The first "St. Patty's Beatdown" set a high standard a year ago, so Midwest Championship Fighting promoter Kelly Wiseman knows the second Beatdown on Saturday at the D&N Event Center has a lot to live up to.
Fortunately, Wiseman feels that he has the fight that will make "St. Patty's Beatdown 2" another success when North Platte's Justin Thompson defends his MCF amateur welterweight title against Duane Johnson.
"It's a huge fight and there's some bad blood between the two," Wiseman said of the main event. "Duane has said some things on Facebook and he beat Justin's brother, Derek, by TKO."
Last year, Wiseman couldn't have hoped for a better reception than the one he got for the first St. Patty's Beatdown. The show set a national record for cagetix.com, a Mixed Martial Arts ticket service, an accomplishment Wiseman credits to the strong MMA fanbase in North Platte.
"It was obviously a huge success," Wiseman said. "We broke the national record, which we weren't expecting. North Platte fans have been loyal to MMA. It's a railroad town and it's a tough, blue-collar town and there's just a way we enjoy our combat sports here."
There will be a lot of hometown pride at stake in the Thompson-Johnson fight. In any type of fighting, a clash of styles and backgrounds between the two competitors usually equates to money at the box office and the upcoming battle certainly offers that.
Thompson is a hometown hero and his opponent, Johnson, is from Omaha, so there's the element of east vs. west, big city vs. small town. Wiseman says Johnson is also known as a highly-skilled fighter while Thompson, who is also technically strong, is known more for his heart and toughness than anything else.
If that wasn't enough, there's also Johnson's efforts to get in Thompson's head by talking smack on Facebook.
"People are wanting to see this fight because there's been a lot of trash talking by Duane," Wiseman said. "It's nothing personal between the two. It's just his way of pumping himself up for a match."
Just another fight for Thompson
But Thompson says that he isn't letting it get to him.
"It's just another fight as far as I am concerned," he said.
Thompson admits that he's been entertained by what Johnson has had to say and that it doesn't bother him nearly as much as his supporters.
"I try to avoid getting wrapped up in that," Thompson said. "Duane is just trying to get me worked up. I've read some of it and I've laughed at it. It's cracked me up."
But Thompson knows that Johnson can back it up in the octagon. The lefty from Omaha is a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and he's known to be a smart fighter with good stamina.
"He seems to have a lot of range and he avoids taking a lot of damage," Thompson said. "He goes out there and he has a game plan and he's well-rounded. He's also a southpaw and a lot of his opponents have fallen into that trap."
Johnson defeated Thompson's brother, Derek, last fall at MCF 8 by technical knockout in the third round. But Thompson said that his brother held his own and he finds that promising for Saturday.
"I wasn't real impressed (with him)," Thompson said. "I thought it was an even fight. Derek wasn't as aggressive as he needed to be with him and (Johnson) kept him at bay with his range. But I didn't see anything that made me think he was that great of a fighter. Derek and I are both different type of fighters, so we'll see."
The Thompson-Johnson fight will be one of four MCF title fights on the card at "St. Patty's Beatdown 2". The fights start at 7 p.m.
MCF Lightweight Amateur Champion Anthony Cox will defend his belt against Justin Weaver. In the battle for the MCF amateur bantamweight title, Ryan MacDonald will go against Kolby Howell. And for the MCF amateur featherweight title, Mark Hooper will square off with Dwight Joseph.
Cox, McDonald and Hooper are all from North Platte.
Seven other matches are scheduled on the undercard including local fighters Brandon Bringewatt, Mercedes Timmerman, Delfino Benitez, Jose Sabala and Martin Sellers.
program. The program sends meals and food products home with students on weekends.
“Given that we didn’t do the Hoggy Doggy Splash this year, I wanted to make sure I found a way to give to the backpack program,” MCF owner Russ Jones said. “I believe in the theory behind it greatly and hope that it helps the less fortunate kids of our community.”