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NTT MS Bike Ride

Niagara Top Team Raises Over $6000 for MS Research and Awareness

Niagara Top Team Raises Over $6000 For MS

When Niagara Top Team member Matthew Redmond approached NTT co-owner Chris Prickett with an idea to possibly do some type of fundraising for Multiple Sclerosis, Prickett jumped on the opportunity.

Multiple Sclerosis, or more commonly known as MS, is a progressive disease of the nervous system, something that Redmond’s mother, Judith, as been struggling with for 20 years.

On Sunday, Niagara Top Team members completed a bike ride around the city under the umbrella of the MS Bike Program to raise funds for MS research and awareness.

“We thought it was a great cause and we couldn’t be happier with the turnout and we look forward to continuing to do this as an annual event.” Prickett said.

MS affects different people in different ways and to different degrees, and Redmond says that his mother sometimes loses feeling in her legs and it’s difficult for her to walk.

He added that growing up he would have to sometimes push her in a wheelchair, and that helping her in any way is very important to him.

“Every little bit I can do to help my mom and any others that have Multiple Sclerosis I’ll do my best because my mom has done a lot for me and everyone else and she’s just the nicest lady. Every little bit helps.”

Redmond was initially hoping to raise $3000, but so far that has been more than doubled.

“It keeps climbing. It’s at over $6000 right now so that’s pretty awesome.”

He added that Niagara Top Team has a family environment that he loves.

“They’re just the best people.”

As for his mother’s reaction to the bike ride’s turnout and success, he says that she’s so very grateful for all of the support and is looking forward to next year.

“Honestly, it brought her joy, and seeing her yesterday interacting with everyone it was awesome to see.”

If you would like to donate to this wonderful cause, you can do so by CLICKING HERE

NTT’s Chovancek and Popowick-Bastien Victorious at BTC 16

NTT's Chovancek and Popowick-Bastien Victorious at BTC 16
Cody Chovancek BTC 16

By Brian Appel

What a night of fights in Burlington last night!

It was the first of the BTC Challenger Series, and it did not disappoint.

Cody Chovancek was the main event and what a fight it was.

This was a high action, high pace bout that allowed Cody to display how well rounded he is. Cody attacked the lead leg of his opponent early in the first round and remained super defensively responsible as his opponent was moving forward throwing huge shots. As Cody gained an advantage on the feet his opponent began to shoot in for takedowns. Cody made defending them look easy scoring a takedown of his own more times than not. Cody’s opponent is known as a submission artist and every attempt he made Cody was already a step ahead shutting down the attempt early on, including a massive slam late in the second as his opponent was looking for what appeared to be a standing guillotine. Headed into the third Cody was clearly up 2 rounds and the third was no different. Cody was absolutely dominant against a tough opponent and took the UD 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

KPop BTC 16

Kevin Popowick-Bastien put on a performance that was as close to perfect as you can get. He pressured his opponent while maintaining his own range. He showcased his ability to get in land some big shots and get right back out again receiving little to no damage. Kevin was able to get his opponent to the ground where he quickly made his way to the back and relentlessly attacked for a finish which eventually came at 4:08 of the first round, RNC finish. HARD WORK!

Luke Roberts was supposed to fight as well, made weight and was ready to rock. Unfortunately 10am fight day he found out his opponent pulled out.

Cody Chovancek Leads NTT Fighters Into Battle At BTC 16 Challenger Series 1

Cody Chovancek - Photo by Andy Cotterill
Cody Chovancek Leads NTT Fighters Into Battle At BTC 16 Challenger Series 1

Niagara Top Team’s Cody Chovancek is in a position that would be enviable to any seasoned mixed martial artist, let alone one so young.

The 23-year-old Featherweight will be competing at BTC 16 ‘Challenger Series 1’ on Saturday night as one half of the main event fight, where he an opponent Jake Geauvreau will be pitting their matching 2-0 professional records against the other, with only one of them emerging still undefeated.

One might look at this matchup between two highly touted up-and-comers and wonder if this pairing might be a bit too early in their careers, but BTC matchmaker Rob Veevers explained the rationale.

“When we added the two Challenger Series cards to our schedule this year, the purpose was to provide additional opportunity to the lower record athletes. The focus was on athletes with roughly 4-5 fights or less.

