simms put his experience to work, controlling Gariépy before landing a massive takedown that allowed him to take his back for the submission.
“It was pretty easy,” said Simms after the lightweight fight. “He more or less gave me the choke.” The 27 year-old Tap Star fighter has been training and recovering from injuries since his only other fight two years ago.
Knowing a shot at Ringside‘s vacant bantamweight (135 lbs) title was on the line, Stéphane Pelletier (4-1) stepped up in the co-main event, submitting Michael Pellerin (1-3) with an arm-bar in at the 1:44 mark of the 1st round.
With 80 supporters from Val d’Or painting the crowd red with Team Pelletier shirts, the fighter received the biggest pop of the night. “I felt like I couldn’t lose,” said Pelletier of fighting in front of his fans. He’ll compete for the title at Ringside 11 in Quebec city this June.
The evening’s most competitive fight, a back and forth mostly stand-up battle between David Lafond (1-1) and Samuel Charbonneau (1-1), came to an end with a Lafond 3rd round triangle choke. Though Charbonneau came out aggressively with repeated punch-kick combos in the 1st round, Lafond began to turn the tide in the 2nd, repeatedly landing jabs that left Charbonneau’s nose bleeding. After the action moved to the ground in the 3rd, Lafond was able to sink in a triangle at the round’s 3-minute mark.
Speaking to an appreciative crowd after the fight, Lafond sent out a plea to the province’s athletic commission to allow his coach Eric O’Keefe to be re-licensed.
In a featherweight bout, Mustafa Khalil (3-1) took a unanimous 29-28 decision victory, handing 18 year-old Team Legion fighter Tommy Côté (2-1) his first professional loss. After two rounds dominated by stand-up, both fighters were visibly tired as the final round began. Khalil managed to break the deadlock in the 3rd, taking the fight to the ground and maintaining control of Côté for a majority of the round.
Erik Dumaine (2-2) was injured 18 seconds into his fight against newcomer Sajid Rizvi (1-0), leading to a TKO loss. Landing badly on his right arm during a Rizvi take-down, Dumaine began howling in agony, prompting the referee to quickly stop the fight. Having suffered a dislocated elbow that snapped backwards 90 degrees, Dumaine remained on the ground as a doctor and paramedics rushed into the cage. Music came in over the speaker system to mask the sound of his screams.
Rizvi straddled the top of the cage in celebration of his first win, offending some in his opponent’s concerned entourage. The event was delayed for approximately half an hour as Dumaine was taken to the hospital for observation after his elbow was returned to its normal alignment in the cage. A fundraising effort has begun to support Dumaine’s recovery.
Maxime Dubois (2-0) delivered a 53 second TKO against Gregory Carpenter (0-3) in the evening’s third bout. Carpenter spent two minutes writhing in pain on the ground from an accidental kick between the legs to start the fight. Once restarted, Dubois unleashed his striking. “I kicked him in the body, kicked him in the head, then I saw he lowered his hands, so I landed a punch to his chin,” said Dubois. “His knees gave out and I was able to finish.” Of four Team Legion fighters on the card (Dubois, Pellerin, Gariépy, Côté), 18 year-old Dubois was the only who managed to win Saturday.
Looking to avenge two previous amateur losses to rival Steve Bégin (0-1), Jeff Breau (2-0) succeeded with a unanimous 30-27 victory in the evening’s only heavyweight bout. A cut near Bégin’s left eye in the 1st round continued to bleed throughout the fight, as Breau managed to continually out-strike him.
“I’m glad he was my opponent,” said Breau. “I’d been waiting for a long time to get my revenge.” The two fighters last met as amateurs in September 2010. They shared a tense stare-down prior to the start of Saturday’s bout.
Entering the evening’s opening bout on a day’s notice, Toronto’s Michael Imperato (3-0) delivered a 69-second finish, submitting Pierre Melon (0-1) via ankle-lock. In Montreal to support his Tap Star team-mate Steve Simms, Imperato was offered the fight at weigh-ins Friday after a spot opened up on the card. Having fought at 135 lbs three weeks earlier at UGC 26, Saturday’s fight was at a catch-weight of 160 lbs.
Rising Star is set to return for a third event May 14th, which should see the promotion move back to Club Soda. Ringside 10 takes place April 9th, and mark’s the sister promotion’s debut at the Bell Centre. The card is headlined by a bout between UFC veterans Patrick Côté and Khalib Starnes.
Other Montreal MMA News coverage of Rising Star 2:
– Quick Results
– Post-fight interview w/ main event winner Steve Simms
– Post-fight interview w/ Ringside bantamweight title contender Stéphane Pelletier
– Post-fight interview w/ Ringside President Eric Champoux
– Pre-Fight interview w/ Ringside President Eric Champoux
– Post-fight interview w/ Michael Imperato
– Post-fight interview w/ Maxime Dubois