Believe or not, Ottawa is a hotbed for Canadian Muay Thai talent.
If this surprises you, I don’t blame you. The metres-high snowdrifts and –35 degree weather (before wind chill) doesn’t make me immediately think of a sport that originates from the tropical paradise of Thailand…
But, maybe there’s something about the bone-chilling winters that forces fighters into the gym? Whatever it is, it’s working, because some of Ottawa’s own are fighting on the biggest Muay Thai bills across the world. The likes of Ashley Nichols, Taylor McClatchie, Robert Thomas, and Gram Stuart, among so many others, are helping to make Ottawa the capital for Canadian Muay Thai. However, before these fighters hit the world stage, they tore it up at local events–like the Art of War series.
Art of War III: Muay Thai at the Museum is Ottawa’s biggest and baddest annual Muay Thai event. Taking place this Saturday, February 23rd, the event’s third edition will feature some of North America’s best fighters. Sacha Hijazi’s CapCity Promotions continues to attract some of the best talent from across the country and south of the border. This year’s card is stacked with “A” and “Open Class” matchups, meaning you’ll have the chance see Canadian national team fighters, as well as athletes who have fought on top promotions across the globe.
I’m a Muay Thai nerd, so I’m pretty hyped for the entire card, including the main event between Zack Baldwin and Dan Sopa for the 60kg Muay Thai Ontario championship. However, there are two fights in particular that I can’t wait to see.
The first is the 75kg bout between Ottawa’s Cody Laskar, from Westside Muay Thai, and Adam Edgerton from Louisville, Kentucky’s Real Fighters gym. Edgerton has over 60 fights under his belt. Laskar is a household name in Ottawa, having fought in arguably the most famous Muay Thai venue of all time, Lumpinee Stadium in Thailand. These are big, technical dudes who should maintain a high (and frighteningly powerful) pace for the whole fight.
The second is the 54kg clash between Morgane Pouliot, of Montreal’s Apex Gym, and Natalie Liberatore from Ottawa’s New Era gym. Pouliot is the reigning Montreal Fight League 54kg champ, while Liberatore has competed at Ontario Provincials and on top cards in Toronto. In my opinion, this fight’s clash of styles–Pouliot’s toughness and power against Liberatore’s technique and suite of combinations–make this a candidate for best fight of the night.
Other than the stacked card… If you’ve been to previous Art of War events, you’ll know exactly why this is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. I’m guessing you already have your tickets.
Now, let’s say you haven’t been to a combat sports—let alone a Muay Thai—event. Here’s why your first should be Art of War III:
- It happens in one of the coolest venues in Ottawa. With the ring centered in the War Museum’s stunning LeBreton Gallery, fighters are flanked by World War II-era artillery and a CF-101 Voodoo fighter jet. The setup is pretty amazing and makes for an absolutely electric atmosphere (not to mention, some pretty awesome Instagram moments). Want a glimpse into last year’s event? Take a look here.
- It’s something different to do! Tired of the same old, same old in Ottawa? Give this a shot. It’s unique, it’s interactive, and it supports Ottawa athletes who pour hundreds and hundreds of hours into their sport. It’s also a short Uber ride away from Chinatown, Vieux-Hull, Centretown and the rest of Ottawa-Hull’s nightlife, so you can easily keep the night going after the fights.
- It’s a good-ass time. It’s just a blast. Drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are good, the crowd gets into it, and it’s exciting. Fights start at 7pm and go until 11pm, so you can mosey in and out anytime between then, but, I have a feeling you’ll be glued to the action once you walk in.
Finally, like I said last year, if my pitch hasn’t been enough to convince you that Art of War III should be in your plans for this coming Saturday, maybe Sacha’s best Ric Flair impression will. WOOOO!
Art of War III: Muay Thai at the Museum is happening at the Canadian War Museum (1 Vimy Dr.) on Saturday February 23, 2019. Tickets cost $35–65 online or at participating Muay Thai gyms across Ottawa. Doors open at 6pm, fights start at 7pm and run until 11pm.