June 24th, 2024

Local MMA competitor named female fighter of the year

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 4, 2023.

Submitted photo Lethbridge fighter Shannon Clark has recently been named the Canadian Mixed Martial Arts female fighter of the year.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

She got her kicks playing soccer for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns and now Shannon Clark is using her feet and hands in a different sporting endeavour.

While hands are off-limits on the soccer pitch, they’re a major part of Clark’s arsenal in mixed martial arts where the Lethbridge fighter was just named the Canadian Mixed Martial Arts female fighter of the year. Melissa Crowden of the Crownest Pass was a runner-up.

The 30-year-old Clark, who last played for the Pronghorns in the 2014-15 season, is quickly making a name for herself in the professional ranks of mixed martial arts.

After three amateur bouts, Clark made her pro debut on Oct. 1 at Unified Mixed Martial Arts Rumble in the Cage 63 in Lethbridge, beating veteran Jackie MacLean of Kelowna by a technical knockout at the 1:50 mark of the third round.

On Dec. 17 in Unified 49 at River Cree Resort and Casino, she stopped Jo Maisonneuve of Ottawa at the five minute mark of the second round.

Those two wins followed three victories in the amateur ranks where she made her debut in October 2019.

Heading into the new year, Clark is ranked third of 20 female fighters pound-for-pound in Western Canada and sixth of 34 in Canada by the Tapology website.

Clark signed a contract with Unified here in December.

“In my off-seasons I did kick-boxing to stay in shape and then after uni, I just trained more and then it was like I still had that competitive side of me” so she decided to try one fight to see if she was good enough to compete, said Clark Tuesday.

“That led to three amateurs then it led to two pros so far and a contract,” said Clark.

A mother of two who has a full-time job in Lethbridge, Clark will make her home base here. Her contract requires her to do two fights this year with Unified “then I’ll see if I can make it bigger or not,” she said.

“Unified is probably the biggest in Canada,” she said of MMA organizations. “I was actually their first female in Canada to sign with them…it’s pretty cool.”

Clark trains several hours every day on top of working and taking care of her babies.

“It’s a busy life but we get it done,” said Clark who mainly trains at Canadian Martial Arts Centre here.

Clark says she doesn’t know how many more Canadians will fight her; she expects Unified to perhaps bring up Americans to take her on.

Clark had no experience in martial arts before embarking on her fighting career.

Clark has no fights scheduled soon and doesn’t expect to face an opponent until spring. She wanted to take a couple of months off and is training right now to learn more about her craft.

“Right now I’m just training to learn,” she added with her efforts focused on her technique and getting in shape.

“I need to enhance my skills and get more knowledge,” Clark said with her goal to fight again in April or May which depends on the date of Unified’s next card.

Unified, according to its website, has staged 47 events since it was started in 2009.

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