GFS 5: Warpath - Preview
Building off the momentum of a successful first four shows, Jared Daniels-Block caps off 2016 with a pro/am event at the Heart of St. Charles with Gateway Fighting Series 5: Warpath.
The November 19th show is the culmination of slowly rebuilding the fan base in the St. Charles market, and for Daniels-Block, learning on the job as he tweaks his formula.
"You have to test the market with what is what is currently available on the pro side of things," Daniels-Block said. "I had to see where contracts fell and where people's heads were at. We did ammy's first but we were shopping the idea of doing a pro show. The response was that it was badly needed and there was a big hole to fill with Rumble Time gone."
If all of the recent announcements come true, 2017 looks to be an even bigger year for Daniels-Block and his Gateway Fighting Series.
"We're going into Iowa next year, Davenport and Sioux City." Daniels-Block said. "I hired Mike Camp, the old King of the Cage matchmaker. Hiring him is one of the best things I've ever done. He knows the markets in both places and he lives in the Quad Cities. Also, he has a great relationship with fighters and coaches in Wisconsin and he'll help us break into Green Bay."
Not stopping there, Gateway will be partnering up representatives in Kansas and Texas to also expand westward.
"I've known Dusty Spualding in Kansas for a bit, he's Demetrius (Wilson's) old coach." Daniels-Block said. " With his help, we'll be doing events on the Kansas side of Kansas City. Everyone really likes Dusty and seems like the community is on board. Dusty is partnered up with Dustin Garrens, a former Shamrock FC matchmaker who now lives in Texas, and he owns Five Star Management together. So we'll also be doing shows in Texas. They'll be helping me run four pro/am events next year, two in Texas and two in Kansas."
To sum it up, that is shows in Davenport, Sioux City in Iowa, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and at least four Pro/Ams in Kansas in Texas. A previously announced show in Springfield, IL brings the tally to Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Texas.
"We're just trying to grow the band better," Daniels-Block said. "The responses we're getting is great. We're going into areas that don't have many other shows."
This all comes after Daniels-Block announced a professional kickboxing event on January 7 at the 10,000-seat Chaifetz Arena, home of the St. Louis Bilikens.
Headlining the November 18 event is a bantamweight battle between Shane Shomidie and Shaine Moffitt. Since moving to Sioux City, Iowa in 2014, Moffitt (4-5) has primarily competed for the Iowa-based King of the Cage promotion where he went 1-2 against some stiff competition in the Iowa circuits. Moffitt has been on the shelf for almost a year and a half and will return home where he fought the majority of his amateur career.
"Shomidie was an old Hit Squad guy, he's got a lot of ties to those guys like Jake Constant, Josh Stewart, and Brian Foster." Daniels-Block said. "He's fighting out of Springfield, IL right now, and I think he's training with Vince Eazelle."
Moffitt cut his teeth on Iowa amateur circuit before moving to St. Louis in 2011 where he joined up with Joe Worden's Destruction MMA. He became a mainstay for Jefferson County promotions like Gateway Fighting League and Nemesis Fighting Alliance before turning pro and joining Rumble Time Promotions' roster of fighters.
"I really like Shaine and have been wanting to get him involved in my events in some capacity," Daniels-Block said. "I had actually matched him against Yohance Flager. I know his capabilities in the cage. I think stylistically Shomidie is going to try and power wrestle him. Moffitt has really good jiu-jitsu and decent stand-up. This should be a really good stylistic match, and both have similar records."
In the co-main event, Travis Draper returns from an injury to face Ohio's Johnathan Akers. The two were matched up previously with Draper having to pull out because of an injury. Akers took this as a slight and has unleashed a barrage of negative comments about Draper.
"Akers was supposed to fight Travis at a Rumble Time event but couldn't fight because of the injuries he suffered in a fight with Cuka Willis." Daniels-Block said. "Travis didn't even remember who he was but Johnathan has a grudge and was pretty upset he backed out on him two years ago. Johnathan is a legit guy who trains with Rich Franklin and Jorge Gurgel, both of which were in the UFC. You never know what you're going to see."
On paper, this looks like a sizable mismatch with Draper (4-1) considered one of the area's best-unsigned featherweights contrasted with the relatively unknown Akers who shows a record of 0-5 according to Mixedmartialarts.com's fighter database, but it's possible he has some un-reported wins.
