With Edmonton swimming in a sea of the orange and blue of its beloved NHL team, it is a rarity to step into this city and think of 10-ounce gloves and a boxing ring or the opened-fingered gloves that are synonymous with a cage.
If you are unaware of the latter, let me inform you that Edmonton has a thriving sports scene. With the rise of mixed martial arts and the ever-present history of boxing, it’s no surprise that these sports are booming in a variety of cities.
This year marked an historic event in the world of combat sports with Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather being a spectacle you couldn’t miss – a clash of two different types of combat sports. This fight alone could have made a non-fan or a casual fan addicted. For Edmonton fans, it could have been the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event that came to the city on Sept. 9 at Rogers Place. No matter the reason, combat sports are becoming a bigger deal here in Edmonton.
Adam Braidwood, who used to play for the Edmonton Eskimos before trying his hand at combat sports, is a current World Boxing Union heavyweight champion, with a 1-0 record in MMA and 10-1 record in boxing.
When asked about the Edmonton fight community ahead of his fight at KO 80 boxing on Sept. 22 at Shaw Conference Centre, he said there is “good media attention” in Edmonton.
“I mean, I just picked up the paper with my face on the cover. Edmonton people get excited about boxing, Boxing is making a comeback,” said Braidwood.
Braidwood is no stranger to Edmonton with eight of his 11 fights being here. He is also no stranger to one of the most popular fighters to come out of Edmonton, Tim Hague.
The last fight Hague would ever have was against his friend and occasional weight lifting partner, Braidwood. Hague suffered a brain hemorrhage after being knocked out in the fight.
Hague was a former elementary school teacher turned UFC fighter turned boxer. Braidwood goes further into the impact of Hague by saying “Before anything was specialized he was figuring it out on the fly. He actually went really far with it.”
Another well-known fighter in Edmonton is Ryan Ford. Ford was not only raised in oil country but grew up in the world of combat sports. Ford’s father is Al Ford, a former Canadian lightweight champion. Fighting is in his blood. Ford had fought in the MMA circuit for seven years, holding a record of 22-5. In 2010, Ford made the switch to boxing full time and, with a current record of 13-0, he is showing the boxing world why he is the real deal.
Ford recently missed an opportunity in the form of a WBO light heavyweight Intercontinental match with Britain’s Anthony Yarde in the UK. Negotiations fell through and Ford picked up a last-minute fight in Montreal, while he was training for the fight against Yarde. Ford was on a 14-day mandatory suspension after the Montreal fight so he couldn’t compete at KO 80, even though he wanted to. Edmonton has some tough fighters and Ford is one of them.
Edmonton has become a good place for the fight game. Whether you’re a fan or a fighter or which combat sport you choose, boxing or MMA, Edmonton appreciates the fighting sports.
– Tre Lopushinsky, Sports Co-Editor