Monday, June 16, 2008


Originally posted by - Jeff Meszaros -

A hometown hero on the verge of breaking into the big time. A former
world champion fighting to get back to the top. A match to decide
whose dream will become reality.

It sounds like a story from a Hollywood movie - but it won't be coming
to your local theatre. Instead, on Friday, June 20 at the Max Bell
Centre, you can watch it live as Calgary's own Andrew Buckland and
former UFC title contender David "The Crow" Loiseau meet for the
biggest fight in cow-town's mixed martial arts history.

As one of the feature matches at Raw Combat: Resurrection, the battle
marks an important milestone for both fighters. For Buckland, it's a
chance to test himself against truly top-shelf competition in front of
his hometown Calgary crowd. For "The Crow", it's about proving that
he's still one of the top 185-pound fighters in the world.

"There haven't been a lot of fighters to come out of Calgary,"
Buckland explains. "There aren't a lot of big camps here. From
Edmonton, there's Jason MacDonald. From Lethbridge, there's Jason Day.
In Calgary, there just aren't schools that have produced world-class

It's a statistic that Buckland plans on changing. With a record of
9-1, a win over Loiseau could thrust him onto the world stage for the
chance to make Calgary's mark in the big leagues of MMA. For the home
of an NHL hockey team and a CFL football team, having a world-class
MMA fighter to call their own would be a welcome addition to their
already rich sports heritage, to be held alongside the world-famous
Calgary Stampede as an example of the rough and ready prairie town's
hard work and determination.

If there was a fighter for the town to embrace as one of their own,
Buckland is certainly it. Surrounded by oil fields and farmlands,
Calgary is a city where people know all about working with their
hands, and it would be difficult to find a finer embodiment of that
blue-collar grit than the young 27-year-old.

"I have my own business," he says. "I'm a carpenter and a framer. I
build houses so I work eight or nine hours a day, then I go train at

It's a daily routine that would kill most people inside of a week, but
Buckland has been keeping the long hours ever since he started
fighting - although he admits his career as a professional MMA fighter
is still in its early stages.

"It's not very long," Buckland admits. "I've only been doing it for
about three years. I went to a King of The Cage show, and watched it
live and I thought 'I would destroy these guys' so then I just went in
and started training and I had my first fight after a few months of
training. I won that one, and I just kept on going from there.

With one win under his belt, the Calgary native went on to dominate a
long list of opponents, including fellow Alberta native Dan "Torture"
Chambers and Brazilian Lucas Rota. Today, a loss to American Dan
Hornbuckle stands as the only blemish on his career - and if Buckland
has his way, revenge might not be far around the corner.

First though, Buckland must deal with "The Crow" - a fight he agrees
is a huge step up in competition from the opponents he has faced so
far. "He's a veteran," he says. "He's obviously going to be talented.
He's been in the game for a long time. But I've got a bigger heart and
I've got more determination than he does. I think that's something
that he's lost."

While Buckland's comments could be chalked up to pre-fight trash talk,
he's not the only one who thinks that Loiseau has lost his edge since
his days in the UFC, but "The Crow" isn't letting the critics get to

"I don't really care," he says. "I don't pay attention to all of that.
I'm a veteran of this game. I fought the best guys on the biggest
stage. I was the main event when I fought in Las Vegas in front of
20-thousand people."

"Now I'm on my way back. No matter what happens in my career, in life,
i just roll with the punches, stay strong, stay focused. This is how I
live. I just never quit. When you keep working hard, and you stay
positive in life, things turn around for you."

For "The Crow", staying positive is critical. Just as a win over
Buckland could propel him back to the big leagues, a loss to the
Calgary youngster would be a devastating setback to a storied fighting
career that began nearly a decade ago.

Like his training partner, Georges St. Pierre, "The Crow" exploded
into the octagon with a list of Canadian MMA credentials and an
impressive combination of technique and athleticism. But while St.
Pierre was able to spin his talents into a UFC championship belt,
Loiseau fell painfully short of his goal.

"I started fighting in 2000 and I became a Canadian champion with the
UCC," he says. "I also became a TKO World Champion. I went to the UFC
and I won my first fight. I lost my second, but I came back to put the
wrong things right like the Crow always does and I became the number
one contender for the UFC world championship."

Loiseau earned a shot at the belt by dominating UFC veteran Evan
Tanner in 2005, cutting his opponents' face to ribbons with a vicious
series of elbows.

"A lot of people forget something about this fight," he says. "Before
I cut him, I hurt him. I hit him straight in the face from his guard.
I did some nasty ground and pound. I body kicked him, head kicked him.
There was a lot of damage that was done, you know."