Cody versus Jake was a fight I tried to put together on BTC 14 but one of the teams wasn’t ready for the match up at the time. At BTC 15 during Cody’s post fight interview he called Jake out. Here we have two of the brightest prospects in Canada going head to head. It was instantly a great main event for the Challenger Series. These two guys deserve the spot light and I think we’re all in for a treat July 9th in Burlington.”

Chovancek, for one, is thrilled to have the opportunity.

“That’s awesome to hear Rob say that, that’s really cool, and I’m just as excited as he is on that one.” Chovancek stated. “It’s a huge honour to be in the main event in only my third pro fight with so many talented guys on the card.”

He explains the reason why he called out Geauvreau during that interview.

“I was supposed to fight him for my pro debut and my second fight. The first time I signed and he pulled out to injury and I don’t know what happened the second time whether they just said no or not. He didn’t have any amateur fights, he went straight into Pro, so that says something right there. That takes balls in itself. It’s nothing but respect for him. But this is the fight…that’s why I called him out. This is the fight to make happen. We’re both 2 and 0. There’s a reason why it’s main event. We both have a 100% finish rating so it’s gonna be a big fight. I’m excited for it.”

Chovancek acknowledged that in order for him to best display his skill he needs an opponent that can push him…beating up a tomato can doesn’t even look good on paper to those that know.

“I think this fight is a perfect fight to showcase my skillset and to show how good I am in all martial arts; wrestling, jiu jitsu, striking. He’s a well rounded fighter and I’m a well rounded fighter so it’s gonna be a good fight. This is a fight that really gets me up and ready to go out of bed in the morning, you know, and it fires me up. I’ve just been thinking about this fight nonstop. It’s gonna be huge for my career.”

In addition to this fight Chovancek should be excited. Away from the main-event cage under the spotlight he spends every day surrounded by the people and the environment that he feels will help him attain his ultimate goal of competing inside of a top-tier fight promotion like Bellator, the UFC, or ONE.

Those people and that environment are known collectively as Niagara Top Team.

“I don’t know what I would do without this gym to be honest.” Chovancek said.

“I think it’s grown me exponentially as a fighter being with all these other high level fighters and guys that are like-minded and just as motivated as I am to be the best and to get as much out of this sport as we can. And that’s what Chris (Coach Chris Prickett) says all the time, he’s like, ‘You’re gonna reach your full potential if you’re all in instead of being half in and half out like some guys.’ and this gym really helps you do that.”

For this fight Chovancek feels especially prepared, as an influx of great sponsors has allowed him the privilege of a full fight camp without having to work construction at the same time.

“Other fight camps I’ve had to do carpentry full time and then train full time too, so that was a major stressor. This time I was able to focus 100% on my training and it’s made a huge difference. I’m fully committed and it feels good.”

At BTC 16 Chovancek will be joined by his NTT Teammates Kevin Popowick-Bastien who will be taking on Charles Azoulay, and Luke Roberts, who is matched up with Nicky Heinrichs.

Will the three of them be able to make this weekend yet another NTT clean sweep?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but regardless of the outcome, Niagara Top Team has seen them train with 100% focus and intensity every day, every week, and every month, and we’re proud of what they’ve accomplished in their own personal fighter journey.

BTC 16 ‘Challenger Series 1’ takes place on Saturday July 9th 2022 in Burlington, Ontario. If you’d like to support our athletes there will be tickets available at the door, or you can buy the online HERE.

Cody Chovancek is sponsored by: Proactive Specialized Logistics, Pete Smith Crane, Niagara Fish Assassins, Dr. Faisal Rehman, Judy Jewels, Let’s End MS, DLB Electric, Durston Construction, USG Gear

NTT 04 Jun 22

Another 3-0 Weekend for Niagara Top Team

Another 3-0 Weekend for Niagara Top Team

Jarred Dumond (top left), Clayton Pye (bottom), Vinny Dias (right)

This past Saturday night was another big one for Niagara Top Team, with three of our fantastic athletes competing, and all three coming out with their hands raised.

Vinny Dias, Jarred Dumond, and Clayton Pye all dominated their opponents in true NTT style. All three victories were special and wonderful for each fighter in their own way.

Dias defeated a skilled and durable Albaraa Atmeh to claim the BTC Bantamweight Tournament Final, in which he had to win three fights over several months. This victory cements Dias as one of the best Bantamweights in Canada, and the $10,000 prize doesn’t hurt either.

