Welch Courtesy Ryan Hall
Due to expectations of rain and wind, Intense Championship Fighting had to move their Friday event from Centene Stadium to the Four Seasons Arena.
ICF President Cory Smith made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook. Even though the weather changes the location, it isn’t dampening what will be an action packed card.
Smith talked to us about the change in venue, and the talent he has lined up for his 15th go-round.
MTCage: You have been doing Centene for years, but this is an obvious hassle to change things up….
Cory Smith: Centene is a fan favorite for sure, just stressful from a promoters stand point because we have to watch the weather like our lives depend on it. We had the Four Seasons Arena on hold in case the weather just didn’t look safe or doable. I personally am an Arena Atmoshphere kinda guy, but the Centene layout its just crazy amazing, under the lights with the Montana Sky above ya, its pretty epic whenever we do it there.
MTCage: After what was a crazy State Fair card a few weeks ago, how was it to have this card fall into place?
Smith: We have been planning this card since May, and after the Fair Show, I just really wanted to make sure everyone knew that the ICF isn’t going anywhere, so really stepped it up and made it the best fight card in our history. It was a true privilege to be the first ever MMA promotion at the Montana State Fair, as hectic as it was, I really did enjoy working with the Cascade County staff, we had a lot of fun that week and we look forward to our positive relationship with them.
MTC: Tim Welch has trained a lot at the MMA Lab in Arizona, home of UFC’s Benson Henderson. Describe how he has changed as a fighter in your eyes.
C.S.: Every time I see Tim he has grown as a person and a fighter. He continues to blow me away on how he carries himself these days, just humble, and living, eating, sleeping, breathing the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. It doesnt hurt to have one of the pound for pound toughest fighters in the whole world at practice with you everyday, I think Benson has been an awesome influence on Tim, and all the other guys that have gone down to train.
MTC: We are seeing a trend of wrestlers making their way into the ICF cage, mainly from the University of Great Falls. How is it for you to have such a talented group of guys like Myles Mazurkiewicz available to sharpen their teeth in MMA?
C.S.: Caleb Shaffer, the head wrestling coach and I are buddies, we talk a lot about the talent that he is bringing in, it literally top notch from across the country. With our shows growing and the brand “Intense Championship Fighting” becoming more and more of a national brand, its cool to see our local college standouts get into the cage and compete at a high level, I credit the hard working coaches at UGF for making these wrestlers as tough as they are, everyone of them that has fought for us is just tough as sh*t with a work ethic like nothing I’ve ever seen.
MTC: Sean O’Malley and Ryan Ibsen are back in a rematch. What are you expecting the second time around?
C.S.: It was a quick fight last time, Ryan made a mistake and Sean capitalized. I get to watch Ryan train here in Great Falls since his home gym “Great Falls Kickboxing Academy”, home of Team Evolution trains here. Ryan is the nicest kid I’ve ever met, just polite and professional, and trains so hard, he has talent that hasn’t even been touched yet, so I think he is coming into this fight with a whole new mindset, and is going to impress the fans for sure, I expect him to bring a good war to Sean, this fight has fight of the night written all over it, I’m expecting them to stand and trade for sure. With Sean, he has been at the MMA Lab with Tim, living there the last few months, this kid a phenom, I have never in my life seen such just natural talent, and his performance in Seattle July 19th just solidified he is going to the top, and fast! I have become very very close with both the Ibsen and O’Malley families, just all around great people that believe in the sport of MMA and support their kids in everything they do,and support 221 Industries, ICF, and Myself. Outta all this I have gained a tough tough tough 135lb class, but on top of that I have met some awesome people, its Win Win for me, I hope they both win haha.
MTC: Anything you would like to add?
C.S.: Excited for this summer run to end, we did back to back to back to back shows/events/fundraisers, so it’ll be nice to shut it down for a minute. We will have 2 shows in the next few months, locations and main events to be announced soon!
Tickets are available at Alias Smith and Jones Pawn, Big Sky Harley Davidson, and the Four Seasons box office in Great Falls.