“Dream big,” he says to Native youth
While Saturday night was bustling with excitement as anxious mixed martial arts fans awaited the Ultimate Fighting Championship 236 main event fights Santos vs. Jones and Nunes vs. Holm, another fight on the preliminary card in the Welterweight division between Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre and Ismail Naurdiev, gained a great deal of attention in Indian Country and on social media.
Hailing from Pawhuska, Oklahoma, Rencountre is of the Osage and Cheyenne River Sioux Nations and is one of the few professional Native American mixed martial artists competing in UFC.
In an interview with Cageside Press on July 5, Rencountre talked about his nickname and its significance.
“It’s actually my native name. I’m Osage and Cheyenne River Sioux so it comes from my tribal name. It’s Wah-Zhi-Zha-Pe and that translates to the black part of the eagle, so all the elders told me to translate it to Black Eagle. That’s where I got that from. I take that warrior spirit in there with me,” said Rencountre.
The much anticipated UFC International Fight Week 2019 took place from July 3-7 in Las Vegas, culminating in Saturday night’s pay-per-view event, UFC 239. Preliminary events were broadcast on ESPN, and included Rencountre’s bout.
Leading up the fight, there were numerous posts on social media encouraging and supporting Rencountre.
“We support you Chance! You make Native Americans proud. You are a warrior,” wrote one fan.
Going into the highly anticipated event, Rencountre entered the octagon with a 13-3 record and was billed the underdog against the highly-regarded Austrian fighter who had a 18-2 record and was the night’s second favorite with 6-1 odds.
The day before, at ceremonial weigh-ins, Rencountre stepped on stage and on the scale carrying the blue flag depicting the Great Seal of the Osage Nation. He weighed in at 170.5 lbs, with his opponent at 171 lbs.
The next day, the bright lights shined as a song from Midnite Express echoed throughout T-Mobile Arena, and Rencountre made his way to the octagon with the Osage tribal flag draped across his back.
“This music’s got me fired up. I love it!” said commentator Joe Rogan.
Standing toe-to-toe, at 6’2”, Rencountre bested his opponent by two inches. Both touched gloves and the fight began. Early in the first round, Naurdiev’s offensive punished Rencountre with high knees to the torso, and a powerful body kick. Rencountre countered with strikes before eventually taking down Naurdiev and the pair grappled on the mat, with Rencountre’s collegiate All-American wrestling skills shining.
The next two rounds were packed with similar action, and again, Rencountre was able to take down Naurdiev and punished him with blows to the head and body.
The end of the third round signified the end of the bout and both opponents stood in the center of the octagon, awaiting the official scores from the judges. Rencountre’s hand was raised as the victor by unanimous decision with scores of 29-28, 29-27, and 30-27.
In his post-fight interview, Rencounter said, “I’m from a small reservation in Oklahoma. All you kids out there watching me right now, you dream big, you go far, work hard, and leave no doubt behinds.”
Rencountre said he looks forward to getting back in the gym and continuing his training, and hopes to one day be in the top 15 of his division.
For more information about Rencountre, follow him on Twitter @BlackEagleMMA and on Facebook at Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre MMA.