By Woodard, Dale on December 6, 2019.
Cody Jerome’s mixed marital arts pro career is off to a good start.
And the 23-year-old from Lethbridge who trains out of the Progressive Fighting Academy has a high honour to show for it.
Making his pro MMA debut, Jerome was the winner of a Four-Man Muay Thai tournament – the first of its kind in Canada and first ever WBC Muay Thai event in Canada – last Saturday at the Seven Chiefs Sports Complex on the Tsuu T’ina Nation, outside of Calgary.
Facing Lance Dixon of Los Angeles in the final, Jerome scored the decision to win the inaugural event.
“That was my pro debut, so that was a big step in my career,” said Jerome. “That was amazing. It got me a lot of exposure and it was an awesome start to my pro career, for sure.”
That sets him to up to go for the WBC Canadian title in April, but Saturday’s win also earned Jerome not only a $3,000 cash prize, but a Blackfoot Traditional Sioux Warriors headdress, created by Lloyd MacDonald of the Siksika Nation.
The headdress, which took 72 hours to complete, was blessed by the elders of Tsuu T’ina Nation and must be presented by a chief.
A warrior would win a feather for every courageous act with the feathers presented by the elders until the warrior had enough to create a headdress. The headdress was voted on by a chief and council of Tsuu T’ina that the tournament was sufficient for the winner to have earned enough feathers.
As the winner of the event and the headdress, Jerome not only ensures that only he gets to wear the prize, but that it also stays in Blackfoot Territory.
He did that in a win over Dixon in the final, his first look at the American fighter.
“He’s a very tough guy, a power puncher,” said Jerome. “I managed to avoid those punches and landed some good shots of my own.”
The Four-Man Muay Thai event was started by Kieran Keddle, a promoter from Muay Thai World Cup, who is originally from England and now lives in Calgary.
“There’s been a lot of talent in Canada for Muay Thai,” said Jerome. “We didn’t have very many pro opportunities and Kieran came from England and started this up.”
The tournament was a two-fight format.
“You win the first one and then you advance to the final,” said Jerome, who defeated Cody Laskar from Ottawa in his first bout.
“He’s another tough guy, he’s got more of a Thai style,” said Jerome. “He like to clinch and throw elbows, but I managed to avoid those elbows and landed some good shots of my own.”
Getting ready for his professional debut, Jerome put in his time at the Progressive Fighting Academy with coach Brad Wall.
“We really prepared for this one, training camp was awesome,” he said. “We were going there to win for sure.”
Jerome’s last amateur fight was in Havre, Montana on June 15.
After a successful amateur career that took him all over North America, Jerome and Wall decided it was time to move up in the ranks.
“I had a good, successful amateur career,” said Jerome, who got started in MMA when he was 15 and had his first fight when he was 16.
The WBC Canadian title in April – which will also take place at the Seven Chiefs Sports Complex in Tsuu T’ina Nation – is circled on Jerome’s calendar. But the 23-year-old has a hometown appearance next when he takes part in Fight Night 12 at the Enmax Centre Jan. 25, facing Zack George for the Fight Night Kick Boxing title.
In the meantime, it’s back to work for Jerome and his crew.
“It’s six days a week, twice a day,” said Jerome. “I have a lot of people around me that make it a lot easier, my family and my whole team. Without them it would be very tough.”
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