Timmins mixed martial artist Terry ‘Good Time’ Lemaire has returned home with a big win under his belt from a competition last weekend in Alabama.
The 31-year-old Lemaire was on the card for Strikehard Productions 57 which was held in the city of Northport, near Tuscaloosa on Nov. 7. It was his first bout in nearly a year and a half.
This week, one year ago, he was supposed to be heading to Singapore to compete with Team Canada at the Global Association of Mixed Martial Arts World Championships when a frightening incident occurred at home.
“My wife fell terribly ill. She went into ketoacidosis overnight and was in a coma,” said Lemaire who stayed home to care for her.
For this fight, he only had approximately three weeks’ notice to get everything in order to compete in Alabama, but his conditioning wasn't going to be an issue.
“We signed everything and made it official about two weeks before the fight, but I was training all year. I was staying ready. I wasn't taking a chance on missing anything. I was always in the gym. Every day. In the morning. At night,” he said.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re ready all the time.”
He trains out of Total Martial Arts Center on Spruce Street South.
His coach, Matt Poulin, has been working with Lemaire for nearly 12 years now.
“For about the last year, we’ve been hounding every promotion in Canada and the States, just to get our names in there,” said Poulin.
“We just kept doing our thing, and after Thanksgiving, they finally got back to him and invited him out to the card.”
Poulin was unable to join Lemaire for this trip.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting nearly every aspect of society in one way or another, the process of getting a Canadian fighter across the U.S. border, registered, tested, and cleared was not the easiest task to accomplish.
Lemaire said, “It was pretty nerve-wracking.”
“That was really the challenging part,” added Poulin.
Lemaire said he tried to stress the urgency to get his approvals completed in time for the event.
“I only had two weeks, and I mentioned to them that I needed to know ASAP, because this is Timmins, Ont., not Toronto, and I don't get blood work in a day,” said Lemaire.
In order to compete in Alabama, each fighter was required to have their blood tested for serious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Thankfully, Lemaire got his results back the day before he was scheduled to fly out.
Despite not be able to join Lemaire, Poulin was still working hard behind the scenes.
“We found him a corner man that was going to be there,” said Poulin.
Lemaire was joined on the trip by friend Nathan Hewitt from North Bay. While any familiar faces and support are appreciated, Lemaire was just happy to be back in the cage.
“I've fought in Thailand with a corner man that I couldn't even understand,” he recalled with a laugh.
“It wasn't a huge deal for me — as long as you’re mentally ready and mentally strong. I was ready to go in there without a corner man.”
Lemaire normally competes in the bantamweight category (135 pounds) but this particular fight against Alabama native Travis Hill was at featherweight (145 pounds).
Poulin explained, “All year, since January, he was staying low in his walk-around weight, but after Thanksgiving, he said he was going to enjoy himself for a little bit, and he got a little bigger than he normally was, and he got the call for the fight on short notice, so we had to move up a weight class.”
It turned out be a fairly easy transition for Lemaire, and a successful bout against Hill ensued.
“It went exactly how we planned. Me and my coach noticed that he liked to shoot on you, and pick up your kicks, and try to take you down. We weren’t too worried about his boxing or his standup, it didn't look too crisp,” explained Lemaire.
“I wanted to get the K.O. (knockout). That was the plan, but we wanted to make sure we utilized distance, and keep my jab out there, and really beat up that leg with leg kicks and just watch out for that takedown.”
Back in Timmins, Poulin and many other locals were watching the bout live on a Pay-Per-View stream.
“First round, he was landing his strikes, but then the guy went for a takedown and Terry went for one of his signature submission moves, but the guy managed to survive it and get on top for a bit, and try to get him with his submission move,” said Poulin. “So on paper, Terry lost the first round.”
On that takedown in the first round, Lemaire came very close to ending the fight with a manoeuvre known as a guillotine choke.
“I thought that was it man. It was in actually. It was tight. He was gurgling. But he was a tough farm boy. He would not give up,” said Lemaire.
After the three five-minute rounds, Lemaire was announced as the winner by judge’s decision.
“Three rounds of picking him apart. I felt he wasn’t any better than me on the ground. I thought I had the advantage everywhere actually.”
Poulin said, “He came back, and his striking and wrestling just dominated the last two rounds.”
The venue in Northport normally holds approximately 3,500 spectators but seating was limited to 500.
Lemaire said, “I wasn't too worried about it. I would have liked no fans. It would have been a lot less pressure after a year and a half.
“It’s a different atmosphere when there’s nobody in there.”
He had to go through a COVID test on weigh-in day before the fight. Alabama is a state that has been struggling with case numbers, which was a concern Lemaire had going into the trip.
“Their numbers are pretty bad. I’m not going to lie. I was careful. I brought my sani-pack with me with all these sanitizing products. I brought sanitizing wipes. In the plane, I wiped everything down before I even sat down. I had my mask on the whole time in the plane and the airport,” he said.
Lemaire said it was pretty startling to see how deserted Toronto’s usually bustling Pearson International Airport was.
“It was a ghost town. It was crazy to see.”
In a short clip of the bout which has been shared on social media platforms, Lemaire asked Hill in the middle of grappling on the ground if he was “having a good time.”
“It was fun in there. I knew I was running away with it. He was shit talking me the whole time too. It was funny to see. So I figured I would throw a little good time in there.”
After the fight, there was a big reaction from friends and family back home.
“Yeah it was awesome to see. My phone was just blowing up. Instead of seeing Joe Biden on there, they're seeing Terry Good Time.”
“I can’t thank them enough for supporting me.”
The win makes it six straight for Lemaire; four in pro MMA bouts, and two in pro Muay Thai bouts. His stock is rising.
“The promoter was very adamant that if I pick up a few more wins, they could get me on Dana White's Contender Series,” said Lemaire.
Dana White is of course the ubiquitous face of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the Contender Series is a minor league of sorts for that promotion to find new and upcoming talent.
Lemaire turned plenty of heads in Alabama, and is now in the process of signing with an American-based manager, which could open some major doors for him.
“We’re just ironing out some details. He was just so impressed with my performance in the cage, and just who I am as a person. He said, ‘I want to manage you. I want you to get to the top.’”
Poulin called Lemaire’s win over Hill, a highly ranked fighter in Alabama, as “insane” and “mind-blowing” and feels the sky is the limit for him.
“Big, big win. There’s a lot of buzz about him right now.”
Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press