Barefoot Beach Resort in Penticton will be the home of Canada’s first outdoor professional mixed martial arts event.
Five Star Fight League president Justin Donally said the Barefoot Beach Battle received permission for the professional card from the Penticton Athletics Commission, which began sanctioning events in 2008.
The amateur side was approved just a week ago. Donally spent the long weekend getting the paperwork completed. Five Star Athletics Inc., based in Fort St. John wanted to push the amateurs through, especially with having three Penticton fighters on the card. In the future, Donally said it’s likely that PAC and the B.C. Athletic Commission will work together.
The action hits the mat at 7 p.m. today across from Skaha Lake. There will be six professional bouts, the main event giving locals someone to cheer for as Penticton’s Clay Davidson takes on Surreys Kalib Starnes. Three amateur fights include Penticton’s Mitch Burke who faces Paul Alec Jr. of Prince George, Ty Edenoste, who has resided in Penticton and Kelowna, goes against Josh Heinz of Lethbridge, and Penticton’s Jesse Sayers takes on Doug Westbrook of Lethbridge.
Davidson, who is going into the fight with an 8-5 record, said he’s in the best shape of his life.
“Just fought three weeks ago and I felt like I got really pushed in that fight,” said Davidson, excited to be in the main event. “It really helped me prepare for this one. I’m really excited to be fighting in my hometown, especially on the beach.”
In Starnes, Davidson faces the Ultimate Fighter semifinalist with a record of 14 wins: nine by submission and eight losses. Starnes has won his last two Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, defeating David Perron May 19 and Tim Hague on July 5.
“I’m honoured to be fighting Kalib Starnes, he’s basically a hero to me,” said Davidson, a Canadian gold-medal winner in the 2011 FILA Grappling World Championships in Belgrade. “I’m one of those weird guys who wants to smash my heroes. I expect to put on a really good show.”
Davidson, who has been fighting professionally for seven years, said Starnes is a good boxer and he has to watch for that.
“I’m just going in there looking to beat him any way possible,” said Davidson, who considers himself an aggressive grinder.
Donally loves the pro bouts on the card and said the main event has generated talk.
“It’s considered the best matchup of the summer in all of Canada,” said Donally, who loves the location of their event. “As for the next two fights, we have Matt Baker (Kamloops) coming down. He is very popular in the area. Ryan Chiappe is from Vancouver, another talked about B.C veteran.”
Jason Cox, chair of PAC, thinks this event will be great.
“It’s very unique,” said Cox, who added this will be the final event PAC sanctions. “These are guys trying to get to the next level.”
Cox added that Penticton is becoming a key stop and destination for MMA events as they have also hosted Battlefield Fight League at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
“They draw, like any niche sport, with a set of fans,” said Cox.
Typically Five Star Fight League events sell between 800 to 1,200 tickets. Having rented the entire resort, Donally said max capacity is 1,500, but he expects the numbers to be closer to their usual draw.
“We always try to pre-sell our dinner tables and the fighters move a few tickets,” he said. “You sell a few online. Nobody really gets them until the last few days up to the fight.”
Tickets are available at Barefoot Beach Resort, Big Dakez Rental Hut and Beachwear, Best Damn Sports Bar, Fit City Supplements and 30 Minute Hit until 4 p.m. today. After that, they can be purchased at the door.