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Bare Knuckle MMA debuts in Southern Alberta

It’s a big moment for Mixed Martial Arts fighters in Canada. Rumble in the Cage, the longest-running MMA show in the country, has an upcoming card that’s never been seen before in the country.

“It’s the first ever sanctioned bare knuckle MMA fight in Canada,” said Lee Mein owner of Rumble in the Cage. “It’s happened a few times in the states, but never in Canada before, so we’re really proud to be the first show to be able to have a bare knuckle fight happen.”

The main event will see Lethbridge local, Tim Tamaki, and Lenny Wheeler from P.E.I face off in the country’s debut Bare Knuckle MMA fight for professional light weight.

Tamaki who’s been training at CMCMMA with Mein for over 20 years, says he was excited to hear about the event a few months ago.

“Lee text me saying ‘Hey do you want to fight in the next rumble Bare Knuckle MMA” and I was like ‘Hell yeah I want to fight Bare Knuckle MMA,” said Tamaki.

Long hours have gone into preparing for the fight explained Tamaki, sharing he trains five to six nights a week and sticking to his diet.

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“This weight is 155, I usually fight at 145 pounds, so I didn’t have to cut as much weight,” said Tamaki. “So, I feel really good.”

Adding he’s looking forward to Saturday’s fights.

“I feel amazing going against my opponent, because I’ve really dedicated myself and I know my skill set, my mind set where I’m at right now. I’m really comfortable in there and my opponent is a very dangerous opponent, so nothing but respect.”

Compared to classic MMA fights, the same rules apply to Bare Knuckle MMA however the athletes don’t wear padded gloves.

“They have to have tape on their wrist, is all they’re allowed and part of their hand, but they can’t have the knuckles taped and that you know makes it more dangerous for getting cut,” explained Mein.

“But, also beneficial when trying to put chokes on, you don’t have a glove in the way when you’re trying to put around someone’s neck to put an application of a choke,” he added. “So, there’s pros and cons to it. It makes it very exciting, usually there’s a lot more blood and that’s what makes it intriguing in some ways.”

Mein says they were able to get bare knuckle boxing approved a few years ago and have been working to get the permissions for Bare Knuckle MMA.

“The reason that this is the first sanctioned Bare Knuckle MMA fight in Canada is a lot of commissioners don’t allow certain things to happen based on what the province allows, the municipality allows,” said Mein.

“So, the Lethbridge commission has been really good about understanding the sport and combat sports and what’s going on around the world; and being part of the forefront of what we need to be a leader in this sport.”

The sold-out show on April 20, will see 17 MMA fights between amateurs and pros, with 13 fighters coming from Lethbridge.

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