Five Intriguing Storylines Heading Into Tomorrow's Rogue Warrior Championships Event in Green Bay
By Paul Fladten of US Combat Sports
On Thursday night in Green Bay the Rogue Warrior Championships unleash an exciting mixed martial arts lineup. Featuring a fair share of out-of-state competitors and a handful of Wisconsin prospects the card looks to be well worth the price of admission.
Check out the five most intriguing storylines heading into tomorrow's event including whether or not MMA can thrive once again in Green Bay, if Gerald Meerschaert is finally ready to hit the big time and much more.
1. Will people show up?
It's a simple question that requires a complex answer. In a perfect world every event would sellout its venue and the promoters would anxiously await the next show. But we all know that isn't the case. Countless circumstances can affect ticket sales and the Rogue group definitely has some obstacles to overcome.
First, tomorrow's card is held on a weeknight. Adults have to work and kids have to go to school the next day. It's an easy one to understand. Second, shows held in the summer almost always have trouble convincing fans to spend an entire night inside. Even Madtown Throwdown's most recent card suffered low attendance numbers.
Next, the evening's main event and co-main event feature fighters from Texas, Florida, Idaho, and Illinois. This isn't a knock on the card or the four men pegged to perform, but past events have proven difficult to market without a Wisconsin-based headliner.
Finally, information on this card and marketing campaigns were virtually non-existent leading up to show time. Anyone not in the loop had very little knowledge about the card and were left scrambling for news. Hopefully these concerns are exaggerated and the organization will sell every ticket. We'll just have to wait and see.
2. Mike Rhodes or Matt Gauthier?
Not often do undercard fights on local shows garner as much attention as the welterweight battle between Mike Rhodes and Matt Gauthier. But this one just has a different feel to it.
Whether the hype is embellished or legit, both Rhodes and Gauthier enter Thursday's bout with much to lose and even more to gain. Gauthier, a former Rookie of the Year nominee in Wisconsin, has often been overlooked in the first four wins of his career.
Rhodes is just the opposite. Understanding how to play the game, "Biggie" has used his personality, social media prowess, and Roufusport association to garner press entering his first two professional bouts. And he has backed it up earning two impressive victories.
Now, the time to talk is over and both men will battle it out in the cage. Expect Rhodes to attack on the feet early, possibly forcing Gauthier to try and bring the fight to the mat. No matter who gets his hand raised the end result should help to weed out the state's stacked welterweight division.
3. Is Gerald Meerschaert ready for the big time?
Come Thursday night it will be more than 500-days since "The Machine" has participated in an official mixed martial arts bout. Determined to erase his surprising defeat to "Whisper" Goodman, Meerschaert enters the cage against a familiar foe in Eddie Larrea.
Previously beating Larrea back in 2010 via second round submission, the stage is set for GM3 to get back to his winning ways at Rogue Warrior Championships. Realistically, no one takes a rematch in MMA unless 1) you know you can win or 2) the first fight was ridiculously close. Meerschaert vs. Larrea II falls under the first category.
Already holding a respectable record with wins over Sam Alvey, Ron Faircloth, and Dallas O'Malley - not to mention he now trains under the highly connected Roufusport umbrella - the time has come for the 24-year-old to fully reach his potential and earn a trip into a major organization. The question is will he?
4. Which out-of-state fighter will thrill?
Non-Wisconsinites line tomorrow's card in Green Bay. From former "The Ultimate Fighter" contestant Darrill Schoonover to Army Ranger Scotty Thomatz, the organization is committed to filling the roster with veterans of all branches of the military in order to gel with its fundraising efforts - and all the power to 'em.
The question for fans in attendance is which one of these athletes will leave the longest lasting impression. Looking at the matchups it seems likely that Schoonover, Thomatz, and Chris Davis have the strongest chances to secure an electrifying finish.
5. Can MMA thrive in Green Bay once more?
Over the past few years fans of Wisconsin MMA have become accustomed to the invisible boundary lines that exist amongst the state's MMA promotions. Madtown Throwdown owns Madison, North American Fighting Championship rules Milwaukee, King Of The Cage holds down the top of the state, and Combat USA used to rock Green Bay.
Since 2007 fans in the northeastern portion of the state regularly made Combat USA their promotion of choice. Featuring top talent such as Pat Barry, Sam Alvey, and numerous tournament-thirsty combatants, the organization was a big draw. But Combat USA's Packerland dominance seems a thing of the past.
The decision to host Rogue Warrior Championships in Green Bay is intriguing and could pay huge dividends if the right fans are ready to spend their hard-earned money on MMA once again. Local fighter Josh Kasee should sell his fair share of tickets, but the real key is marketing to the fans much like Combat USA used to.
In this writer's opinion ticket sales for tomorrow's card may fall short due to a lack of publicity and a relatively light Wisconsin lineup. But even if it does, promoters shouldn't give up on the Green Bay market. Fans in the area have proven loyal in the past and are more than ready to embrace the next big promotion.