Saturday night is fight night in Ohsweken. There are about 3,000 people crowded into the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena where rock music is pumping out of massive speakers and coloured lights flash across the stands.
This is a testosterone-bursting bunch where young to middle-aged men make up the main demographic for this ultimate fighting show.
There are hundreds of hooded young men with shaved heads and baggy pants. The small percentage of women in the crowd tend toward blue jeans and sweatshirts or sequins, high hair and higher heels.
In a crowd like this, Linda Marr stands out. She belongs chairing a parent committee meeting.
"I'm very nervous," she says.
It's not the scowling, dread-locked young men or the grizzled group of men in Hell's Angels vests wandering the halls she's talking about.
Marr is at her first mixed martial arts fight to watch her son, Brandon Curts, go head-to-head with the only Ohsweken boy on the fight card of about 20 fighters.
"Normally, I wouldn't be caught dead in a place like this," she admits, but "I love my kids and we're all here to support Brandon." Support was the key for most of the crowd.
huge desire for fights
While a high number of people from the Six Nations community came out to the show, everywhere in the arena were large groups of people from various fight clubs in Ontario, cheering on one of their own.
For most of the crowd, these are the first live bouts of ultimate fighting they've seen. It's hugely popular on TV and in the U.S. But the sport is considered banned under Canadian laws that say unless a fight is approved by a provincial commission, it's illegal.
There was no effort to stop Saturday's show.
Organizers Bill Monture and Hamilton's Jim Procyk set up their own Grand River Athletics Commission to oversee and sanction the fight night, which was held on reserve land.
The men know there's a huge desire to see these ultimate fighters go into a ring using every boxing, wrestling and martial art skill they know.
On Friday, 21,000 tickets for the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event to be held in Canada went on sale in Montreal and were gone within five minutes.
"Give me a little time," smiles Monture. "I'll get there, too."
If this fight was put on in Toronto, says fan Mike McKibbon from Hamilton, it would sell out just as fast.
McKibbon, who trains in kickboxing, is following the progress of two Hamilton boys in the ring: twins Joel and Josh Powell are Six Nations men on the card.
Joel Powell thrills the crowd with an early win in the second bout, and his twin, Josh, takes his bout with a technical knock out later. Fight fans definitely were wary about going onto the reserve for the evening, says organizer Jim Procyk.
"Sure, people were concerned, we did get that sort of feedback," Procyk says. "My question was always 'Have you ever been there? Do you know any natives?' and most people would say no."
The organizers said they wanted to ease culture tensions and raise awareness of the reserve and natives but they couldn't have written a script better than the one that plays out through the evening.
After a fighter goes down with a pre-fight injury, though he had been told he wouldn't be in the ring tonight, Caledonia fighter Brian Edge steps in.
There are a few boos when Edge's hometown is announced but this is the fight that electrifies the crowd, says Procyk.
"Back and forth, up and down and a lot of striking. When Brian won with a technical knockout, the fans went crazy and were on their feet applauding."
That's the kind of goodwill and promotion Procyk and Monture hope for.
The organizers had worked hard to gain that trust through good planning and organization.
Paramedics and a doctor are on the scene and when one fighter dislocates or separates his shoulder, they're all over him. Dozens of area people were hired to work security, and the fighters, referees and judges are all licenced.
The commission decided to eliminate the use of elbow jabs - a move that leaves fighters bloodied in other fights.
Still, since it's a fight were blood can flow pretty freely, everyone is wearing safety gloves and fighters are required to submit clean blood tests.
The starting time of 7 p.m. came and went because there was still a huge line-up at the door.
Finally, after 8 p.m., Hubert Skye offered a traditional prayer in the Cayuga language with a not-so-traditional request that the Creator protect the young fighters so there were no serious injuries.
Some traditional drum singers warmed things up and the crowd was quiet as the first two fighters danced around. Soon people were responding to the hard hits, leg swipes and grappling seen in splendid detail on the enormous video screens.
It's the fourth round when Brandon Curts, Linda Marr's son is finally up, facing the hometown boy, Dwight Garlow.
"If he wins," his mom predicted before the fight, "he's going to leave this week to fight in the Cayman Islands."
Garlow puts in a tremendous effort and things look sad for Curts but the London man suddenly flips Garlow and punches him into submission with one forearm locked across his throat.
The referee calls Curts the winner just into the second round.
At ringside, his mom is smiling.