The newest member of the MMA Ring Report team Benoit Lelievre breaks down the Apex 2 "Undisputed" event that is set to take place on September 3rd, at the Medley in Montreal Quebec. Once again headlined by Ivan Menjivar Benoit Lelievre breaks the night down.
After a very quiet year following their first show, the APEX organization has come back to light with APEX: Undisputed which is set to take place at the Medley, next Saturday, September 3 in Montreal. While their first show gave us a plethora of international talent, this one gives us a deeper look into the local scene. There are ten pro mixed martial arts fights and two professional kickboxing fights to the program. Let me break them down for you:
Lightweights: Mike Hong (Burlington BJJ) Vs Nino Bezerra (BTT Canada)
Very good way to open up the night with both of these two well known on the grappling circuit. Hong opened up a lot of eyes at the last Ontario Submission Wrestling Invitational, waging war with another BTT Canada standout, Wade Shanley and hes known for pushing the pace a lot when he fights. I dont know about his wrestling or his stand-up credentials, but this fight is his debut and a chance to have his name known in MMA circuit.
Bezerra, a Brazilian Top Team brown belt already made his debut in MMA a few months ago against the very solid Greg Compton in the UGC. After a hard fought match, Compton came out on top, pounding the very game Bezerra into a stoppage. Nonetheless, the young Brazilian showed he was game, having taken on the UGC champion as a last minute replacement.
So whos gonna win? Both are grappling standouts, so it might hit the ground quickly, where I think a bigger, heavier Bezerra should pull it out. After all, Bezerra has been rolling with the best of the best in Brazil and if it turns out into a grappling war, like it should, Bezerra should come out with the submission My pick: Bezerra by submission in the second round
Middleweights: Sébastien Poirier (Wrecking Gym) Vs Nabil Khatib (Team Bushido)
Two guys making their pro debut here. On the first hand we have Sébastien Poirier, of the Wrecking Gym. Studying Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Fabio Holanda and wrestling under Brent Beauparlant, Poiriers forte is on the ground. Hes a bit short for his weight class, but hes large, so he needs to shoot and take his opponent down. Poirier has the typical ground and pounder physique, hes a stocky guy with short limbs, that should slip well trough the submissions.
On the other hand there is kickboxer Nabil Khatib. The aggressive striker has a lot of experience, having fought multiple times in the amateur circuit. Khatib fought the likes of Martin Grandmont, Damon Rose and Damien Smektala in amateur kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts and has been known to have only one way to fight and that is forward. I really dont know much about his ground game, but his stand up isnt bad at all. He has great boxing , very good kicks and hes absolutely fearless.
Who takes this one? Id be tempted to go with Khatib, but his overly aggressive style cost him some fights in the past. I think hell charge right off the bat and fall in Poiriers game where hell get picked apart with strikes on the ground. Due to the fact that hes a small middleweight Poirier will probably have hard time finishing the explosive Khatib.
My pick: Poirier by unanimous decision
Lightweight:François Flibotte (Team Union) Vs Sean Ragnitz (Ronin MMA)
This is another classic grappler vs. striker match up here. First we have Flibotte who is a veteran of the Proving Ground series. The fighter from Quebec City is a very good grappler, that fought some stiff competition to date, loosing to headliner Ivan Menjivar in his first ever MMA fight! He also battled BTT Canadas Samuel Guillet, winning by triangle choke and the underground forums own YL2, Yannick Loof. In his last fight, Flibotte lost to Greg Compton by TKO, in Comptons first ever professional MMA fight.
Sean Ragnitz, from Ottawas Ronin MMA is one of the Muay Thai instructors down there. In his first professional fight against John Fraser, a hard fought loss, he showed some methodical Muay Thai clinch work and even showed some wrestling skills, tumbling Fraser down with smooth double legs. In my opinion he was winning the fight until Fraser managed to secure a triangle choke from the bottom.
