On Saturday, August 21, 2010 staff photographer Mallory Mejia and I attended G2 Fight Nights: “Fight Night 3” in Tinley Park Illinois. G2 promoter Breea Gilbert provided a 12 fight card that was both efficiently run and well matched. They provided the estimated 700 people in attendance a professional quality show with a party atmosphere, but the promotion wasn’t without its failings. Gilbert Grappling (G2) provided the majority of the blue corner bracket, and that’s usually a big issue. When the promoter’s own camp provides the majority of the fighters it’s hard to believe they’re impartial. However, G2 had the good sense to use an outside matchmaker to book their fights which allowed them to book their own fighters without being open to accusations of favoritism. They also lack the validation of an outside sanctioning and officiating body and, though they went to great lengths to ensure that they provided impartial officiating for every bout, there were some judging mishaps which could have been avoided with the use of an outside sanctioning body. The show itself was a bit overdone, with money spent on dance platforms for go-go dancers, projection screens, and a film crew that had the sole purpose of feeding the fights directly to the projection screens. While the whole of the production was centered on bringing attention to the fighters (exactly how an amateur show should be focused) these elements could have been scaled down to provide funds that were lacking in more important areas. G2 provided pre-recorded video interviews with each fighter at the weigh-ins that played on the large projection screens prior to the fighters walk out music hitting the speakers and ensured that ring girls, vendors, and other members of the production were ghosts during walk outs, interviews, and more importantly, fights. I simply believe that they could have done just as well with half as many dancers and one projection screen. We know that the fans had nothing but good things to say about G2, but what does MOMMIE have to say?
Medical: The medical staff at G2 is a cut above. Led by Dr. Sam Wurster, who is a sports medicine specialist and the preferred doctor for the Combat Consultants sanctioning organization, the team included an LPN to assist and two paramedics, including one who exclusively covers mixed martial arts on weekends. With four men who have worked over 100 bouts together, the medical care is far beyond the kin of your average amateur promotion. Fighters were given full physicals including an eye exam, balance test, and complete medical history before the fights and were required to report for post-fight screenings or face suspension with every major sanctioning body in the area. If you get injured fighting for G2, you know you’re in good hands.
Grade: A+ The Fight Surgeons staff led by Dr. Sam Wurster is one of the best in the business.
Officiating: G2 brings in area judges and referees through their own connections. While they don’t use an outside sanctioning body to insure impartiality in their officials, the quality of the referee was top class. Jay Estrada was the third man in the cage for every bout on August 21 and he proved to be the single best referee I have seen in an amateur show. Fighters who knew a few of the tricks that often allow them to slip illegal strikes by the average ref, even at the pro level, found themselves being chastised by the hawk-eyed Estrada. On blatant infractions, Jay didn’t hesitate to take a point. In fact, he took two points in the first bout from a fighter with no warning due to two separate intentional fouls, then ensured the fighter he faced disqualification on his next infraction, intentional or otherwise. Stoppages were prompt but never early and Estrada was safety conscious in the best manner, stopping one bout due to armbar to prevent a stubborn fighter from having his arm shattered. The judging was less impressive. While all four decisions ended with the proper hand being raised, there were questionable round scorings on each decision. Also, there was an issue in fact that G2 unknowingly had one judge who was closely affiliated with a camp that provided four fighters on the card. Only two bouts involving the camp made it to decision and his scores were decidedly in their favor. In the match between “The Axe” Matt Brax and “Ill” Will Brooks, the two other judges and I saw a cut and dry 29-28 score for Brooks with Brax clearly winning the first. The judge in question scored all three rounds for Brooks. The second bout featuring this camp to make the distance, a fight between 0-0 Eric Black and 3-5 Kevin Switella, ended in a majority decision for Black; the same judge scored it a draw with the first round going 10-10 despite the fact that Black landed nearly three times the number of standing strikes in a round that never hit the mat. Luckily, this judging oversight didn’t change the outcome of any fights. Hopefully this motivates G2 to involve an outside consulting or sanctioning firm to ensure impartial judging in the future or to at least look deeper into the backgrounds of their judges.
Grade: B While Jay Estrada is easily the best referee I have ever seen in an amateur organization, the ignorance of their judges gym affiliations is to big an issue to over look. G2 needs to be more careful when they select their judges to ensure impartiality.
