With his third win in amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Terrace’s Blake Sigvaldason is two fights away from a title in the Battlefield Fight League (BFL).
BFL is in Vancouver and is one of the top three fight leagues in Canada and is a step away from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
Ranked #4 in the BFL bantamweight amateurs, Blake says his aim is to win the title, go pro and fight his way into the UFC.
“Blake is right on track… one more win and he gets a title shot,” said MMA coach Marc Beer.
On a three-win streak, Blake is 5’8” and 140 pounds.
At age 21, he spent his summer training to fight the third-ranked Kirk Tse in the BFL on September 11.
A week before the fight, he was told Tse cancelled and Blake had no fight, so, sick of his strict diet, he went out and ate a bunch of candy.
The next day he learned they had found another competitor and he would fight Alex Bains, who had a 1-1 record and was ranked 25th of 41 amateur bantamweight fighters in Western Canada.
Blake had to burn all the carbs he’d loaded on and frame a completely new fight strategy in just a week.
Coach Beer says that made for a tough start in the fight, but they had a game plan, and Blake went out and executed it.
“He came out and landed a humongous punch right off the bat that stunned the guy. I thought the fight was going to be over but the kid was tough and the fight went on…
“[Blake] landed some good punches, he landed some big take downs. The other guy was game though, he was strong, he was fast, he could definitely take a punch,” said Beer.
He fought three rounds of three minutes each, and with no knockouts or submissions, Blake was named winner by two of three judges.
He walked away from the win with a few bumps on the back of his head, a sore nose, and a slight black eye.
Asked why he fights, Blake says it is a physical test and way of expressing himself.
“Martial arts is something I’ve been doing my entire life. To me its a form of expressing myself… you are expressing yourself through motion,” he said.
“Another reason is I think it’s the best way to test yourself. You are just in there by yourself, you and another person, and you are just trying to submit each other, make each other quit. I find it’s the purest form of a test a human being can go for.”
Blake says his parents have always been supportive of his fighting.
“When I was young [my Mom] really instilled in me that if I really wanted it, and I worked hard and believed in myself, I could do it,” he said.
At age seven, his parents put him in ju-jitsu, and he got his taste for fighting by playing video games and watching UFC. Fighting has been his goal since age 11, he said, and at 14 he started training with Terrace ju-jistu coach Petro Tsares at the Dungeon, who has been instrumental in shaping him as a fighter.
Blake fought in a few tournaments, but itched for an MMA fight. As soon as he turned 18, he found an amateur MMA fight online, and caught a bus to Calgary to compete.
“I just knew I had to go there and compete… You look at all the greats, most of them have been fighting pro, some of them since they were 16,” he said.
Blake continued ju-jitsu training with Tsares and fought and lost his first three amateur fights before his first win last November.
He started official MMA training last January, when Coach Marc Beer moved to Terrace and started the Terrace fight club, Atlantis MMA.
He has not lost since, and he is not the only Terrace fighter who took home a win from the recent fight card in Vancouver.
Keanan Keller, at 6’5” and 170 pounds, also dominated a fight, earning his first win in the amateur MMA.
His opponent Navi Dhaliwal had way more experience, with two wins and no losses in amateur MMA and a win from a muay thai kickboxing championship.
Keanan “went out there and controlled the entire fight,” said coach Beer.
His opponent “was really strong so it was a lot of Keanan’s strength and technique keeping this guy from being able to get any offence… He got into a little bit of a situation where his opponent was in control, had him mounted, [but] he figured it out and he got back on top.”
Keanan says that moment was key for him, and really boosted his confidence.
“The second he got into full mount, which is basically right on top of me, it was a situation that we had been drilling the week before and I knew exactly what to do… I got out no problem, and got on top and finished the round on top,” Keanan said.
“It was maybe 15 seconds,” said Beer.
“The rest of the fight, [Keanan] controlled it. I couldn’t have been more happy at his performance… the nerves can be the worst part… for him to overcome that his first time against a more experienced opponent, I was really proud of him.”
Keanan walked away with a cauliflower ear and a black and twisted baby toe which got caught in the cage, but he says he loved the fight.
“I loved every moment of it. I’ve been dying for three years to go in and do that. I finally got the opportunity,” he said.
“I like competition. I like pushing myself to the limits. I like the thrill of winning and having goals to work towards. For whatever reason, fighting is just what I’m passionate about. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. I would love to one day be making money and be able to survive off of training and getting sponsors and fighting. It’s been a dream I’ve had for the last three or four years now.”
Keanan says his parents are both supportive.
“My mom, you can tell she’s not thrilled it’s what I want to do, but she still supports me regardless,” he said. “I’m pretty sure my dad subconsciously loves it that I’m doing it. He won’t really say it, but I think he does.”
Keanan says he played a lot of sports when he was young, but lost interest for a while when he could not find one that stuck.
He started lifting weights and watching UFC and then was inspired by Blake to get into MMA.
He started training with Blake and his ju-jitsu coach Tsares in September 2013, and then with MMA coach Beer in January.
With his recent win against a much more experienced fighter, Keanan is preparing for a fight to get him ranked in the top six.
Both Blake and Keanan continue ju-jitsu and MMA training, and will strike into taekwondo and yoga this fall to expand their flexibility and skills.
Their next fights are yet to be scheduled, and will happen sometime between this October and January 2016.