Like I always say, the better wrestler always dictate where the fight is going to be, so has an advantage in the fight. I think Ragnitz might have less experience, but more tools to deal with the situation. If hes careful and fights an intelligent fight he should sprawl and brawl his way to victory.
My pick: Ragnitz by TKO at the end of the first round
Welterweight:Éric Beaulieu (BTT Canada) Vs Rowan Cunningham (Abhaya/Joslin/Alliance)
That one is an enigma to me. I really dont know what to expect if not a very good match on the ground. I mean, from one side you have Éric Beaulieu, a seasoned veteran that has fought all over the place including the Proving Grounds, UGC, and the Extreme Challenge, Beaulieu has seen a lot. From what Ive seen of him, hes mostly a grappler and likes to take the fight down quickly.
Good thing for Beaulieu, Cunningham is another guy who likes to grapple. Bad thing for Beaulieu, Cunningham is a slick and decorated grappler, renowned all around Canada. Lately, Cunningham has been a part of the last Ontario Submission Wrestling Invitational Grand Prix, along with the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Kyle Sanford, Kyle Saunders, and A .J Scales...so Cunningham is used to high level competition.
Will Cunningham react well to the mixed martial arts? I think so, Beaulieu is the perfect opponent for him to begin, because hell gladly grapple with him, so the stand-up and wrestling factor shouldnt be a problem. Do I think Beaulieu is going to be an easy prey for a guy with superior grappling credentials? Hell no! Beaulieu is renowned as a survivor, a bit like Evan Tanner. Hes a fighter who knows how to weather a storm and finish strong. Cunningham should take this though. Hes a smart fighter who knows what it is to fight at high level. I think hell fight through Beaulieaus incessant comebacks, out position him and maybe dish out some punishment from the top.
My pick: Cunningham by majority decision in a grappling fest.
Welterweight: Martin Grandmont (Team Bergeron) vs. Eric Lacelle (Hawkesbury)
This fight is a rematch from their fight at TKO 19: Rage. Quite honestly the first one was one sided enough that I dont see how a rematch could solve any kind of unfinished business, but Ill give Lacelle the chance to impress me. The first fight went like this. They exchanged on their feet, where Grandmont, the pro kickboxer got the edge. Lacelle scored a nice hip toss, but Grandmont got back up right away and went right back to his element. Grandmont sent Lacelle to the canvas with a high kick and ended the fight with few more strikes that left very few doubts about the clear winner of the fight.
As far as strikes are involved, Grandmont is like a fish in water. Hes a multiple title holder in amateur kickboxing and he made a very remarkable entry on the pro scene. At his second professional fight he not only beat, but dismantled contender Abu Zayd Nawz, flooring him five times, on his way to a knockout victory. As far as his MMA carreer is concerned, Grandmont fought once after his debut against Lacelle, and then lost a hard fought match against a talented young fighter from Team Tompkins, Aaron Tregear. He exposed some weaknesses on the ground during this fight, but hes currently working on it with Revolution BJJ team under black belt Koji Murakami.
I know very little about Eric Lacelle, but the Ontario fighter seems like a well rounded guy, with some Judo in his background as he showed against Grandmont the first time. Hes not used to the spotlight, but I heard he has more fights under his belt then his record indicates. Few people have billed him as a veteran from Fernand Morneaus WECF.
I think this fight might be a blue print of what happened in the first. Grandmont, with some more ground game, might be just less nervous on his feet and will let his heavy hands do the work for him. This is a perfect fight for Grandmont to get back on the winning track.
My pick: Grandmont by TKO in the first round.
Middleweight: Claude Patrick (Toronto) Vs Mandala Kponou (Dragons Lair)
Two similar fighters are squaring off here. Kponou and Patrick are two grapplers that can hold their own in wrestling or stand up but that generally prefer to solve things on the mat. First off, Patrick, a highly regarded grappler in Canada made his debut in MMA at TKO 8 where he easily dispatched of his opponent. He lost his second fight at TKO 10 by decision against Team Miletichs own Andrew McFedries, which was followed by a long period of absence from the ring. Patrick made a glorious comeback in UGC last April where he knocked Team Nestor standout Marcus Célestin out cold, with strikes on the ground, which impressed many in attendance.
