Jordan Cabrejos goes for the armbar as he grapples with William “Billiam” Cohen in training at Vernon’s Unity MMA Monday, Dec. 10. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

Jordan Cabrejos goes for the armbar as he grapples with William “Billiam” Cohen in training at Vernon’s Unity MMA Monday, Dec. 10. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Whether it’s in the way a hook is thrown or a grapple is executed, there’s beauty in the brutality.

That’s the perspective of Unity MMA phenom Rylie “Coyote” Marchand who, at only 17-years-old, took her first adult amateur bout by technical knock out in the first round against 27-year-old Taylor Pinchak in Rumble in the Cage 60 MMA fight night action in Lethbridge, Alta. No. 24.

“It’s more than just exercise; it’s more than just fighting and violence. I think all of the aspects of MMA are beautiful,” Marchand said. “You know, the striking, the jiu-jitsu especially is super fluent and just being able to put it all together is really fun for me.”

In her amateur debut, Marchand took Pinchak to the ground after confrontation on the cage. She ended the bout via ground and pound to earn a TKO with only 12 seconds left in the first round.

“Once I got the takedown and established a good position, I was just looking to stay on top,” Marchand said. “Over the last nine years, I’ve learned that you can be winning one moment and losing the next, so getting full mount was not a guaranteed victory in my mind. When the referee called the fight there were only 12 seconds left in the first so it very well could have gone another round or two.”

Related: Opponent no match for MMA phenom Marchand

Marchand said she feels her wrestling game is where she thrives.

“I feel that my wrestling has benefited me the most, especially in my last fight where I got tagged a couple times on the feet, I was able to go for the takedown and eliminate myself from that situation, reset, and take advantage of being on top,” she said. “On the other hand, I’ve had matches where I was winning on the striking side and used defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing.”

That wrestling prowess is thanks in part to her coach and MMA owner, Raja Kler.

“She did a great job of sticking to the game plan and dealing with her much bigger opponent. As for her training over the last year or so, to be honest, it was a little tough with her knees bothering her, which slowed her progress. But, since the summer, she has come back into full swing and seems more determined than ever to showcase her skills,” Kler said of Marchand. “We hope to have her fighting again early in the new year and collecting more Ws. I should add she is a pretty terrific little woman who I think is an inspiration to many of our students here and people in her community as well.”

Related: Marchand shows MMA moxy

After competing in wrestling and boxing, Kler got in the octagon and fell in love with the sport. In 2008, just before Marchand got her start, Kler officially opened Unity MMA and Kickboxing.

“I tried out an MMA class, got my but kicked, kind of cried on the way home, and then figured I should probably learn what they did to kick my butt, so I came back a month later,” Kler laughed.

Now, with about 60 students in everything from kids’ classes to intermediate students, Kler’s pupils are leaving their mark in the octagon.

Marchand’s primary training partner, Damon “Omen” Marlow, 19, is also fresh off his first W after his MMA debut in Chilliwack Nov. 30.

“I don’t know, I just love training. It’s lots of fun, good people here. I’ve always just loved watching it and I respect the fighters — they put in lots of hard work. I just figured I’d try it and loved it ever since,” said Marlow, who competed in other sports prior to starting MMA about two years ago.

“I have plans to keep going for some more amateur wins and keep getting more experience and eventually go pro.”

Kler said Marlow is one to watch in mixed martial arts.

“I’m very confident you will be hearing lots from him too. I know that at featherweight (145 pounds) he will be making some waves and collecting some W’s en route to getting the belt next year from one of the local MMA organizations,” Kler said of Marlow. “In his debut fight, he fought a more experienced fighter who has been training for six years and was able to pull out a unanimous decision against him and a real chess match.”

Unity’s competitive core is built around six fighters, including Marchand, Marlow, Jordan Cabrejos, William “Billiam” Cohen and Kenny Pope.

Related: Kler doubles MMA

“Basically, it’s just practice, it’s effort, it’s time put in. In the future here you’ll be seeing some more fights coming out of Rylie and Damon and we have some other guys that are coming up,” Kler said.

“I think all fighting sports, all combat sports relate to somebody in some way. It’s the spirit, it’s the drive to get better. It is very hard to be good at these sports. They are sports they’re also not sports — it’s in the middle. I think it’s just the personalities that do it and the hard work. I think people respect that. It’s to see who gets the bone. At the end of the day, who gets the bone.”

Marchand got her start in the sport at eight-years-old when her brother, then six-years-old, won a free month at the club.

“He didn’t want to go by himself so I decided to join him and then I fell in love with it. He quit a few years later and I didn’t,” Marchand shrugged.

“I’d really like to get back in there soon and keep building my record up — hopefully, make a career out of it someday.”

Despite Marchand and Marlow’s aspirations to octagon fame, Kler said Unity MMA isn’t reserved solely for top competitors. Both kids and beginner classes are available through the club.

“For us — especially when it comes to kickboxing, grappling, MMA — it’s all about just coming out, doing something that keeps you going. Nobody has to become professional, it’s not like that. I always think that for an exercise, I like to do something that doesn’t make me realize I’m doing an exercise. I have fun and then I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m sweaty.’ I think that’s what we can offer people too,” Kler said.

“Sky is the limit, right? You can always get a few more people, you can always have more competitors. To be honest, I really just enjoy teaching people and seeing them learn. And, from there, that’s basically my best enjoyment. I don’t need to have the biggest club. I want to have the closest club. That’s more important to me.”


@VernonNews
parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CVSE officer checking out all the trucks before the convoy, which started at Riverlodge Recreational Centre in Kitimat BC and finished at the George Little Park in Terrace BC. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat truck drivers rally together in honour of 215 bodies discovered at Kamloops Residential School

The convoy started at Riverlodge Recreational Centre and finished at the George Little Park

Coast Mountains School District No. 82 acting superintendent of schools, Janet Meyer, talks about policies and procedures relating to the death of Diversity Morgan, a LGBTQ+ student. (Black Press file)
School District 82 to revisit policy after transgender student’s death

Diversity’ death has created a deeper resolve for CMSD 82 to continue doing the work they started

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
With heavy hearts, the Kitimat RCMP hosted a pride flag ceremony to highlight the RCMP’s commitment to inclusion and diversification, as well as honouring the passing of 15-year-old transgender student, Diversity Morgan, from Kitimat.
Speeches were given by Staff Sergeant Graham Morgan, Mayor Phil Germuth, Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, and Diversity’s father, Mike Wilson.
“We are gathered here for the pride flag ceremony, but in my mind, we’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination. […] Today we celebrate what makes us all unique individuals,” Mayor Phil Germuth said in his speech at the pride flag ceremony.
Struggling to get the words out, Crystal Smith, Haisla Nation’s chief councillor, emphasized her condolences to Diversity’s family in her speech sharing her similar experiences as well as acknowledging the need for education around these subjects.
Diversity’s father, Mike Wilson, said he wished that everyone was there under different circumstances but was grateful to see the turnout and the support from the community.
In honour of Diversity, the Kitimat RCMP also lowered their Canadian flag to half-mast, to bring awareness for people who are experiencing discrimination and are in need of additional support.
The Kitimat RCMP also stated that they will be lowering their Canadian flag around this time every year as a visual representation of LGBTQ+.
Kitimat Save-On-Foods also donated water and snacks for the ceremony.
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read