THREE UFC VETS WILL FIGHT IN ROCHESTER
Three Ultimate Fighting Championship veterans will be on the card, including Elgin’s Tommy “The Farmboy” Speer, when Gladiators presents a mixed martial arts show Saturday at Graham Arena.
Speer, Brad Kohler and Chad Reiner are competing, and all have experience with MMA’s top organization, the UFC.
The fight card includes six professional bouts and five amateur fights. Three Gladiators championship belts also will be on the line.
Speer (12-5) returns to action for the first time since he defeated Jeremy Lafferty in Rochester on May 15. He could face his biggest challenge ever in Rochester when he takes on highly ranked Ashkan Morvari, who trains with American Top Team of Savage.
Morvari (8-3) is ranked No. 3 by Minnesota MMA News at 155 pounds. He will bump up a weight class to take on Speer, who is ranked No. 2 at 170.
Morvari is known as an elite wrestler with good ground-and-pound skills.
“I think he was a Division II wrestler, and I know he’s got good cardio,” Speer said. “I’m sure he’ll try to make it a grinding wrestling match. But I’m fine with that. I just don’t think he has as many tools as I do.”
Speer continues to train at the Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rochester. Roberto’s new gym opened in northwest Rochester, cutting Speer’s commute from Elgin. Speer also has been working with Roberto’s new strength and conditioning coach, Adam Rozmenoski.
“Having Adam there now is great; a lot of the elite fighters have their own personal trainer, and it feels like that’s what I have now with Adam,” Speer said.
Reiner (24-11), who trains in Nebraska, will get a major test from Minnesotan Robbie Gotreau at 170 pounds.
Reiner is a standout ground fighter with excellent jiu-jitsu skills, and Gotreau is one of the best wrestlers among Minnesota fighters. He was a three-time All-American at Augsburg and now has a 3-0 record in MMA. Gotreau also trains with the American Top Team in Savage. He is ranked No. 8.
Kohler, who owns one of the most replayed knockouts in UFC history, will take on local product Cam Befort, who is ranked No. 9 at heavyweight.
Kohler is now 46 years old and he has announced that this will be the last fight of his career. His last UFC fight was in 1999, and he’s 1-1 since returning to MMA in 2010.
Two title fights are on the professional portion of the card: Zumbrota-Mazeppa graduate Travis Perzynski will take on Trevor Suter (15-4) for the Gladiators 155-pound title, and Rochester’s Chris Barden faces Matt Gabel (5-1) for the 185-pound title.
Perzynski has rolled up a career record of 29-6-1 record and is ranked No. 2 at 155. The former Team Crazy member is now training with the Minnesota Fight Factory in the Twin Cities.
Suter was a collegiate wrestler down in Iowa.
Barden has been training with Aaron Vold at Compound MMA. He will be tested by Gabel, who is another outstanding wrestler from Iowa.
Finally, Team Crazy’s Ryan Stock will take on Derek Abram at 165 pounds.
The amateur portion of the card features a pair of former Byron High School standouts.
Eric Yngsdal is 2-0 in MMA and will take on Wisconsin’s Mike Zinda at 155 pounds. Yngsdal is a former Class AA state wrestling champion who went on to wrestle for a year at Minnesota State, Mankato. Yngsdal still is a student at MSU and trains with Mankato MMA.
Also on the card is Byron graduate Heath Rud. He’ll take on Iowa’s Cody Kiefer for the 185-pound Gladiators amateur title. Rud, a former high school wrestler taking classes at Rochester Community and Technical College, is 3-2 in MMA.
Tickets are $20 for general admission and $40 for reserved table seating. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and fights are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.