Leaving his amateur career behind him, Jarred Dumond needed just 3 minutes to dispatch foe Broderick Rene and claim victory in his first ever professional fight, also at BTC 15. Jarred’s dedication and focus in preparing himself not just for this fight, but for a successful MMA career is unrivaled.

Finally, the fans at Scorpion Kombat saw former Brock Wrestler turned mixed martial artist Clayton Pye serve notice to every other Middleweight out there that he is not someone to mess with. He scooped up his roughly 200-lb opponent over and over and over, slamming him back into the mat to earn a unanimous decision.

Pye probably hasn’t even had time to wash his fight shorts yet, but has already announced his next fight, a clash with Adam Sproule at Montreal Fight League 22 on June 25th in Montreal.

The coaches, fighters, and members of Niagara Top Team are all incredibly proud of our athletes!

Next up is Jo Colette who will be competing in muay Thai on June 11th, followed by Jasmine Jasudavicius at the UFC Fight Night on June 18th, then Aaron Jeffery making his Bellator debut on June 24th.

NTT Observe

A Fighter Is Never Alone

A Fighter Is Never Alone

Coach Chris Prickett heading wrestling class at NTT. Photo by Andy Cotterill

By Brian Appel

Log on.

Scroll.

FIGHT NEWS!

Your fighter has a new fight.

LETS GOOOO!

The hype begins.

It could be days, could be weeks out, but you’re excited now.

You begin watching the opponent’s previous fights and do your own breakdowns, seeing where the holes might be and where your fighter has the upper hand.

Fight week and you secure your pay per view.

The weigh ins are live.

You tune in and congratulate your fighter for making weight like a true champion. You’re proud of your fighter and can’t wait to watch them make their walk to the cage.

“FIGHTING OUT OF THE RED CORNER…”

Edge of your seat.

“FIGHTER ARE YOU READY? FIGHTER ARE YOU READY?”

You hold your breath.

“FIGHT!”

Remind yourself to breath.

Every punch, every kick, every takedown you ROAR!

Score every round like you’re a judge.

Fight over.

You still remind yourself to breath.

You pull your phone out to record the final outcome.

Your fighter wins!

It feels like you won too, and if things don’t go their way it would have been a kick in the gut.

15 minutes.

15 minutes to show the world who you are. What you can do. Why you deserve to climb the rankings and break into the premier leagues.

Like any sport, success here is based not on just skill, but marketability and social following, and 15 minutes is not a lot of time to make an impression.

Good or bad, you could go viral either way, on repeat forever.

You crush a KO and you have the world at your feet, your foe does it and you’re last year’s news.

Fight night is over and most fans step away until the next event.

For some it’s much deeper than that.

Some very fortunate people are with their fighter in the trenches as well, in their own, special way.

In no way do I know what it’s like to be a fighter and I will never pretend to know, but from my family’s privileged position at a fighter gym let’s us observe close hand what they go through every day.

Watching them sweat, and bleed, and get ready for their next challenge.

The sacrifices they make.

Watching food intake down to single calories.

Multiple hard training sessions.

In the room while high caliber athletes are training is quite humbling.

Seeing the fatigue and the injuries and yet they continue to push themselves with every ounce of their being right to the end.

A gym family feeds off one another, pushes each other, complements one another.

When the physical part of training is over they discuss what they just worked, giving pointers, and offering to drill it out some more later in the day.

For a new fighter working their way through the ranks it’s not lucrative, just another sacrifice and struggle.

Sacrificing luxuries so they can train, taking whatever sparse fight opportunities that come their way and doing so for little pay, or none at all for amateurs.

Every like and share from a fan increases social media presence and helps to get sponsorships, even the most meager of which helps tremendously.

Being up close to witness the sacrifices, the struggles, the highs and the lows, has made us fans for more than the 15 minutes these athletes ply their trade… has made us fans for more than just the fighter. It has made us fans of the fighters as people.

The world can be extremely thankless sometimes, so I thank the athletes and coaches for allowing us to be witness to the training, the conversations, the inspiration to become a healthier, the advice, and most importantly for being positive role models for everyone that walks into their gym, young and old alike.

“Fighter are you ready?”

Niagara Top Team Adds Team Info Page

Niagara Top Team Adds Team Info Page
Niagara Top Team Info

Niagara Top Team is excited to unveil our new Team Info page!

