LETHBRIDGE - Some of the best mixed martial arts fighters from across the country will be in the Lethbridge for the next couple of days for the Canadian Combat Alliance's 2018 Canadian National Amateur Tournament.
Athletes from across Canada will compete over three days in a tournament style event to solidify their spots at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World Championships in Bahrain this fall.
The event will be taking place at the Servus Sports Centre beginning Wednesday, April 11, and running until April 13.
Blair Foster, one of the event organizers, explains what the format will look like.
"How we have it set up is on Wednesday and Thursday will be the tournament itself, and then Friday will be the gold medal matches from the tournament as well as the pro fights for Rumble in the Cage event," Foster said.
As far as local talent is concerned, two fighters from Lethbridge will compete in the tournament itself and then six for sure, and possibly seven, on the pro side of the card.
20 fighters in total will compete in the tournament portion.
Foster says it's a big event in the Canadian fighting scene.
"The Canadian Combat Alliance has awarded us this event three years in a row and this is our third-year hosting. It basically brings people from all over Canada, athletes, coaches, and spectators to the city. We definitely tie up a few hotels in town, we have people driving in from across Western Canada and flying in from Eastern Canada to participate in it and to watch it," Foster stated.
Foster couldn't put a number on the exact economic impact but says it's good for the city.
"With MMA being one of the fastest growing sports, it's only going to keep getting better as we go along especially if we keep getting to host the event," Foster added.
Foster says a couple of years ago they made the scheduling decision to host the tournament on Wednesday and Thursday while adding the pro fight card on Friday to grow the fan base.
"Especially having the gold medal fights also on Friday. It gives those athletes an opportunity to experience that and get that feel for what it's like to compete in front of a large crowd."
Attendance for the tournament itself has been average, about what Foster says organizers expected.
But for the fight card on the concluding night?
"With the gold medal matches included, our attendance has been excellent. We're drawing between 800-1000 people, and we've even had 1,200 in some cases," Foster said.
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