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March 10, 2012

Premier Fighting Championship 8: A true test

     Premier Fighting Championship brings Western MA a tournament on April 1st, no joke.  O.K. now that I've got that out of my system let's talk MMA.

      I recently caught up with the busiest mom, wife, student, and owner of 3 demanding businesses that I know personally.  Karyn Wesch is not only busy, but she may also be one of the most adaptable promoters in MA at the moment.  After a trying 2011 season the Mistress of Mayhem had to take a hard look at what it would take to continue perusing her passion for the sport.

 With everything on the line at her last show featuring Dany "The Upgrade" Lauzon, Ryan Quinn, and Ricardo Funch in one of the best venues in the state of MA, The UMass Mullins Center, she came up short.  A constant flaw that plagued her throughout the year had not been overcome and despite of the effort put forth by everyone involved the show did not qualify as a success.  Several weeks later a text from Karyn eased my mind over the fate of the runaway promotion.  Karyn declared defeat, but vowed to wage a new war.  This is what brings us to the present.

     In the last few months Premier FC has begun to pull itself up by the bootstraps and re imagine what it is to be the "Premier" promotion that fighters will want to be ready for a call from.  At one point the reinvented organization would travel taking the show to parts unknown and deliver a unique experience to the masses.  This vision and version was set aside for many reasons and probably for the best.
     I ask you, my readers, "what do you imagine as being Premier"?
     Now I ask you, "how does one make that happen"?  
     Not such an easy couple of questions is it?  Well despite that fact Karyn believes that she has found the answer.  K.I.S.S..  Yes, the acronym that we all know by heart "Keep It Simple, Stupid!" may be the lynch pin that holds this whole thing together.  MMA has had many rebirths, but the first and probably the most iconic form it took was the round robin style tournaments.
There is an old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." 
     Well here we go back to the basics folks.  Karyn has resurrected that format in hopes of keeping it simple and I think it just may work.
     A lot of you are going to say that a tournament is not creative or that it is not going to be exciting enough.  You are only right about one thing, a tournament "is not".  It is not flashy, but why should a sport drenched in blood be flashy?  It's primal and that is exciting.  It is not creative, but it is easy to understand.  When you take the element of finding specific fighters that meet very specific criteria out of the equation you open up tremendous opportunities for the unexpected.  As for the art of matchmaking I will say this.  A matchmaker is worth his or her weight in gold if they are good at it.  Karyn is without a matchmaker of her own and now holds the license herself for the promotion, but this format allows her to again keep it simple and not overwhelm herself with that task.   For the matchmaking side of the project it is just as simple.  Put the fighters on notice that there is a tournament and as they sign on they are matched with the fighter that signed on just before them.  No frills, no matching styles, or finding exciting elements in a fighters game that make them worthy, just old fashioned luck of the draw.  Hope that you are preparing for anything cause now anything can happen.  This is going to be exciting.  She is going to allow up to eight fighters in a number of weight classes to enter her tournament.  The emails have gone out and the fighters are responding.  At the moment we have three divisions to look forward to.  The 135lb, 145lb, and the 170lb divisions will make up the tournament while a few select non-tournament bouts will give us some heavy handed distractions throughout the day at each of the four events.  City Boy is preparing his articles that will tell you who's facing who at what weight so keep an eye out.  As the MSAC does not allow for fighters to fight continuously at sanctioned events the tournament will last 4 1/2 months and will yield three indisputable champions.  For Wesch this means an event every six weeks so mark your calendars now.  You are going to be busy for a few more Sundays.   The MSAC makes awards very simple and for that we should all give thanks.  Not really cause a lot of fighters could use some cash, but rules are rules unless we work to change them and we should try very soon.  Wink Wink Nudge Nudge.

     Karyn will award the lucky winners with a travel package, a fight gear package, and belts.  Not bad for 6 months of constant training (I included the month and a half any fighter should give themselves to prepare for the first event as well as the constant preparation needed to make it to the end).  I find this aspect to be very interesting.  I have my doubts that all the combatants, even the winners, will make it through the entire tournament, but I wish them all the best.  This may be the bar that sets Premier FC apart from the rest as it is the first local promotion to expect without compromise a level of dedication from it's amateur participants that no one else has to this day as far as I know.  It's a tall order for sure, but to be the best you have to except that fact.  No matter what, once you sign up to fight in this tournament you are signing up for the whole thing.  Win or Lose.  The first loser is automatically the alternate so he will have to train the entire tournament as well.  Talk about pressure and professionalism.

     I will wrap this up by saying I hope to be writing my final article in September about this tournament and when I do I hope that I can say that you all rose to the occasion.  You gutted it out and gave it your all.  If you think I'm talking to the fighters only then you sadly are mistaken.  I expect each and every one of you to support these athletes on this journey.  Come to these shows and cheer louder then you thought you could. Take them into your gyms and training centers when you hear that they can't afford it and most of all let them know how much they inspire you to be your best.  I know they inspire me and that is why I "will"  be competing in the final event of this tournament.  It's the goal I have set for myself and since I am training with a 135lb contestant already in the tourney I will be as ready as the competitors themselves.  I have been training with Team Ravenous for just over two years and in that time my coaches Todd Selva and Jeremy "The Boss" Reipold have given me the tools and the confidence to reach into my gut and test myself in the cage.  Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments, questions, and criticisms.  Please leave them below.

Joe Leonard (pictured above with his team, head only) is a writer and photographer for as well as a student of Team Ravenous MMA located at The Web in Greenfield, MA.

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