"I was at a show he won at and that's how I know he has some wins," Daniels-Block said. "Travis has been out for a while and it's time for him to make a comeback. I was fortunate to work with Travis at a day job and he's a really good dude. We got to talking about him making a comeback and it just happened that he was on the RFA card but he got hurt again, I saw that as an opportunity to get him into the cage at my show. I think we're going to see a different Travis in there. He's got a pretty decent record but that could always change."
GFS 5 will also bring the return of Fierce Taylor to action. Taylor lit up the St. Louis amateur MMA scene in the summer of 2012 with memorable clashes with Damian Newman and Ira Lukowsky and a shocking victory over the previously undefeated Charles Johnson. At one point, Taylor was ranked 1st in area bantamweights under Spire Sanctioning Alliance's MMA rankings. Shortly before taking his first MMA fight, Taylor moved to California to live and train. Taylor has been battle tested as an amateur, taking on all-comers and used strong wrestling and an iron will to bulldoze the amateur 135ers in the area.
Fighting out of Hahn's MMA is bantamweight Seth Basler, someone who will hope to play spoiler to Taylor's homecoming. Basler scored an impressive 1st round KO over Cort Wahle back in September before losing by submission a couple of weeks later to highly touted Daron McCant in KC.
Basler has become a bit of a short notice specialist and it will be interesting to see what he can do with a full camp. Training alongside Damian Newman, someone who is very familiar with Taylor's abilities should help with his game planning. Basler has one-punch KO power as evident of the Wahle fight and Taylor is a bit of an unknown quantity since his move to the west coast.
One of the featured attractions for GFS 5 is the pro debut of Lucas Clay. Clay has all the markings of the next big thing to come out of St. Charles MMA with an incredible work ethic, exceptional ground game, and quickly improving striking arsenal. Local fans who saw Clay's three round K1 bout with Montrel James earlier this year witnessed something special. Sean Woodson made his pro debut at RFA in September with a quick submission win over Kevin Brown. Woodson looked more well-rounded than his previous outings and has greatly improved since setting up shop at the Wolves' Den in O'Fallon, MO. Look for Woodson's reach to cause problems for Clay, but if the fight goes to the ground, Clay should have a noticeable advantage.
"This is a match-up of two prospects of two great gyms," Daniels-Block said. "Clay is out of SCMMA, which has one of the strongest jiu-jitsu programs for MMA in the area. Woodson is out of the up and coming Wolves' Den. He feels at home there and if a fighter is comfortable they can do great things. Sean's boxing is equal to Lucas' jiu-jitsu. Where each fighter lacks the other is strong. This should be a really good fight that could go either way."
Fight Hard MMA's newest matchmaker, Charles Hackmann, will put down the pen and paper to strap on the MMA gloves when he faces Kris Renty in a heavyweight match-up. This is the second opponent for the outspoken Hackmann, who chided his previous opponent on social media before his ultimate removal from the bout. Hackmann is most well known for his boxing match with the late Kimbo Slice in Springfield, MO. Renty is a boxer out of Oklahoma, who has four MMA bouts to his credit.
The "Silver Back" Zach Gerullis and Chris Beal will kick things off on the main card.
On the amateur side is an intriguing match-up between Johnny Cox and Jamese Taylor, two of the best young kickboxers around. There could be plenty of fireworks in this K1 match-up. Look for Taylor's range to play an important factor in this one.
Card subject to change
Pro Main Card:
Shane Shomidie vs Shaine Moffitt
Travis Draper vs Johnathan Akers
Fierce Taylor vs Seth Basler
Sean Woodson vs Lucas Clay
Charles Hackmann vs Kris Renty
Zach Gerullis vs Chis Beal
Amateur Title bouts:
Johnny Cox vs Jamese Taylor - K1
Roddell Thomas vs Brandon Karcher
Trevon Crawford vs TBA
Chris Peterson vs Brandon Beatty - K1
Lorrie Thorpe vs Nora Hamilton - K1
Dillian Schreiter vs Sebastian Grant
Mimi Kutzin vs TBA - K
Joseph Williams vs Ryan Dascenzo
Danny Moriarty vs Richard Jones
Nigel Haynes vs Sam Stevenor - K1
Antonio Atkins vs Aaron Clarke
Vince Bantu vs Jonathan Bradberry
Bill Smith vs Matt Tull
Gateway Fighting Series 5:
Friday, November 18th
Heart of St. Charles, St. Charles, MO
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO
Proving Grounds (Kick) | Sat, March 24th
St. Louis Prep, St. Louis, MO
Cage Champs 59 | Sat, March 31st
Big Eagles Hall, Sullivan, MO
Shamrock FC: 304 | Sat, April 7th
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO