Strikeforce contract on the line at Treasure Island
By Ben Pherson
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
MMA at Treasure Island
What:Mixed martial arts fight card. There are nine scheduled fights with a 10th expected to be added. The event features the opening round of an eight-man middleweight (185 pounds) tournament. The tournament winner will receive a three-fight Strikeforce contract.
When:7 p.m. Friday.
Where:Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Red Wing.
Who:The four tournament bouts are Jeremy Hamilton vs. Colby Vogt, Kelly Beyers vs. Brandon Rossbach, Chase Weldon vs. Dan Davies and Derrick Mehlman vs. B.J. Lacy. Other fights include Jeremy Beck vs. Justin Mace, Aimee Slama vs. Katelin Grundmeier, Drew Wells vs. Ryan Stock, Chris Hassing vs. Lance Harding, Chris Barden vs. Nick Almen and Damien Papagni vs. TBD.
An eight-man tournament for a Strikeforce contract will highlight a loaded mixed martial arts card at Treasure Island Resort and Casino on Friday.
The first round of the tournament will all take place during Saturday's event, which will feature a total of 10 fights, including four tournament fights.
The tournament will be for middleweight fighters (185 pounds) and is highlighted by five undefeated athletes.
Matchmaker Nick Gamst said he approached Strikeforce about the possibility of running tournaments for entry-level contracts with that organization.
"They were all for it," Gamst said. "These are all guys who are very good, but they're a little less experienced. They haven't had a ton of fights, and they're probably not ready for the big show today. But this tournament will give them more experience, and by the time they get to Strikeforce, they'll be ready."
Gamst said the fighter who wins the tournament will start out with the Strikeforce Challengers series, which is broadcast on Showtime.
Red Wing's own Kelly Beyers (6-0) is competing in the welterweight tournament. He will take on fellow undefeated fighter in Brandon Rossbach. Beyers trains with the Dakota Fight Team.
"I know Kelly is training his butt off for this fight," Gamst said. "Rossbach is a head-hunter. His nickname is 'The Savage' and he lives up to that. Kelly is a very patient fighter, so if he can weather the storm that I'm sure Brandon will bring right away, this should be a great fight."
The other matchup of undefeated fighters on Friday is between Chase Walden (3-0) and Dan Davies (4-0).
Gamst said it's an exciting matchup because both fighters have similar styles.
"Dan has breezed through everyone so far, but Chase is a confident kid, and he's been training for almost two years, and he fights very smart," Gamst said.
Other first-round tournament matchups include Jeremy Hamilton (4-0) against Colby Vogt (6-5) and Derrick Mehman (6-1) against B.J. Lacy (13-13-1).
"Jeremy is a young stud, a really tough kid who looks great and has crisp punches," Gamst said. "Colby has had more fights, and I think every single one of his fights he's been against a tough guy. He doesn't take easy fights. And Mehman and Lacy is an interesting matchup. Lacy isn't really the kind of guy we were looking for because he's more experienced, but it's a great matchup because they're very similar fighters. I think all of the tournament matchups are interesting for one reason or another."
In addition to the tournament bouts, Gamst has lined up five fights and expects to find a matchup for another fighter to make a total of 10 bouts.
Three local fighters are scheduled to be in action. Red Wing's Drew Wells and Lake City's Ryan Stock will meet in a 155-pound showdown. Stock trains with Team Crazy, while Wells is with the Dakota Fight Team.
"I think Stock thinks this is going to be an easy fight, but Wells is a tough kid," Gamst said. "He's finally made a commitment to training, and I think he's ready. But of course, we've all seen how tough Stock is."
Rochester's Chris "The Big Deal" Barden will step back into the cage against veteran Nick Almen. "They don't like each other very much, so a grudge match is always interesting," Gamst said.
Also on the card is a female showdown between Aimee Slama of Mankato and Katelin Grundmeier of Iowa and a heavyweight clash between Jeremy Beck and Justin Mace. Chris Hassing and Lance Harding are expected to meet at a catch weight of 165 pounds. Gamst also is hoping to line up a 155-pound opponent for Damien Papagni to complete the 10-fight card.