By Ben Pherson
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
While the three main event-type fighters on Saturday's local mixed martial arts card all have new opponents, it appears that two of the three have taken a step up.
|If you go|
What: Professional and amateur mixed martial arts fights.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Graham Arena at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds.
Who: Local fighters include Travis Wiuff, Tommy Speer, Logan Clark, Travis Perzynski, Chris Barden, Mike Hansen and Heath Rud. Other fighters will be announced in Friday's event preview.
Tickets: $20 for general admission in advance, $30 at the door. Reserved seating is $45. Tickets are available at Kathy's Pub, all Andy's Liquor locations and from participating fighters.
Info: UFC veteran Clay Guida was to make an appearance, but due to a scheduling conflict, Guida will not be able to attend.
Originally, the three local standouts were scheduled to fight Chris Albandia, Dan Stittgen and Jason Guida, who all train at the Midwest Training Center in Illinois. That's the home camp of UFC veteran Clay Guida, who is the brother of Jason.
Last week, though, deals for the fighters from Midwest Training Center couldn't be worked out, so they backed out of the event, leaving organizers scrambling to find new opponents for Wiuff, Clark and Speer.
Stepping up to fight Speer was local product Travis Perzynski, who is a former Zumbrota-Mazeppa wrestler. Perzynski normally fights at 155 pounds, but he'll meet Speer (11-3) at 175 on Saturday.
It's a big jump in weight for Perzynski, who has more than 20 wins at 155 and only two losses.
Speer said he expects the weight difference to be a major advantage.
"Perzynski is tough, but I think my ground game is better than his," Speer said. "I think size and strength will be a factor. I'll weigh 190 pounds by the time the fight comes. Plus, I'm more experienced. He has more fights than me, but I've been in bigger fights."
Speer became sick recently, which is why the fight is at 175 instead of his normal 170.
"When I got sick, we tried to find an opponent for me at 185, because it's tough to cut weight when you're sick," Speer said. "When we couldn't find someone at 185, I guess Perzynski stepped up."
Speer has been doing most of his training for this fight with Mario Roberto at Fourth Street Gym, but he's also traveled to Winona to train with Mike Howell.
The former Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Rochester Community and Technical College standout said he hopes to use this fight as another steppingstone. He'd like to be fighting for a bigger promotion by the end of the year.
"I believe my manager has me fighting in Canada some time soon, but other than that, nothing is set up," Speer said. "I'd like to take another fight, get another win, and then be in Strikeforce or with someone big. Anything can happen, but that's what I'm hoping."
Guida steps up
When Clark's original opponent backed out, organizers lined him up with Iowa native and wrestling standout Josh Marsh. But Marsh became ill this week and had to back out of the fight.
Jason Guida, originally set to fight Wiuff in a heavyweight bout, stepped up and took the fight with Clark on short notice.
It's an intriguing matchup, since Guida is a large 205-pounder who fights often at heavyweight, and Clark is small for 205 pounds and normally fights at 185.
Clark says Guida's size and strong wrestling background pose problems. But he's still confident he will come away with a victory.
"I think it will be mint to fight Jason Guida," Clark said. "His power will work for him, especially when it comes to his wrestling. He's obviously a more accomplished wrestler. But I expect my conditioning will be sufficient to outweigh any power advantage he'll have."
A new wrestler
With Guida out of his fight against Wiuff, the former RCTC All-American needed a new opponent. Stepping up was former Briar Cliff wrestler Waylon Goldsmith.
Goldsmith is just 2-2 as a professional, though many of his fights around the Sioux City, Iowa, area aren't listed on his professional record.
Wiuff said he doesn't believe Goldsmith presents any significant challenge.
"He's a big guy," Wiuff said. "That's about all I know about him. But that's nothing new. It's unfortunate, but it happens. I don't prepare any differently."
Wiuff said his training has been going well. He's worked extensively on his striking, and he hopes to display some of those skills Saturday.
"But I always say that's my strategy, and then it changes when I step in the cage," Wiuff said. "I'm looking to entertain the fans. I feel stronger than I've ever been, so I think that will help."
Wiuff said his added strength can be attributed to his new strength coach, Wes Emmert, who writes a fitness column for the Post-Bulletin. "The guy's awesome," Wiuff said. "He's taken my strength training to a new level. I always thought I knew what I was doing, but his workouts are crazy."
Other local clashes
Former Rochester resident Mike Wenzel will fight for the "Gladiators" 170-title against Chuck Parmelee (27-9-1)
Parmelee is a veteran who has been in the cage against some of the sport's best, and he's very big for 170. He normally fights at 185.
Wenzel is a deadly striker who defeated local product Joel Schrimpf in his last Rochester fight. Wenzel has struggled to make weight in the past, and if he fails to get to 170 this time, the fight will not be for the title. It's scheduled to be a five-round fight.
In a highly anticipated rematch, Rochester fighters Mike Hansen and Chris Barden will clash at 205.
Barden knocked out Hansen in their last meeting, but Hansen feels the outcome will be different Saturday. He's been training regularly with Clark at Rochester MMA and feels he's improved greatly since the first matchup against Barden.
"I've been training very hard, and since I've been under Logan's wing, I've improved a lot," Hansen said. "I feel a lot more comfortable in there. My boxing, my jiu-jitsu, my wrestling, it's all better. This is an important fight. I want that loss back."
Hansen lost his last fight due to a brutal cut. He said he took about six months to let that cut heal, and he hasn't had trouble since then. "It won't be a problem. It hasn't opened up again," Hansen said.
Hansen said he doesn't have a specific game plan for Barden, who is a wild yet powerful striker.
"It's always my goal to put on a good show for the fans, win or lose," Hansen said. "I think my conditioning will be a really big advantage for me because I've been putting in the training."
Former Byron wrestler Heath Rud will make his MMA debut. Rud, who is training with Clark at Rochester MMA, is a former state wrestling place-winner, and he'll meet another former state place-winner in Blaze Gill, who placed at the Iowa high school tournament.
"Heath is the most accomplished wrestler we've trained with," Clark said. "I think he'll do well. If Heath Rud can throw a three-punch combo in his first ever MMA fight, then I'm a winner. I don't think I could do that in my first MMA fight."
Local fighters Josh Leithe, Cameron Belfort and Tyler Knutson also will be on the card. Knutson is fighting Iowa product Matt Gabel, and Leithe will square off against Belfort.
The eight-fight card is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday. Minnesota MMA standout Brock Larson will make a guest appearance, replacing Clay Guida, who won't attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Tickets are $20 in advance and are available at Kathy's Pub, Andy's Liquor locations and from participating fighters. Tickets at the door are $30.