Matchmaking: G2 hired an outside matchmaker to book the bouts for their card. This was an incredibly good move as it takes any validity away from those who complain that they book fights that favor their own fighters, who made up almost one third of the total fight roster. Of the 12 total fights on the card, only one seemed to be slightly off kilter when a fighter with eight bouts faced first time fighter, and even that bout turned out to be very evenly matched. This card showed something every amateur promoter should see: the value of using a knowledgeable outside matchmaker who makes it his business to research the fighters before he pairs them. Any fighter who plans on fighting for G2 can count on a fair booking as long as they keep using the matchmaker they used on the 21st.
Grade: A+ The matchmaker use of an outside by G2 proved to be a very wise decision. The matchmaker was very knowledgeable of the fighters strengths and weaknesses and provided G2 with 12 evenly contested bouts in which either fighter had a fair shot at having his hand raised.
Media: G2 certainly needed more exposure in the local media outlets. While they have been covered previously by Sports Page magazine and Chicagomma.net, I believe additional advertisement and an effort to reach out to more local news sources would have greatly benefited G2, both in terms of continued growth and ticket sales for that night. As it was, MMAGospel.com was the only media source that covered the event on August 21, 2010. G2 did a very good job of putting focus on the fighters, but with the lack of outside media coverage for the promotion itself, they fly under the radar of the majority of regional professional organizations. Money that was spent on dancers and other peripherals could have been put to better use garnering attention for the promotion.
Grade: D G2 was a ghost to the local media. While they did manage to bring in a fair number of spectators, a show of their quality should have easily done more. This appears to be due mainly to extraneous spending on the attempt to provide an upscale club-like atmosphere for the all important 18-25 year old demographic. Unfortunately, there appeared to be little left to budget towards telling people about this atmosphere.
Insurance: G2 provided their fighters with a comprehensive medical insurance that covered any treatment that wasn’t covered by the fighters own health plan. This is more important than any other issue to an amateur fighter. There is no money involved with an amateur fight; he risks his health for nothing but the chance to test his skills. This means that a fighter who gets seriously injured in an amateur bout could be out thousands of dollars, a career as a fighter, or even his current job if he has to take several days or weeks off due to the injury. Good fighter insurance ensures that the injured man at least doesn’t have to worry about paying for costly doctor visits or emergency procedures.
Grade: A+ G2 uses a very reputable insurance company and spends the extra dollar for top flight coverage. This is one of the most important aspects of a promotion from the eyes of a young fighter who’s current health insurance may very well not cover MMA competition.
Exposure: The second area where G2 fell short was in the exposure department. As I previously mentioned, the only media presence was MMAGospel.com and we were there to cover the promotion itself. There was no presence from professional promotions, no scouts, and no local media to provide exposure for the fighters on the card. Also, as is common with any card dominated by one team, especially if the promoter is affiliated with that camp, the crowd was extremely biased towards specific fighters to the point of hostility towards their opponents. This means that if there are scouts, fighting against the home team will result in a biased opinion against you from the start as the crowd reacts strongly to the successes of their favored fighters. More exposure for the promotion to provide a larger, less biased crowd would do worlds to correct this but its all for nothing if the eyes and ears of the bigger pro shows aren’t there to see it. On the plus side, G2 is very diligent about reporting their fight results to mixedmartialarts.com which provides solid proof of your fight history to show professional promoters.
Grade: C G2 is, again, a ghost and therefore the fighters who compete on their card are destined to be the same. The only aspect of the exposure facet of amateur promotions that G2 nails is reporting. Reporting the fight results to the proper recording agencies is more important than any exposure aspect save having a verified UFC or Strikeforce scout in attendance.
In the end, G2 proved itself to be a very reputable organization and is the perfect place to start your mixed martial arts career. The fair matchmaking, excellent referee, and exceptional medical coverage make it a great place to safely cut your teeth without having to worry about blowing a big chance with the regional pro shows. They provide top quality accommodations for traveling fighters and an efficiently run, professional quality show. The promoter is open and honest about all aspects of the organizations practices and I have no doubt that, judging from what was only their third show, they will soon be one of best amateur promotions in the region. As it stands, I strongly recommend G2 Fight Nights for any small fight camp or new fighter who needs a place where they can get cage experience before facing fighters from bigger camps with more pull in the area.
Overall Grade: B+ G2 is an excellent promotion to fight for if you are looking to cut your teeth without risking a bad performance in front of any potential scouts or are worried about handling those first time jitters. MMA Gospel recommends G2 for every Chicagoland amateur’s first fight.