FightForce Touts ‘Best’ Fight Card Ever for Kalispell Kombat

By Beacon Staff

I was pretty skeptical of mixed martial arts as a serious sport when it really took off about 10 years ago, and I wasn’t alone. But thanks to the credibility established by UFC, MMA is now pretty widely accepted and supported as a legitimate competitive endeavor.

Evidence of that can be clearly found here in the Flathead Valley, where the number of both fighters and fans continues to grow. There are several talented locals rising in the MMA ranks like Zach Dickson and Jake Oyler, two professionals who train out of Montana Straight Blast Gym in downtown Kalispell.

The upcoming Kalispell Kombat event on Jan. 21 at Majestic Valley Arena is further proof of the valley’s growing appetite for MMA. The current fight card features 15 Kalispell residents competing in 14 bouts, including a professional main event fight for Dickson. Fights are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s probably the best card we’ve ever had in Kalispell,” said Kevin Moore with FightForce, which puts on the fights. “The talent is getting better and better here. These are high ranked amateur fighters.”

FightForce has been producing MMA events across the state over the years, and Kalispell has always been a popular stop. Last year’s Kombat drew over 1,000 fans, but never this many fighters.

“We’re loading it up,” Moore said. “It’s going to be a long night with a lot of good amateur fights and a good professional fight for Zach.”

Straight Blast Gym, a growing MMA gym with a history of strong competitors, has three fighters besides Dickson competing. A video below shows a compilation of the gym’s bouts from a previous Kombat event. Other fighters are competing “freestyle,” meaning unattached.

In conjunction with the event, a food drive is being held and a local business is offering a chance to meet and have dinner with a famed UFC fighter.

Fashion Plus Clothing in Kalispell is hosting Anthony “Rumble” Johnson between 12:30-5 p.m. on Jan. 21. Johnson, who is fighting Vitor Belfort in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 142 on Jan. 14, is a friend of Fashion Plus owner Kelley Taylor’s. He appeared at last year’s Kalispell Kombat. On Jan. 21, he will be offering autographs inside Fashion Plus, located at 132 East Idaho St. Those who purchase an article of clothing will be entered into a drawing to win a dinner with Johnson.

In cooperation with FightForce, Straight Blast Gym has started a food drive that will go until Jan. 20. With a donation of 10 non-perishable food items, donors’ names will be entered into a drawing for a VIP Ringside Table at Kalispell Kombat. The table will seat 10 people and has a value of $500. All donations must be delivered by noon Jan. 20 and the drawing will be held at 7 p.m.

Kalispell Kombat tickets can also be purchased at SBG or at the event. General admission tickets are $20 in advance. Ringside tables are available for $500.

Kalispell Kombat
Jan. 21, Majestic Valley Arena
Fights start at 7:30 p.m.

Current Fight Card
*Fighters affiliated with a gym have the gym’s name next to their names
135 pounds — Jarrett Smith, Straight Blast Gym, Kalispell vs. DJ Snyder, Deer Lodge
175 pounds – Brandon Bailey, Kalispell vs. Matt Konoljnen, Montana MMA, Bozeman
170 pounds — Michael Kuehne, Kalispell vs. Riley Tobin, PFA, Canada
160 pounds – Mark Johnson, Kalispell vs. Lane Day Chief, PFA, Canada
130 pounds – Luis Calderon, Kalispell vs. Leo Shoji, PFA, Canada
150 pounds – Vinnie Rossi, Kalispell vs. Mark Fallon, Kalispell
145 pounds – Sheldon Fisher, Fighters Island, Polson vs. Ericson Abalos, Montana MMA, Bozeman
145 pounds – Tony Best, Kalispell vs. Kris Putman, Heart N Soul, Great Falls
155 pounds – Joel Ballard, Kalispell vs. Jeremy Sanderson, Deer Lodge
135 pounds – Duran Flaget, Straight Blast Gym, Kalispell vs. Mitch Creighton, PFA, Canada
185 pounds – Gus Nolte, Straight Blast Gym, Kalispell vs. Tyrel Phillips, Grindhouse, Billings
185 pounds – Greg Tatar, Kalispell vs. Ace Gingerich, Dog Pound, Hamilton
155 pounds – Brent Young, Kalispell vs. Tyler Sager, Kalispell
145 pounds – Zach Dickson, Straight Blast Gym, Kalispell vs. Daniel Swain, Canusa, Newport, Wash.

CORRECTION:I originally said that Johnson will be appearing at Fashion Plus on Friday. He’ll actually be there on Saturday, the day of the fights.

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