Raw Combat holds a rare dual distinction as both a pioneer in mixed martial arts history and an innovator in the modern landscape of the sport.
Created by businessman Dave Feser, the Canadian event first appeared on the scene when MMA fighting was still in its infancy and considered a controversial spectacle. With politicians in both Canada and the U.S.A hard at work banning "no holds barred" fighting, the first show was forced underground. Held July 26, 1997, the inaugural Raw Combat saw some of the top talent from both countries gather on the outskirts of Vancouver, B.C. to match their skills. In the main event, Ultimate Fighting Championships veteran Jason Fairn was defeated by Bob Gilstrap, an American kickboxer who himself went on to compete in the octagon the next year. Like Gilstrap, many of the fighters from the first show went on to fight in larger events including the UFC, King of The Cage, World Extreme Cagefighting, Japanese Shooto and International Vale Tudo in Brazil. With so many athletes making the move to these distinguished organizations, Raw Combat was an important spring board for fighters in the early days of the sport.
Despite the success of the first event for both promoters and combatants, mounting political pressure forced the show into a hiatus that would last over ten years. Hanging up his gloves for nearly a decade, Feser moved his focus to working with fighters and developing a gym. Still, even while focused on other projects Feser knew that, though Raw Combat was down, it was not out for the count. All it needed was a spark to re-ignite the flame. That spark came in the form of an unexpected phone call from a fellow Canadian.
As one of the original business partners in Hardcore Fighting Championships, Dave Houshiar had developed a deep appreciation and understanding of the sport. After the final HCF show in March of 2008, he was determined to prove that his days as an MMA promoter were far from over. Recognizing the immense potential that Raw Combat presented, he contacted Feser and the two developed a plan to bring the event back to life.
June 20, 2008 that plan became reality as "Raw Combat: Resurrection" hit the Max Bell Centre in Calgary, Alberta. The first Raw Combat event in over 10-years filled the stadium and gave fight fans their money's worth with eleven exciting matches. With veterans of the UFC, Pride, WEC, KOTC and other events on the card, the second Raw Combat event reaped the rewards of the sport the first show helped to create. With mixed martial arts prospering in every corner of the globe, the City of Calgary’s Athletic Commission sanctioned Raw Combat’s second effort. In the main event, top-ranked welterweight Dan "The Handler" Hornbuckle defeated Canada's Nabil "The Thrill" Khatib for the Raw 170-pound title, while the semi-main event saw former UFC middleweight title contender David "The Crow" Loiseau knock out Calgary fighter Andrew Buckland for the five thousand dollar "KO of The Night" award. The undercard was equally stacked, brimming with fighters from Canada, Brazil and the United States.
Now, with their feet beneath them and their hands raised in victory, the promoters of Raw Combat are ready to enter the world of mixed martial arts again. With events planned in both Canada and the United States, and champions already crowned in two weight divisions, the future looks bright for the organization that has already made such an impact on the sport.