Wisconsin Fighting Championship Proves Amateur MMA is Back in Wisconsin, Five Title Fights Scheduled for Saturday
About a year ago the state of Wisconsin ran into such a low point with its amateur mixed martial arts scene that many believed the amateur division may never recover.
Fighters were ill-prepared to deal with the relatively new state requirements, promoters were still growing accustomed to the newly established costs of hosting an event, and the amateur scene was virtually non-existent in Wisconsin from September of 2010 to February of 2012.
The potential consequences over the lack of an amateur scene could have been disastrous for Wisconsin. Hopeful competitors would have had to routinely travel out-of-state, unprepared fighters would turn pro prematurely, and the overall product of MMA would suffer.
But promotions like the Wisconsin Fighting Championship weren't about to let that happen.
Vowing to return the amateur division back to its proud tradition, North American Fighting Championship promoters Duke Roufus and Scott Joffe announced the scheduling of four shows solely consisting of amateur bouts.
"This isn't something we want to do, but rather something we need to do in order to make sure MMA doesn't fail in Wisconsin," Roufus told US Combat Sports in an interview last year. "Without a constant amount of amateur fights the sport is going to die. These new shows should aid in the growth of the sport."
And so far the organization has been fantastic towards the reemergence of amateur mixed martial arts within the state. Focusing on implementing amateur titles and including fighters from across the state, the WFC has given amateur fighters like James Barber, Elias Garcia, J.R. Briones, Mike Rhodes and others a chance to showcase their abilities.
Holding their first event in February -- a stacked card that watched Briones, Barber, and Zac Ottow earn amateur championships -- the WFC is set to return to Milwaukee Harley Davidson on Saturday, June 9, with an even grander card that will feature five title fights that are all scheduled for five rounds.
Briones Defends Against Ascenzio
Looking to continue his reign as Wisconsin's heavyweight champion, Waukesha MMA behemoth J.R. Briones will square off against Freestyle Academy newcomer Luis Ascenzio. Briones earned the heavyweight title back in February with a split decision victory over Jordan Seufzer.
With numerous fights under his belt the 32-year-old Briones (5-1) should enter Saturday's matchup as a heavy favorite. But if amateur MMA has taught us anything over the years it's that the non-professional side can be as unpredictable as any other sport.
Gritty Amateurs Behnke and Seufzer Battle
The light heavyweight crown will be up for grabs between Metz Combat Club's Jeff Behnke and Unified Martial Arts' Jordan Seufzer. Both fighters have proven over the years that they can absorb punishment just as well as dish it out and this matchup should be no different.
Since his loss to rising prospect Matt Guathier back in April, Behnke (4-2) has rattled off three straight impressive victories over Tom Angeloff, Bobby Horcraffer, and Kyle Custer-Jones. But the lengthy middleweight will have his hands full against Seufzer (3-5) who has shown improvement in his wrestling game since beginning his training under Mike Biddle at in Fond du Lac.
Undefeated Luis and Hanson Clash
Two of the area's most talented amateurs clash for the WFC welterweight title as Highland Fight System's Miguel Luis meets Rising Son MMA's Charles Hansen. Equipped with a strong wrestling background, Luis (2-0) has looked impressive as an amateur with decision victories over Doug Deback and Matthew Demeny.
Not to be overshadowed, Hansen has wowed on the amateur circuit with an unblemished record of 5-0 since making his debut back in 2010. The Rising Son fighter has won all five of his bouts via submission and most recently submitted Jason Carr back in April at Madtown Throwdown 27.
Former Teammates Jennerman and Frias Tangle
Familiarity often breeds excitement in the fight game and the lightweight scrap between Nate Jennerman and Jake Frias is as intriguing as it gets. Both fighters have been considered as future staples in the state's professional scene and Saturday's matchup should be a good barometer as to where each competitor's skill set currently stands.
HFS' Jennerman (5-2) is currently in the midst of two-fight winning streak after faltering against Brian Radtke in Illinois back in November. Jennerman recently earned a notable submission win over Deback last month and looks to be on top of his game.
For Frias (3-1), Saturday's bout will be a chance to make amends for an unexpected loss that he suffered against Lucas Herbrand at Madtown Throwdown 27. The wrestler was caught with an unexpected strike early in the fight and suffered the first loss of his amateur career in just 16-seconds. Expect the Unified Martial Arts fighter to be a little more cautious with his early takedowns and look for his stifling top game to come back in effect.
Garcia and Meins Fight for Flyweight Title
Future flyweight contenders Elias Garcia and Jon Meins could steal the show on Saturday night. Both fighters have proved explosive and entertaining in the early part of their career and both should present the other with their most challenging opponent to date.
Fighting alongside his cousins Anthony and Sergio Pettis at Roufusport, Garcia (4-0) has done everything asked of him since making the move from California. After defeating Chris Winkler, Keith Burks, and Kevin Burke, Garcia moved up a weight class last month at NAFC Colosseum and ultimately handed Dillon Woods the first loss of his career. Garcia looks to have a promising future in the sport and will likely turn pro after the matchup.
Likewise, Meins (3-1) has looked strong since becoming involved in the fight game. The Highland Fight Systems has impressed with victories over Shane Cadotte, Colin Cunningham, and Joe Hanley. However, the upcoming action will be his first since April of 2010 and whereas Garcia has fought four times in the past six months. Ring rust could prove to be a factor on Saturday night.
With an entire night of action scheduled to hit Milwaukee over the weekend NAFC's "Wisconsin Fighting Championship" will once again aim to solidify the state's amateur population. And with so many intriguing title bouts on the card it is one not to miss.