Three local fighters will be looking to do a little damage in Lethbridge on Friday.
Barrett (Too Cool) Thompson, Caleb Ermine and Ryan Rohovich will be fighting at the Exhibition South Pavilion in Lethbridge on an 11-bout Rage Fighting Series event that features both pros and amateurs.
Rohovich meets fellow newcomer Ryan Moore of Saskatoon in the first fight of the night, which will be contested at 170 pounds.
Ermine (2-6) meets Connor Derry (3-0) of Lethbridge at 155 pounds in the third fight while Thompson (3-2) squares off with Kevin Lagasse (3-1) of Brooks in a 185-pound amateur title Fight.
The three fighters took very different paths to the ring.
Rohovich is making his MMA debut after a lot of hard work since April at LDP Martial Arts in Prince Albert. He was first added to the card a couple of months ago.
It’s been a roller coaster ride since. It started when his opponent didn’t finish his medical testing.
“He had to pull out and they told me that I wasn’t going to be fighting anymore,” he said. “Then they found another opponent for me so the fight’s back on and I’m getting ready to go.”
Rohovich, who doesn’t know anything about his new opponent, sees his power as his primary asset going into the fight but he’s ready for anything.
“I feel comfortable if it goes to the ground and if he wants to stand and strike, I’m ready to give it right back.”
His head instructor, Lucian Phillips, can't wait for his bout.
"Ryan has been training like an animal for the past year," he says. "I'm very excited to watch him fight because every day he comes to the gym and his improvements are noticeable. You tell him something -- for example in jiu jitsu you show him a little tweak here to fix a sweep or a position -- and he will do it to you that same night.
"Plus he's a tough guy and has the fire and the competitive edge."
Meanwhile, Phillips says that Ermine has recovered from a controversial title fight he had in another promotion where the instructor says the fight was stopped early. He maintains a familiar strength as a new one comes along.
"His boxing but his jiu jitsu is coming along quite nicely too," Phillips says. "He used to be getting tapped out by lots of the guys here in the gym (in training) but now he's good. He's getting them back and surviving on the mat."
Ermine says the fight in July slowed him down for a bit.
"I took about two weeks off after that fight. It just felt unfortunate," he said. "I guess I had a little bruised ego, you could say. But I recovered from it mentally and ever since then I've been training hard."
The Sturgeon Lake First Nation fighter says he's now ready to get back at it.
"I've never been in this good a shape. I'm really psyched for this fight. Now it's just the mental battle until then to get myself mentally ready for my opponent. He's a tough guy so it's not going to be an easy fight."
Ermine has heard that his opponent is coming back from an injury.
Thompson's last bout was also for a title, but in Hard Knocks last February. While it was a loss by unanimous decision for Thompson, his opponent has been unable to fight since because of the repeated blows to the head that he took.
After Thompson, 30, had to drop out of his scheduled fight on the Hard Knocks card in Prince Albert due to badly injured ribs, he was looking for another bout.
"Rage contacted me and said how would you like to fight for our title at 185?" Thompson said. "I said 'Bring it on.'"
Thompson said Lagasse is apparently a good wrestler whose club trains muay thai. He's also well-muscled so Thompson hopes cardio and reach will be his primary advantages.
Thompson's history in mixed martial arts began as a young judo practitioner and later high school wrestling. He admits to being in a lot of bar and street fights before finally moving into MMA three years ago.
"I figure if I don't do something great in the next five years, I might just hang up the gloves and let my four-year-old take over," he said with a smile.
He moved to Prince Albert a year ago but he's from La Ronge, where he helped found the L.A. Warriors club with his brother. But he says training with the guys at LDP has helped.
"They're a good solid club," he says. "I feel more confident ever since I started training with them."
While work and injuries have kept Thompson from becoming a regular at LDP, Phillips says he's aware of what Thompson brings to a fight.
"One thing I know about Barrett is that he's a tough dude," Phillips says. "He hits hard and I know he's very competitive."