The goal of this page is to be a one-stop shop for our members to look at upcoming events such as fights and competitions, and to get to know your favourite coaches and fighters a little bit better.

Try clicking on the Coach/Fight Team photos on the bottom of the page and see what happens!

Over the next few months this page will be expanding to include much more, so keep checking in to see what’s new!

Jasmine Jasudavicius - Photo by Andy Cotterill MM-eh.ca

Jasmine Jasudavicius – Eyes Wide Open

Jasmine Jasudavicius – Eyes Wide Open

By Andy Cotterill

Niagara Top Team’s Female Flyweight Fenom (yes, I know, but I like alliteration) Jasmine Jasudavicius (7-1 MMA 1-0 UFC) put pen to paper on Wednesday and accepted a fight offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to face Brazil’s Natália Silva (12-5-1 MMA 0-0 UFC) at the UFC Fight Night scheduled for June 18th.

Jasudavicius signed the document in Las Vegas, which she knows well and calls a second home. She arrived several days ago in order to start her training camp at Syndicate MMA, where she also trained before her successful UFC debut against Kay Hansen.

The St. Catharines, Ontario born fighter thinks that her previous time in Vegas which includes several training camps and several important UFC wins will give her a leg up on her Brazilian opponent, who will be making her UFC debut, as well as fighting for the first time since December 2019 before COVID stopped the world.

“Yeah, obviously that brings great confidence.” Jasudavicius told me from her residence in Vegas before the first of her training sessions on Thursday.

“I’ve already fought at the Apex before so the comfort is there, whereas she’s coming all the way from Brazil, and I think that that’ll make a more significant difference for her.”

That being said, Jasudavicius knows that despite the uncertainty that accompanies most newcomers to the big city and the bright lights of the UFC, Silva is an experienced opponent who is sure to be game.

“I remember my UFC debut like it was yesterday, and yeah, it’s your most important fight and this will be hers.”

When a matchmaker puts two fighters together there are always questions to be asked, regardless if any great thought was put into that particular pairing or not. These same questions are also considered by the fighters themselves.

One of those questions is how will their respective strengths & weaknesses balance out? Fighter A is a great striker, so will fighter B be able to negate that strength with their excellent ground game? Or how about, Fighter A is a tough SOB with grit for days, but so is fighter B. Which one is tougher and grittier?

In the fight game those questions are always academic, to be answered only after fighter A or B has their hand raised at the end of the bout.

Regardless, trying to predict the outcome before it happens is an industry unto itself.

Jasudavicius is known for a confident and aggressive attitude in the cage that often has her dominating her opponent in a clinch, or smashing them into the canvas underneath them. This could potentially be a problem for her with Silva, who has displayed an affinity for arm bars, winning 5 of her last 6 fights in that manner. Fighters that specialize in armbars are usually adept at fending off their opponent’s downward attacks, then capitalizing on a small mistake.

But “Triple F” doesn’t think that will happen.

“I mean, I think she’s good, and I feel like at this level no matter what it’s gonna be a tough fight, but I think I’m matched up favorably and I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. I mean, I trained with some high level jits girls and I’m not getting caught in an arm bar. I’m not too worried about that.”

With this fight over two months away, Jasudavicius and her team have plenty of time to come up with their game plan, so allow us to reflect on the past for a moment.

During the fight week of her impressive UFC debut win over Kay Hansen at UFC 270 in January, fight fans came away knowing 2 things for certain; 1- Jasmine can fight, and 2- Jasmine absolutely loved every split second of her experience.

I asked her about the relentless grin that was on her face and the joy that she radiated during every public appearance.

She replied that he heeds the advice from the many people who find out at the end of their lives that they have regrets for not doing more, or not allowing themselves to live in the moment.

“I always make sure to really take in the moment because it’s going to be a short one. I’m already on my second fight, so I think it’s just important to take it all in and try to enjoy the moments that I have. When I’m old and gray I’m not going to be able to be fighting in a cage…yeah, enjoy it now.”

When I asked her if she had a favourite experience from the many she most suredly had that week, she didn’t hesitate.

“The walkout was really cool. When I was standing and they were greasing me up and checking me out I looked up and I could see like my name in the lights going around the stadium. That was a huge moment for me. I’ll never forget that moment…it was the best thing ever.”

NextGen Mar 22

NextGen BJJ Competition Review

NextGen BJJ Competition Review

Photo by Brian Appel

By Brian Appel

NextGen Niagara, what a weekend!

