By Con Griwkowsky, Edmonton Sun
Joseph Henle made a huge impression at MFC34.
When he first arrived in Edmonton for his Aug. 10 middleweight bout against local hero Luke Harris, he arrived under a cloud of anonymity.
Harris had built himself quite a record, winning nine straight fights by first-round submission.
Yet, when Henle scored a vicious first-round KO over the owner of the Hayabusa Training Centre in St. Albert, he put himself right in front of the line for a title shot.
So, when the main card lineup for MFC35: Explosive Encounter on Oct. 26 was announced Monday, Henle made it to the marquee matchup.
He’ll be facing another relative newcomer to Mark Pavelich’s growing stable, Elvis (the King) Mutapcic in the MFC middlewight title.
Henle was given the nickname Leonidas due to his uncanny resemblance to the hero of the movie 300.
The rest of the card is equally compelling, as Pavelich continues to grow his brand with a combination of uncanny matchmaking and an eye on entertainment value.
Like anything else, luck may have played some part in the MFC’s growing popularity, but Pavelich puts it down to a dividend of hard work.
“Our best success has come when we focus on matchmaking exciting fights and keep in mind how future scenarios might play out,” Pavelich said. “So, we put fighters together who will compete with passion and give everything they have.
“This is mixed martial arts. This is a sport, but let’s not forget that first and foremost this is entertainment. I want our fans entertained and we’re going to showcase the fighters who are entertaining and exciting.”
If that’s a promise that Pavelich intends to weed out the boring ground-and-pound defensive-style fighters, nobody’s about to argue.
Pavelich has managed to increase his option by resurrecting the heavyweight division in MFC34. He’s now adding a featherweight division that’s traditionally housed some of the more energetic and entertaining fighters in the MMA world.
Kicking off the featherweight division will be a bout between Vancouver Graham Spencer and Shane Nelson.
Spencer was in the middle of a recent controversy when he was signed by another local promotion and susequently released because of a perceived conflict.
Pavelich, has been known to release fighters in the past because they took on fights in other organizations while still under contract to the MFC, apparently had no such qualms.
Spencer boasts a victory over MFC lightweight title contender Mukai Maromo.
The MFC continues to build its heavyweight division in a matchup between Smealinho Rama and Ryan (The Vanilla Gorilla) Fortin.
The Gorilla had fought in Pavelich’s HeatXC promotion and is looking to rebuild his career. His most noteworthy win came last April when he scored a third-round KO of Hall of Famer Dan Severn.
Former hockey enforcer Derek Parker has become an MFC crowd favourite with his rugged style and is slated for an MFC33 rematch against Jared McComb in a middleweight bout.
In a welterweight bout, Sabah Fadia and Cody Krahn are looking for much-needed wins, and a light-heavyweight bout is scheduled between Paul Granbois and Jason Kuchera.