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Participants ready to battle in octagon


Promoter Kevin Gottschalk expects another big crowd for Saturday's mixed martial arts event in Hays.

Battle at the Fort VI is at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ramada, 3603 Vine. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. There will be an after party at Stadium Club following the fights.

There are 16 scheduled fights, with one of them a professional match. There is a weigh-in scheduled for 7 p.m. today at Stadium Club.

"I want to make this a quality event where people enjoy it," Gottschalk said.

He expects a crowd of approximately 1,000 Saturday.

"It's high energy, it's lights, sound -- when fighters come in it will be a big deal," he said.

There will be a 20-foot screen in the VIP section, and 10-foot screens in general admission.

Similar to MMA events on TV, fighters will be introduced to music.

The niceties end there. Once in the cage, it's all business. It better be, Gottschalk said.

"If you think a guy's going to be nice to you, you're in the wrong sport," he said. "He's going to come out, do everything he can to try to hurt you."

Gottschalk and Shannon Mathers train the three fighters representing the local club Saturday. Mathers' specialty is teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu.

"Hopefully, as you get up from amateur to pro, your technique is improving, all aspects," Mathers said.

There are three common fighting styles -- stand-up, clinch and ground. Jacob Philbern, a light heavyweight with a 3-0 professional record, will be Hays' representative in the pro bout. He is a stand-up fighter.

"Eventually, I'd like to fight somewhere big," Philbern said. "Just kind of take it one fight at a time."

Cody Sherwood is a student at Fort Hays State University who is an amateur with a 10-6 record at 185 pounds. He wrestled since he was 5 years old but turned to MMA.

"I didn't want to do college wrestling, so I jumped into MMA," he said.

His goal is to "just get better, one day go pro -- need to get through school first."

The third fighter is former FHSU wrestler Chance Rencountre, who is an amateur with a 4-0 record. He has a title fight at 170 pounds Saturday.

"He'll be good," Gottschalk said. "Like I say, amateur level at 170 is pretty good. His caliber is as good as it gets in amateurs."

Some fighters get a case of the jitters before entering the octagon.

"There are some people who freak out the first time they get in there," Gottschalk said. "... You can get anxious, anxiety.

"You got to get your mind set to do your job. You don't want to hold back. They're out to get you."

* * *

VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets are available at Leroy's Shamrock, 1509 Vine; Doerfler's Harley-Davidson, 1100 E. 43rd; both Cerv's locations in Hays (2701 Vine and 2722 Hall) and also at Cerv's in Great Bend and Hoisington.