Isidro 'Chilo' Gonzalez
A slate of fierce fighters is booked, tickets are selling like hotcakes and the forecast is for generally good weather Saturday for the "St. Patty's Beatdown." The mixed martial arts fights begin at 7 p.m. at the D&N Event Center on East Walker Road.
Weigh-ins will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Touchdown Club on South Jeffers.
The fight, the sixth Midwest Championship Fighting battle in North Platte, has already broke the national record for the number of tickets sold through the ticket outlet, Cagetix.com. The previous record was set in San Antonio, Texas, pop. 1.3 million.
“We beat the record over a week ago and the numbers are still climbing,” promoter Kelly Wiseman said Monday.
Wiseman believes the fight will set an MMA attendance record in North Platte, with momre than 2,000 people in the crowd.
The fight card and production has been being prepared for months; but Wiseman said a lot can happen in the final week, such as fighter injuries and adverse weather. There is a chance of a spring rain Saturday.
Former headliner Tony Johnson injured a knee Feb. 2 in a fight in California and had to cancel.
“Losing a professional fighter just weeks before the event is very serious,” Wiseman said. “A replacement has to be found that is comparable and current on medical exam, eye exam, bloodwork, and a new contract has to be drafted.”
MCF promoters, chiefly Wiseman, found Bellator veteran Isidro "Chilo" Gonzalez to replace Johnson. Gonzales will face Travis Peak of Alliance.
“I had a hard time finding someone willing to take the fight on short notice against someone as dangerous as Peak,” Wiseman said. “We are very excited about this match-up.”
The fighters are top athletes.
Peak is a phenomenal wrestler and well-rounded fighter who will stand and trade punches with anyone, Wiseman said.
Gonzalez is a crafty veteran with a wealth of experience against a lot of UFC veterans.
The bout is expected to be the fight of the night.
The other professional main event is Cody Land v. Brett Hodgen.
Wiseman knows those two fighters well. They were teammates at Hard Knocks Gym in Hastings when Wiseman was the head MMA coach there.
When Wiseman moved to North Platte, he sent Hodgen to Denver to train under his first student, renowned North Platte fighter Luke Caudillo.
Caudillo isn't fighting, but he is expected to bring a team of his fighters from the Grudge Training Center in Denver to see how it's done.
Wiseman credits co-promoter Russ Jones with helping put on the fight.
“There is a ton of work and planning that goes into an event, but Russ has done an amazing job and we work very good together,” Wiseman said. “We have been planning and working on this since October. We wanted to make sure our first event together was a huge success.”
A success is in the works.
The officials weigh-ins Friday at the Touchdown Club are open to the public. The public is encouraged to attend and cheer their local or favorites fighters.
On Saturday, at least four other fighters will be special guests, Wiseman said, including three-time UFC Champ and MMA legend Jens Pulver; two-time UFC, Strikeforce and MCF veteran Luke Caudillo; current UFC fighter and MCF veteran Justin Salas, and current UFC fighter and Strikeforce veteran Anthony Smith.
Land v Hodgen
In the co-main event, Land and Hodgen are former teammates but later moved on to different gyms in different states. They will set aside their friendship to go to war in what is sure to be an exciting fight, Wiseman said.
Cody Land is from Brady and now trains at one of the top gyms in the Midwest, Premier Combat in Omaha. He's an exciting professional fighter who brings it every time he steps in the cage. He's coming off a knock-out win in his last fight, during Disorderly Conduct's Season's Beatings.
Nebraska State Wrestling Champion Brett Hodgen trains at one of the top gyms in the world -- Grudge Training Center in Denver. Hodgen trains under Luke Caudillo and with some of the UFC's top fighters.
In other bouts, local amateurs include: Jason Jensen, Mercedes Timmerman, Justin Thompson, Anthony Cox, Jordan Vigil, Brandon Bringewatt, Mark Hooper, Derek Thompson, Roman Reyes, Jason Windham, Zac Helton, Michael Velasquez and Eric Mecham.
Also, the fights will feature Trent Scheele, Allison Lantz, Erik Jimenez, Clayton Lemmer, Mike Baur, Kerwin Sherrill, Jamie Szafrajda, Kolby Howell, Steve Richards, James Schulte, Blake Baney, and more, Wiseman said.
MCF 6 fight card as of March 12:
Pro Main Event (175 lbs) - Travis Peak (Alliance, NE) vs Chilo Gonzalez (Aurora, CO)
Pro Co-Main Event (135 lbs) - Cody Land (Omaha, NE) vs Brett Hodgen (Denver, CO)
Am. Main Event (185 lbs) - Jason Jensen (NP) vs Trent Scheele (Greeley, CO)
Am. Co-Main Event (145 lbs) - Mercedes Timmerman (NP) vs Allison Lantz (Denver, CO)
185 lbs - Justin Thompson (NP) vs Rodney Petersen (Atlantic, Iowa)
155 lbs - Jordan Vigil (NP) vs Erik Jimenez (Grand Island, NE)
145 lbs - Mark Hooper (NP) vs Clayton Lemmer (G.I.)
155 lbs - Anthony Cox (NP) vs Mike Baur (Kearney, NE)
185 lbs - Derek Thompson (NP) vs Kerwin Sherrill (G.I.)
215 lbs - Brandon Bringewatt (NP) vs Jamie Szafrajda (Kearney)
225 lbs - Jason Windham (Lincoln) vs Danny Ludwig (Kearney)
145 lbs - Roman Reyes (NP) vs Kolby Howell (G.I.)
185 lbs - Mike Velasquez (NP) vs Steve Richards (Kearney)
185 lbs - Zac Helton (NP) vs James Schulte (Hastings, NE)
145 lbs - Eric Mecham (NP) vs Blake Baney (G.I.)
*Card subject to late changes