LETHBRIDGE – The physical toll of fighting shows on Canmore's Travis Erlam's body: two black eyes, a bruised knee, and soreness all over.
The damage the amateur mixed martial arts fighter endured happened Saturday (Oct. 1), when he lost by technical knockout (punches) in round three of a middleweight (185 lbs.) bout against Cal Kostiniuk at Rumble in the Cage 63 in Lethbridge.
Banged up, the jiu-jitsu black belt is now 1-1 in MMA and reported no serious injuries. And although Saturday night didn't go his way, Erlam is grateful to test his abilities and isn’t ruling out a return to the cage.
“There’s always a chance,” said the 36-year-old, who trains locally at Dark Horse Martial Arts.
“[I] need to heal up, talk with the team and see if we want to pull together for another camp.”
In the opening seconds of Saturday’s fight, Kostiniuk, known as a striker, dropped his hands, leaned forward and seemingly mouthed ‘come on’ to the Canmore fighter. Erlam stepped forward and landed a straight right and bloodied Kostiniuk’s nose.
After a short burst of punches and dirty boxing, the two jockeyed for position along the cage for nearly two minutes before breaking off and exchanging punches. Erlam shot for a takedown, but it was blocked and he clinched the Lethbridge fighter. A quick striking exchange ended the round.
“That straight right I landed at the very beginning apparently broke his nose and he fought like he was unaffected, which is just incredible,” said Erlam.
In the second round, Kostiniuk came out hot, swinging bombs at Erlam's dome. A right hook connected in the first 10 seconds, sending Erlam crashing down to the mat. Although Erlam recovered enough to defend himself, the blow was a fight-changing moment.
“After that, I couldn’t get my wits back," said Erlam. "Nothing felt right and it seemed as though I was fighting in slow motion."
From his back, Erlam managed to trip his opponent with a double ankle pick. As Kostiniuk fell, he grabbed the fence instinctively to break his fall – albeit illegal – which received no warning from the ref. Erlam worked from guard and blocked blows being rained down on his head. Kostiniuk tried to take Erlam’s back, but couldn’t hang on and slipped off.
Erlam briefly ended up in full mount – one of the best positions to be in – before being tossed back in guard. Erlam attempted a triangle choke submission from his back and was receiving punches for his effort. The grinding second round came to an end with Erlam pressing Kostiniuk against the cage.
And after six minutes of non-stop action, the toll of the fight was setting in.
Kostiniuk came out swinging again in the third but nothing major landed. Erlam, a grappler, dropped down into a more favourable ground position. As Kostiniuk came in, Erlam scooted up and pushed him against the cage. However, the Lethbridge striker got Erlam to the ground again, but this time, backed away from the black belt and motioned with his hands for Erlam to get up off the mat.
After the brief pause in action, Erlam immediately shot in but had nothing left in the gas tank. Bent over looking for a single leg takedown, Erlam took a few hammerfist blows to the side of the head and fell to the mat and the ref waved off the fight.
After the bout, Erlam, sitting on the ground, shared a moment with his corner men.
The local fighter said his opponent was “strong, tough and durable”, and also a “super nice” guy.
“We talked backstage and had a couple laughs together,” Erlam said.
In Saturday’s main event, Josh Kwiatkowski defeated Tim Tamaki by unanimous decision, winning RITC’s featherweight (145 lbs.) title.