The Armageddon Fighting Championship is expanding with an aggressive move into Alberta – literally.
The AFC, Victoria’s top mixed martial arts organization and one of the most stable outfits in B.C., is aligning with Aggression MMA of Edmonton and AX Combat of Calgary under the new brand Aggression Fighting Championship.
It’s a deal with immediate benefits and a long-term goal to be Canada’s No. 1 MMA league, said Armageddon co-founder Darren Owen.
“We’re as big as we can get in Victoria. Now we can pool our resources and move into other cities across Canada,” he said. “
Working hand in hand with professional fighter Jason Heit, Owen, a former Victoria Rebels football player, spent years doing the heavy lifting needed to get Armageddon off the ground. Owen and Heit finally got the green light from Colwood in 2009 to begin hosting the “extreme fighting” events that the city of Victoria wouldn’t allow.
This Saturday (April 14) is the eighth Armageddon show, but the merger won’t impact what fans see just yet. Vengeance still has a card built almost exclusively around Victoria- and Island-produced talent.
“Moving forward we’re going to become a national brand,” Owen said. “We’re trying to become the biggest MMA brand in Canada and attract the best fighters in Canada.
“(Once we reach that goal), the AFC title-holder will either be the best free agent fighter not in the UFC, or is Canada’s top fighter for that weight class.”
Going forward, the events will continue in numerical succession from AFC No. 8 this weekend, to AFC 9 in Edmonton on June 8 and AFC 10 in Calgary on June 15. (Coincidentally, Aggression just did their eighth show, while AX has only held two, so it’s the best compromise as the trio of brands become one.)
Branding is a key piece of the puzzle for the AFC’s success going forward, as the burgeoning organization seeks to be broadcast on TV.
“We feel we are closer now to the opportunity of securing a live TV deal, which is fundamental to our growth,” Owen said.
Atop the list of immediate returns is the pooling of fighters.
Since AFC 1 at Bear Mountain Arena in August of 2009, Armageddon has featured dozens of fighters, with a specific core of national-ready talent. Victoria’s Derek Medler leads a group with Diego Wilson, Nick Driedger, Ryan Janes, Karel Bergen and others who will benefit with a chance to fight within the AFC’s suddenly expanded weight classes.
The merger is a great opportunity for fighters to fight more often, Owen said. “Some guys want to fight five to six times a year, and now they can.”
The AFC also has two of the top non-UFC welterweight (170 lbs.) fighters in Canada, with Medler and Edmonton’s Ryan Ford. Ford has a history of training with Zuma Martial Arts in Victoria.
Armageddon also brings Robert Drysdale, who is perhaps the new organization’s top name. The Brazilian jiu jitsu expert is a multi-time world champion and has coached UFC champions. His MMA campaign began with the AFC and he just signed a new four-fight deal, Owen said.
As exciting as the new venture is, the AFC has its challenges, too. AFC is in a battle for Edmonton-based fans and fighters, with the Maximum Fighting Championship, run by boisterous promoter Mark Pavelich. The MFC was recently struck with a tough blow, however, losing its TV deal when Shaw dropped cable’s HDNet last month.