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Bread and Circuses

Tad had told me over the phone in a casual off the record conversation about a photographer he had hired to take pictures of highlights at one of his events. Tad caught the photographer outside of the event, in the middle of shooting Jake Blaski vomiting after the young man had lost a bout. Blaski suffered a minor concussion. Bremer asked for the shooting to stop, but wasn’t pleased with the photographer’s reaction.

“He was upset because I told him to photograph whatever he wanted,” explained Bremer. Tad laughs as he explains. When the man attempted to speak with Bremer about the rates of this photography, he was given a rude awakening. He had violated Bremer’s trust, and risked his integrity among the willing fighters who were to step up for future promotions. Blaski had been doing all he could at the time to shoe the camera-man away. The hired photographer was upset about this experience. Not an intelligent way for an artist to deal with their client.”

“That is an artist as I would have an artist be, modest in his needs: he really wants only two things, his bread and his art. (Panem et Circen.)” -Friedrich Nietzsche

It is difficult for the artist to exist in the MMA world, especially in dealing with the portrayal of a local promotion with a scheduled amateur and professional mixed card. With the televised UFC, you don’t really see this kind of thing. You’ll see people making UFC debuts, and on Ultimate Fighter you’ll see top fighting talent from across the underground scene (as is the case with Washington’s Bristol Marunde and Eddy Ellis). You don’t see the embarrassed faces of the amateurs who miss weigh-ins by five or more pounds, and the hair-pulling phone conversations which take place on part by the promoters when a replacement fighter needs to be brought in at a moment’s notice. These are the situations faced by promoters, and it is where the true talent of a promoter and his or her staff is most obvious.

One particular situation where I have seen this talent present itself was in the case of Red Neck Militia, where a fighter scheduled to debut at 180 lbs, already felt 10 lbs too heavy. It had been an arrangement made via text message between two coaches from out of state, and Keith Hutchison, head trainer at Red Neck Militia, Pendleton, Oregon, showed me the phone-text which clearly displayed that conversation. The opposing fighter’s trainer had clearly texted “180. No problem.”

“I would never have wanted my fighter to debut at 185,” said Hutchison. “It was already a stretch to get him to 180.”

The opponent of Hutchison’s debut pro stepped up to the scale and declared himself fighting at 185 lbs. He made weight. After stripping off every article of clothing he had on, and hiding behind a towel which his coach and teamates held up. It even seemed he was attempting to levitate. Hutchison, coming in from Pendleton, Oregon, was not pleased. The promoters, Tad Bremer and Mingo Reyna, were no more excited about the situation. They were still calm though.

Tad and Mingo immediately got on the phone and began last minute shopping for an appropriate replacement fighter. At this point, they were faced with a multitude of concerns and stresses. They would have to match within weight specifications, but also, the integrity of the fight itself needed to be taken into consideration. The talent and reputation of the fighter coming in to replace the 185 pounder needed to be considered as well, and then of course there was the nail-biting wait to see if a replacement was even available for Hutchison’s debut pro to face off with. I was already touching base with Hutchison and his team, taking notes, looking at text messages. These complications hadn’t occured to me, but in the world of the promoter, it is just another part of the game.

There was a last minute taker, and shifts in the card, according to appropriation of fighters, thier weights, and thier talents. The show would go on, and the crowd would get what they payed for. Hutchison also went home with a win for his team, and they still earned it.

Mingo had mentioned his admiration for those fighters willing to step in at the last minute. That admiration doesn’t just ring true with promoters either. It also stands with the dedicated fighters as well.

A.J. Webber for instance, after beating Justin Milane with a first round guillotine submission, shouted out with respect to Milane for coming in to replace Kip Ramos. Webber also discarded Ramos to the crowd at the event that night, implying that Ramos had “bitched out”.




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