Sunday, March 25, 2007

MMA fighters ready to rumble

By Don Brennan

With training 'hell' over, Ronin crew eager to embrace Chaos

If the Ben Meireles prediction for Capital Chaos winds up wrong, it certainly won't be for lack of preparation.

His fighters are more than ready to rumble.

"I think we'll go 4-0, for sure," said Meireles, who will manage a quartet of combatants at Wednesday's King of the Cage production at the Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau. "They've been training really hard and are ready to go to war.

"For these guys, the day of the fight is the easiest day. It's the 12 weeks of training that's hell."

Meireles is not only the co-owner of Ronin Mixed Martial Arts on Carling Ave., but he also manages the club, trains fighters and carries the distinction of being Ottawa's first and only black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The place has grown significantly in the five years since he, Jamie Helmer and Shahram Rasthy gathered a few friends to train in the basement of a building across the street from the Coliseum.

"It was very small," remembered Meireles. "And the entrance was at the back, by the garbage dump."

Now, the Ronin school has dozens of students and occupies both floors of the building. It also has a front entrance.

"We are a big family," said Meireles. "Everything we do, we do together."

The 20 club members who are helping the Ronin fighters prepare for Wednesday's card provide a good example.

Instead of sparring with one guy for 15 minutes, a fighter will face six opponents for 2O minutes each, with 30-second breaks between the three rounds.

"I don't want to give out all the details of the rest of the week," said Meireles, "because then I'd be giving everybody the tools of how to work."

Meireles tells those who join the club with designs of getting in an MMA fight that they must first have at least their blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and train in Muay-Thay for at least a year.


"These guys are not full-time fighters, they all have full-time jobs," said Meireles. "Some of them have university degrees, some of them are engineers, some of them are computer geeks.

''People think guys come to the school to bang on each other, but that's not the case. We tell them, 'If you want to fight, you have to train hard.' When they're ready, I tell them they're ready."

Ready for his first fight Wednesday night is Jay Bissonnette, who has trimmed down from 260 to 205 lbs. in the past year.

He'll face Sudbury's John Cole, who knocked out his opponent 22 seconds into their fight in the last King of the Cage show.

Cole predicts he'll dispose of Bissonnette -- who's also known as "The Monster" -- even quicker.

However, promoter Pete Rodley says never underestimate a Ronin product.

"Those guys never let me down," said Rodley. "They always come to play."

Also representing Ronin will be Wade Shanley, an instructor at the club, as well as Stephan Lamarche and Nick Denis.

The main event will feature Toronto's Mark Bocek, billed as the next Canadian phenom, who will take on B.C.'s Garrett Davis in a 160-lb. bout. Rodley says Davis was the only Canadian he could find who would fight Bocek.

The semi-main event sees T.J. Grant from Halifax put his undefeated status on the line in a battle with Saskatoon's Elmer Waterhen, who is reputed to be one of the "most feared fighters out of Central Canada."


This will be a ranking bout to determine the No. 1 contender at the 170-lb. class for the next King of the Cage.

While LaMarche takes on London's Eugene "CuJo" White and Dennis squares off against "Pitbull" Chris Myra from Petawawa, Rodley is also anxious to see 18-year-old Jean Marc Lalonde of Sudbury take on Toronto's Paul Ebejer.

Lalonde debuted at the last King of the Cage and, while he lost, put on quite a show in what Rodley hails as "one of the most brutal fights I have ever seen in my life."

Also on the card will be the likes of Jason Motard, who is the owner of local club FIT MMA, as well as "Showtime," X-Man Wayne Xilon, Bruckmann MMA fighter Justin Bruckmann, and Vin Diesel look-alike Eric Muir, who is considered a future champion.

"I am extremely excited as a fan," Rodley said of the upcoming card.

"The last event was just explosive and it was a sellout crowd. All the fans asked for more, so we're bringing them more.''

Fans are invited to the weigh-in at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Market on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.


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