"When you get cut, you go to the ref and say 'don't stop it, don't
stop it.' Tanner didn't say anything. He just sat down. He was done.
That had nothing to do with the cut. I beat him down. People think it
was stopped on cuts. Pay attention to the fight, and look at his face.
Look how much damage he takes before the ref stops it."

Leaving Evan Tanner bloody and battered in his wake, "The Crow" went
on to face then middleweight champion Rich Franklin at UFC 58: UFC vs.
Canada. Competing in the main event in front of 20-thousand fans, the
explosive fighter from Quebec seemed unable to mount an offense
against the champion and suffered a 5-round unanimous decision loss.

"I had an off night," Loiseau explains, "I had a bad day at work but I
never quit. A week after the fight, I started working out again."

Since fighting for the UFC world championship belt in 2006, "The Crow"
has had a few more off nights, losing three of his last five matches -
including a controversial split decision to Jason Day in Hardcore
Championship Fighting : Destiny. While many fans say that "The Crow"
should've been awarded that win, Loiseau looks back on the fight as a
learning experience.

"It was a pretty good fight," Loiseau says. "Even Jason admitted that
he lost the fight. When they raised his hand, he looked at me and said
'David, you just got robbed.' I was mad, but I was the one who left it
up to the judges. The person to blame is me, not the judges. I didn't
finish the job. I don't really care, though. Things happen for a

After the disappointing loss to Day, the veteran from Montreal moved
on to his next challenge: a match against British Columbia's Todd
Gouwenberg at Hardcore Championship Fighting: Crow's Nest in March of
2008, where he won a unanimous decision.

"I just moved forward," he explains. "I proved to myself that I could
perform like I performed back in the day. I just went out there and
fought and enjoyed myself. It was pretty intense and it was me from
the old days, throwing elbows, being versatile with takedowns, very
spectacular kicks. It was a spectacular fight. I gave the fans what
they paid for."

Now "The Crow" is ready to give Calgary fans another show, as he
prepares for his match with Buckland.

"I'm preparing just as I would if I were fighting the UFC world
champion. It's the same thing as if I were going against Anderson
Silva. I'm training hard. I just got back from Denver, Colorado where
I trained with Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt and Georges St. Pierre.
Georges just left for Brazil, so now I'm training with my team here,
Patrick Cote and Jonathan Goulet - so everything is all good."

While Loiseau works out in Montreal, Buckland is putting in his
training time at two gyms in Calgary, and is drinking in the knowledge
from his trainers.

"I train with Josh Russell at Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu," he says. "I've
only been there for about three months and that's strictly a jiu-jitsu
academy. I do all my groundwork there, and then I train at Dynamic
Martial Arts under Vince Gentile and that's where I do all my stand-up
and cardio."

Heading into the fight, Buckland admits that Loiseau will have the
experience advantage, and a size advantage as well.

"He's going to be a lot bigger than me physically," he admits. "I walk
around at pretty much 185 pounds so he's going to have the advantage
of being bigger, but I'm a strong 185 so we'll see what happens. It
should be interesting."

At least Buckland will have the hometown crowd behind him, right?

Not necessarily, he says.

"I like fighting here," Buckland explains. "It's good to have the
support, but when he fought here last time, he had a lot of support
too just from being recognized from fighting in the UFC. He had a huge
ovation when he came out, so it's not like I'll have a huge advantage
that way. A lot of people like that guy. He's one of the best fighters
to ever come out of Canada."

Still, the tough carpenter says he's ready to put his hands to work on
"The Crow".

"I asked for this fight," he says. "They didn't offer him. Mentally,
I'm prepared because I'm going into a win-win situation. It's going to
be a fun fight for me. I'm going in there and whatever happens,
happens. There's no pressure, so it's a great situation for me. To
beat him would be amazing - but just to fight him is a great
opportunity. It's an honor to fight that guy."

So what's the strategy?

"I'm going for a fast knockout." Buckland explains. "I can't go in
there and wait for him to do what he does. I have to push him. If I
let him take control, that's bad. When he's on the defense, backing
up, he fights worse."

Of course, Loiseau has no plans of backing up.

"I'm a veteran, a former champion and this is my job," he says. "I'm
not getting caught up in the hype. He's from Calgary. I'm from
Montreal. I don't care about that hype. I'm about getting the job

"I'm just going out there and performing," he continues. "I predict
myself dominating, imposing my style. I'm not talking smack. He's a
very game opponent. He comes in to fight but I'm ready to do my job
and my job is to destroy him. Right now, I just eat, sleep, breathe
Andrew Buckland and he should be scared of that."



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