With the revival of Canada’s premiere MMA organization in late 2016 — the appropriately named TKO 36: Resurrection — set the stage for a strong 2017. The Montreal-based promotion churned out 5 must-see events for Canadian MMA fans, cultivating in the crowning of 5 champions at TKO 41. With the calendar getting close to the reset button, we decided to take a quick look back at some of the notable moments from the shows we were treated to this year.
TKO 37: Rivals
On the early portion of TKO 37 we saw Derek “Manchild” Falk, Ashley Nichols and James “The Suplex Kid” Clarke all establish themselves with impressive victories. Falk established his status as a prospect worth keeping an eye on in the 125 lbs. division, Nichols giving an early glimpse into the success she would have in 2017, and Clarke earning the support of the fans for his hard-nose effort and affable personality (“I just quit smokin’ like two weeks ago,“).
The middle section of the card saw Tony Laramie get the best of Kevin Lee in a battle between top notch flyweight prospects. Kevin Genereux made us have doubts about the lanky Matar Lo. The low-key Tyler Wilson defeated the flashy Louis Jourdain, and the “Kung Fu Panda” Adam Dyczka did what he does, knocking out Jared Henderson.
Near the top of the card Lindsay Garbatt quite literally slipped up against Belgian newcomer Griet Eeckhout. TJ Laramie picked up an exciting win over Maxime Dubois, while Charles Jourdain had an impressive submission of Michael Cyr, foreshadowing the end-of-year battle between Laramie/Jourdain for the featherweight title.
The main event saw one of our favourites, Strahinja “The Werewolf” Gavrilovic win but lose for some after-the-stoppage-aggression against Jonathan Vallee.
Oh, and there was this huge KO on the card, too.
TKO 38: Ascension
The early fights on TKO 38 saw Jordan “Golden” Graham (hey, we like that nickname, too bad Jordan) arrive on the scene with a dominant submission over James Clarke. Davis dos Santos knocked out Alex Paul to hilarious result, and Tony Laramie bested Derek Falk with shocking improvements to his standup game.
Midway through the card Tyler Wilson racked up his second straight win, Marc-Andre Barriault and Dimitri Waardenburg also notched victories, while Xavier Alaoui brought his record to 8-1 with a decision win over Michael Imperato.
The latter portion of the card saw Kevin Genereux and Jeremie Capony engage in a slugfest, with Genereux getting the W. Alex Morgan and TJ Laramie did much of the same, except a bad stoppage deprived us of more violence, and giving the win to Morgan. Charles “Air” Jourdain picked up another impressive, flashy win in the co-main event. UFC-veteran Jesse Ronson avenged Chris Horodecki’s defeat from 2016 in the main event with a win over Derek Gauthier in the lightweight division.
TKO 39: Ultimatum
The opening portion of TKO 39 featured the first round of a 4-woman tournament that saw Lindsay Garbatt defeat Corrine LaFramboise, and Ashley Nichols defeat Griet Eeckhout setting up a showdown later in the evening. Matar Lo, Kevin Genereux and Adam Dyczka all picked up stoppage victories too.
The middle portion of the card saw a big win for Tristar product Oulmoudéné “Will” Najebe. Yancine Bandoui got the best of Davis dos Santos, Yan Pellerin submitted Drayton Angus with one of our favourite submissions, the arm-triangle. The Werewolf Gavrilovic snatched a kimura win in his return, as well.
Near the top of the card Keith Lee got his career turned back around with a solid win, while Louis Jourdain used his size advantage to get the best of Tony Laramie. The doctor earned their pay for the evening, being called on top stop the beating Marc-Andre Barriault put on Jonathan Vallee. In the finale of the women’s tournament, Ashley Nichols proved she’s the best female on TKO’s roster with a clear-cut win over Lindsay Garbatt. TJ Laramie secured an excellent guillotine choke in the co-main event, and Air Jourdain styled his way to another eye-catching win over Bellator-veteran Will Romero.
TKO 40: Denouement
Tristar’s James Mancini made his TKO debut on the early portion of TKO 40, showing a very strong wrestling base that will continue to pose problems for the flyweight division in the future. Matar Lo continued his ascension with an amazing head-kick KO win, Tyler Wilson had his momentum derailed by Frederick Dupras and David Daigneault knocked out Alex Paul.
Midway through the card Keith Lee picked up another win, his second straight. Ricardeau Francois made the fateful mistake of not accepting the Kung Fu Panda‘s glove touch, so he had to receive his punishment. Atsushi Fujino made his organizational debut in an upset of Louis Jourdain, while Yancine Bandoui ran his record to 9-6 with a win over Leo Xavier.
As we got near the top of the card, fan-favourite Michael Dufort made his debut with a first round submission of Robert Seres.
Joao Luis Nogueira edged a split decision against Alex Morgan in his debut (lookout other 145ers, this guy is a real pro). The co-main event saw Strahinja Gavrilovic beat the snot out of overweight/debuting UFC/Bellator-veteran Maiquel Falcao. The main event saw Marc-Andre Barriault take home a split decision victory over the controversial Todd Stoute. The less said about Stoute, the better. So we’ll just be glad the appropriate guy won.
TKO 41: Champions
The first fight on the card was a battle between the two first-round losers of the women’s tournament from TKO 39, with Corrine LaFramboise using improved kickboxing and size to bust up Griet Eeckhout. James Mancini continued his wrestling clinic, this time getting the better of James Clarke. Collin Baikie beat David Daigneault so quick it was hard to process. Matar Lo continued to show excellent growth as a fighter, with a first round stoppage over Charles “Cool Hair” Hupperetz.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the night was Jordan Graham’s one-sided victory over Tony Laramie. Graham looks poised to make some noise (hey that rhymes) in 2018. Jesse Arnett tapped out Dimitri Waardenburg in less than 2-minutes to claim the featherweight title.
The Kung Fu Panda kept his momentum running all the way to the title, with another one-sided beatdown of the flashy Bakary Sakho to claim the heavyweight title. Congrats, Panda on a spectacular 2017.
Jesse Ronson and Derek Gauthier hadn’t gotten enough of each other earlier in 2017, so they decided to throw down again, only for higher stakes this time. The result ended up the same, with The Body Snatcher scoring another TKO victory, only this time doing it much quicker.
The co-main event saw a rematch between Gavrilovic/Barriault. The first fight went to the judges scorecards after 3 rounds for a split decision, while this would be the same after 5 rounds. A gruelling, exhausting fight between the rivals featured perhaps the finest German Suplex you’ll see in MMA, with the Werewolf putting Powerbar in some very serious trouble late in the fight. In the end, Barriault would squeak out the split decision victory to become middleweight champion.
The main event was the inevitable clash between two of TKO’s youngest stars, Charles Jourdain and TJ Laramie. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the fight; Laramie thoroughly dominated Jourdain with his wrestling abilities, essentially scoring a shutout over the flashy Jourdain.
While it wasn’t the perfect fight to end the year, it was an excellent card overall and an even better overall year for the promotion. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what Stephane Patry and company have in store for us in 2018.