Niagara Top Team showed up in a big way. We seen many of the kids compete, many for the first time. Their attention to the wrestling and never giving up was awesome to see. No matter win or lose they made the coaches super proud with how they carried themselves.

The teens and adults were also there in full force representing the team extremely well, once again refusing defeat until that final horn sounded. Special mention to one of the teens Mathew. He was down on the scoreboard and never once gave up, he kept pushing and with 22 seconds left pulled off a beautiful Anaconda to win via sub.

There isn’t enough room in a post to praise everyone, but every single person that step on those mats over the weekend showed who and what Niagara Top Team is. Thank you to all the parents and teammates that came out to support and cheer on the athletes.

Proud NTT Members with their new belts awarded by Professor Jorge Britto

BJJ Promotions

BJJ Belt Promotions

Last night was a huge one for Niagara Top Team, as Professor Jorge Britto of Jiu Jitsu For Life Team awarded belt promotions to a handful of members, including NTT co-owners Matt DiMarcantonio, who received his coveted Black Belt, and Chris Prickett, who received his Brown Belt.

Also awarded belts were professional mixed martial artists Anthony Romero and Zack Powell, who earned their Black and Brown belts respectively.

Congratulations to all of our determined athletes who have put in countless hours on the mats and who are seeing the fruits of their labours…we’re proud of you all!

Ashley Nichols (left) and Alex Moher after a final hard training session on fight week. Moher was scheduled to fight but his opponent withdrew. (Photo by Andy Cotterill)

Ashley Nichols – The Road Not Taken

Ashley Nichols (left) and Alex Moher after a final hard training session on fight week. Moher was scheduled to fight but his opponent withdrew. (Photo by Andy Cotterill)

Niagara Top Team’s Ashley Nichols – The Road Not Taken

By Andy Cotterill

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

On a foundational level every human on earth shares the same experience. They exist. They breath. They love. They hurt.

But the way they experience these things are unique, to a degree. Everyone has a story, and although these stories can fall in to broad categories, it is a combination of a myriad of individual experiences that make us different from each other.

For mixed martial artist Ashley Nichols, her story will bring her to the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino Event Center in Niagara Falls, NY on Friday night, where she will step into a cage in front of hundreds of spectators and go to war.

Her journey started when she was 14 and her mother made that normal parental act of getting her child involved in a sport. For Nichols that first sport was boxing, which she started and stopped off and on for several years.

Her path in fighting could very well have stopped for good there, had it not been for her being exposed to the combat sport of Muay Thai, the cultural component of which resonated with her indigenous roots. She is of the Chippewa (Ojibwe), Oneida Nation, and Potowatami Tribes.

“When I learned that Muay Thai was more than just fighting, I decided that it was what I wanted to compete in.”

And compete she did, for years training in Thailand, traveling the world and fighting, culminating in a handful of World Championships.

In 2016 she decided to return to Canada where she would focus on a new challenge — mixed martial arts.

For the next few years she moved between a few different cites and a few different gyms, learning and growing as she did.

Then something strange happened.

One day she was reading an article about up-and-coming fighters and saw the name Jasmine Jasudavicius, who had just won a fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, then very soon after she was contacted by Jasudavicius and her coach Chris Prickett and invited to join them at Niagara Top Team to train.

So Nichols and her training partner Kevin Popowick got in their car and made the 6-hour drive from Ottawa to St. Catharines, and after two great weeks, both Nichols and Popowick decided to make a permanent move.

“I trained at a lot of different gyms before finally getting to Niagara Top Team and now the rest is history…I’m training with the best team in Canada.”

Nichols says that the physical challenges of training with so many high calibre athletes is of course beneficial for her growth, but it was the mental component that she realized she had been lacking.

“Once I got here it was like everyone is training for a fight. I hadn’t fought in 3 years, and I had gotten kind of complacent with having the competitiveness; pushing myself, going through the motions in training, wheras here I was encouraged to bring the competitiveness. We’re going to compete as we train and that’s what I realized was the difference.”

So now the training is over and it’s almost time to fight, and regardless of the outcome, Nichols is calm in the knowledge that by getting inside that cage the shield and sword of her own reality will not deceive the work she has done.

She is ready to connect with her warrior ancestors. She is ready to connect with her spirit, her mind, and her heart in an empowering way, and ready to be an inspiration for indigenous peoples and communities.