From what Ive seen of Kponou, when he fought against the very same Célestin, although hes not a natural striker, his methodical grappling, his patience and opportunistic style earned him a victory. After a nice battle in the first round, Kponou capitalized on a Célestin double leg to take the guillotine choke and end the fight a la Loiseau-Horn. Since then, he has fought more than Patrick so the experience factor might be on his side.
How do I think its going to end up? One thing sure, on the ground! I think Patrick is going to have the edge over there. Hes a highly decorated grappler and we saw glimpses of a new found striking in his last fight against Célestin. They are probably going to offer us a fast paced grappling fest where Patrick is going to come out on top.
My pick: Patrrick by submission in the first round.
Heavyweight Kickboxing: Serge Lafond (Team Bergeron) vs. Wojtek Kaszowski (Warrior MMA)
This is the first of the two kickboxing fights of the night. I wont spend much time on them since Im no kickboxing expert, but I thought it would be interesting to mention them. Lafond and Kaszowski were supposed to fight in MMA but for some reason switched to a pro kickboxing fight which suits them just fine I am sure, since they are both kickboxers.
Lafond, a Yannick Bergeron trained heavyweight, had a good, and somewhat controversial career in kickboxing. In his first fight, he surprised contender Raoul Doucet and won an impressive decision, who was overturned to a no contest by the I.K.F for some obscure reason, but not overturned by the commission here. In his second fight, he had to do an exhibition against Sandy Pembroke, because Pembroke had a test missing that was needed to make the fight official. So will it be Lafonds first credited fight to his pro record? Who knows, but everywhere but at the I.K.F, Lafond is 1-0 already.
Kaszowski, from Warrior MMA gym has been known for taking big challenges in MMA. So far, he has had two fights and he fought great wrestlers in Homer Moore and Brent Beauparlant. Kaoszowski is a Tae Kown Do world champion, so he should work his kicks pretty well against Lafond.
Winner? Lafond. The man lives and breathes kickboxing. Hes bigger and probably has heavier hands then Kaszowski. I expect Lafond to slowly wear down Kaszowski and finish him around the fourth round with heavy shots.
My pick: Lafond by TKO in the fourth round.
Light heavyweight: Brent Beauparlant (BTT Canada) Vs Jason Guida (Gilbert Grappling)
We have one of the most interesting bouts of the evening right here. Brent Beauparlant, a highly regarded hope on the Canadian scene squares off against Jason Guida, a rugged and seasoned veteran. A lifelong wrestler, Beauparlant studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu on the side and a year ago, made the jump to MMA, dismantling Chester Post with vicious ground and pound. Since then, Beauparlant has racked up a win against Wojtek Kaszowski and a loss to future star Helio Dipp. Beauparlant is a complete athlete, besides his amazing wrestling skills, he has a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, under the tutelage of Fabio Holanda, a few amateur boxing fights under his belt and the man knows Muay Thai too. Beauparlant is skilled and dangerous , it will be interesting to see him against a veteran like Jason Guida.
Despite not having the most impressive record (9-7 according to Sherdog), Jason Guidas record is worth a deeper look. After a horrendous start, things have started to turn for Guida. Everytime he fought a guy with a name, he beat him. Guida has wins by submissions over the likes of Leo Sylvest, Ron Fields, Ron Faircloth or Atte Backman. Most of the fans will remember Backman as the gigantic scandinavian who was fighting Gilbert Yvel during the « referee » incident. Guida has some sweet submissions wins and seems on a roll. Will Beauparlant stop him?
