Long layoffs and new weight classes proved to be no match for a pair of Vernon mixed martial arts fighters.
Rylie Marchand and Damon Marlow, both from Vernon’s Unity MMA and Kickboxing gym, competed at Battlefield Fight League 71 at the Harbour Convention Centre in Vancouver March 10.
Marchand, 20, fought as an amateur against Robyn Dunne, a top-10 ranked amateur kickboxer. She won the bout in three rounds by unanimous decision.
It was Marchand’s first fight since last August, when she travelled to Alberta to get around COVID-19 restrictions in B.C. Coach Raja Kler said it was a good opportunity to get rid of the “ring rust” after a long layoff.
She also overcame the challenge of fighting in a new weight class for the first time, having dropped 20 pounds from her last fight.
“At pro she’ll either fight at 125 or 115. We’re not sure yet, but maybe both,” Kler said.
Looking ahead to what’s next for Marchand, Kler says she’ll either fight for an amateur title within the next six months, or turn professional.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Marlow had only four weeks to prepare for his professional debut fight against Matt Lepper, and he had to go up a weight class. Despite the challenges, he emerged victorious after a third-round technical knockout (TKO).
“He had to go up a weight class against a guy who was 6’2” and 20 pounds heavier than him on the night they fought,” Kler said. “He showed his grit and his heart.”
After winning the first round, Marlow struggled a bit in the second but was elated after the TKO in the third round.
“The commentators and everybody from UFC Fight Pass thought that he probably had the fight of the night, because they had such a good back-and-forth battle,” said Kler.
Marlow will likely return to the ring in the fall in the 145-pound featherweight division.
It was a fine showing for two fighters who have had aspects of their training disrupted by the pandemic, such as limits on their training partners or the inability to travel to different training locations.
Unity is also looking for sponsorships for their athletes’ future fights.
“It’s hard to do the sport and take it to that next level and then have a job, or not have some assistance,” Kler said.
To become a sponsor or to learn more, visit unitymma.ca or contact coach Kler at 250-550-4295.