Home Sports Fightquest draws in the crowds 

Fightquest draws in the crowds 

Ben Winger fights Raihanne Lucette. Winger beat Lucette via unanimous decision. Courtesy Stephane Vigneault

The 54th edition of Fightquest was a hit at the Knights of Columbus last Saturday, with amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters showing their skills to sold out crowds. 

“Every show was pretty much sold out three weeks to a month before,” said Stephane Vigneault, one of the organizers. At the last Fightquest, Vigneault had to turn away around 100 people at the door, so this edition of the event was highly publicized to ensure everyone had tickets for the fights. 

“We never have a problem getting people to come to the show,” he said. “It was a huge success.” 

Fightquest usually hosts three or four shows a year, bringing together amateur fighters from across Turtle Island, often primarily from Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick. For many of the amateur fighters, Fightquest is a notch in their belt on the way to turning pro.  

“Many fighters who fought Fightquest make it professional, a few of them make it to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), which is the biggest league in the world,” Vigneault said. “Pretty much 90 per cent of the professionals fighting in the professional league from Quebec all started at Fightquest. It’s kind of the first step to starting a fighting career for people on that path.” 

“Everyone knows when you fight in Fightquest, it’s high calibre, and after a few fights, you’ll be ready to go to the professional league. You come here, you fight the best fighters, all the time.” 

Though no local fighters were involved in this edition of Fightquest, there was a high local turnout. Highlights included Joël Renaud (Académie L’Octogone) beating Artem Eshonov (Tristar Gym) via unanimous decision, which saw Renaud become the Fightquest welterweight champion, as well as Omar Al-Mukhtar (Team 360 MMA) beating Vincent Gilson (Nova Gym) via standing guillotine choke technical submission, which made Al-Mukhtar the Fightquest light-heavyweight champion.  

Vigneault, who co-organizes with Kahnawa’kehró:non Peter Thomas, said that Kahnawake plays an invaluable role in facilitating the fights that Fightquest is able to host.  

“In Quebec right now, amateur fighting is a gray zone. It’s not illegal but not really legal. If we do a show in, say, Laval, the police can say to cancel it or they can allow it; it’s the police who decide because there’s no laws for amateur MMA right now,” Vigneault explained.  

Vigneault said he collaborated with Thomas back in 2010, getting approval for amateur MMA fights to take place in Kahnawake with the permission of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK), the Peacekeepers, and community members.  

“Fightquest is the only 100 per cent legit amateur MMA in Quebec. We’re sanctioned, we’re approved, we have a doctor in place, there’s lots we have to do, and we do that for every show,” he said. “We’re really careful about the security of the guys. That’s the main thing. I want people to have good security when they fight in Fightquest, and I want it to be a big, nice show for them too.” 

Kahnawa’kehró:non David Beauvais is currently an amateur MMA fighter, and though he didn’t fight in this edition of Fightquest, he’s attended countless times. He said the competition is invaluable for those seeking to make it in the MMA scene.  

“It’s probably the best way to develop, it gives you a little taste of what it’s like heading into the pros, people that fight at Fightquest often go on to have good professional careers,” he said. “Usually, people have already fought a couple of times which makes for a really competitive fight. Matchmaking is great. They’re all pretty even and tough matches for everybody in there.”  

“Another promotion can use 20 fights, 30 fights sometimes, but Fightquest keeps it to 10 or 11, so each fight is like its own showcase,” he said. “If you’re trying to get to the pro levels, this is exactly what you need. It’s as close as you’ll get to the pro ranks while you’re an amateur.” 

With Fightquest continuing to draw in the crowds, Vigneault wants more local talent to get into the ring. He said he’s hoping to see Beauvais at the 55th Fightquest, scheduled for June 15.  

“Hopefully we can have more guys from Kahnawake one day step in,” he said. “We want people ready to fight.” 

evedcable@gmail.com 

This article was originally published in print on March 8 in issue 33.10 of The Eastern Door.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.