I think so, I think Beauparlant is in for a though fight, but he has all the tools to be an important player in the light heavyweight division. Despite Guidas grappling, Beauparlant trains with some career grapplers and wont be scared of a lighter Guidas guard when he takes him down. Beauparlant is a powerhouse at 205 and Guida is billed as a middleweight. This fight should be good, but it should also be a good showing of Beauparlants skills.
My pick: Brent Beauparlant by TKO in the second round.
Welterweight: Steve Berger (Vaghi Jiu-Jitsu/Jones Boxing) Vs Nuri Shakir (Team Elite)
This is the first of two world level fights on the card. UFC veteran Steve Berger square off against Team Elites Nuri Shakir. Despite not having won since his last APEX appearance against Fritz Paul, Bergers resume speaks for itself. In his 29 fights career, Berger has a plethora of big names on it: Heath Sims, Keith Wisnewski, Phil Johns, Robbie Lawler, Pete Spratt, Chris Brennan, Tony DeSouza, Rich Clementi, Jutaro Nakao, Shonie Carter (twice) , Aaron Riley, Jeremy Horn...and Nuri Shakir! Both guys have squared off in USMMA promotion in September of 2002, where he tapped out a very green Shakir. Three years later, the jiu-jitsu stylists are squaring off again.
Despite having a negative record, the very entertaining Shakir always puts up a good fight. He holds a submission win against T.U.F 2 contestant and his record is almost as full of big names as Bergers: UFC vets Fickett and Riley, a very dangerous Thiago Alves, Keith Wisnewski, Kelly Dullanty and of course...Steve Berger.
After three very charged years for both men, its going to be a very interesting rematch. Since then, Shakir has packed on the experience he didnt have in his first encounter with Berger, which is going to make things more interesting. Shakir might keep things on the feet for a round, but Berger will start to take him down in a workmanlike fashion and work his magic on the ground. It should be a lot closer than than first one, but still in Bergers favor.
My pick: Berger by unanimous decision.
Nota Bene: At the time this article is written, Fritz Paul dosent have an opponent, so hes probably gonna fight, but as of now, nobody has been named as a last minute replacement for Stephan Potvin.
Cruiserweight Kickboxing: Stephen Thompson (Upstate Karate) Vs Freddie Espiricueta (Mexican Top Team)
Another kickboxing fight for our general enjoyment! Wonderboy is back ladies and gentlemen! After knocking out Walter Baric in merely thirty seconds in July, he steps up against a Mexican fighter named Freddie Espiricueta. Wonderboy is fast, accurate, spectacular and he has that aura of success that is around very special fighters. Hes a phenom and I think Quebec fans are very pleased to have the chance to see him fight. Ranked fourth at the I.K.F, he doesnt seem to let anything get in his way.
Espiricueta, despite not being well known, is from Mexican blood, which in boxing and kickboxing, tells a lot. Mexican fighters like to trade and like to please the crowd. He seems to have been focused on MMA as of late (he won a few Brazilian jiu-jitsu fights and his professional MMA debut)...but...never count a Mexican fighter out.
I think were in for a very entertaining fight. Espiricueta is gonna bring it to Wonderboy, but like I said, the American fighter is a rare talent. Hes gonna dance around, show his tremendous kicking skills and maybe finish Espiricueta in the late rounds. Expect a crowd pleaser.
My pick: Thompson by TKO around the fifth round.
Featherweight: Ivan Menjivar (Tristar Gym) Vs Joe Lauzon (Reality Self Defense)
The Pride of El Salvador iiiiiiiiiis back! Yes ladies and gentlemen, after a dominating performance against top Pancrase contender Miki Shida in his Japanese breakthrough, Ivan Menjivar is back in front of his home crowd. For the Montreal MMA fans who have lived under a rock for the last three years, Ivan Menjivar is one of the most charismatic, spectacular and dangerous fighters in the featherweight division. Menjivar can do it all. He can kick, punch, knee, elbow, he can take you down, pass your guard, submit you and