On the anniversary of our nation’s darkest hour, MMA Gospel was a guest of Jim Jackson and Nic Thompson at the historic Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora, IL. This event, Rumble at the Roundhouse 2 (RRH2), was the third offering of the fledgling Chicago based Supreme Promotions. It was a very solid showing, especially for a promotion with only a year of experience, and brought some very unique concepts to the table. The venue (a micro brewery, restaurant, and bar built in an old high-end train station) was amazing. After walking in through the micro-brewery to the upscale jazz bar, the fans enter an open courtyard where they either sit on the flat topped stone work, the well manicured grass, at the full service bar near the entrance, or, for VIP ticket holders, at one of several high chaired tables. A full wait staff serves the fans, meaning they have no need to risk missing any of the action when it’s time for another beer. Around the edge of the venue were the booths for Supreme’s multitude of local sponsors including a display with a BMW and three custom Harleys. In the center of the courtyard is a raised hexagonal gazebo where Supreme placed a six-sided cage. That’s where the fairy tale venue met reality. The gazebo was small, which means the fighters had to compete in a tiny hexagonal cage that was 14 feet at the most. Also, the gazebo floor was so high that when the fight hit the ground, fans were forced to stand in order to see even a glimpse of the action. Supreme made sure that judges, camera men, and photographers were positioned behind the gazebo’s posts, keeping them out of the fans line of view, but the small size of the gazebo left the area looking a bit cluttered. There were also a few issues with the officials, record keeping, and matchmaking for the promotion. MOMMIE has the details.
Medical: The medical staff was led by Dr. Omar Garcia, a member of the Fight Surgeons organization led by Dr. Sam Wurster. He brought two assistants with him and was backed by an EMT with stretcher at cage-side. In addition to the comprehensive physicals and medical histories we have come to expect from the Fight Surgeons crew, Dr. Garcia was extremely attentive to the fighters and was at the cage when needed, almost before the staff was able to get the door opened. This is exactly what a promoter should be looking for in a ringside physician. A doctor who intently watches the action and reacts before it’s even known by the referee that he is needed can easily be the difference between an injury that ends a fight, and an injury that ends a career. The overall medical care at Supreme will be top notch as long as Garcia is in charge.
Grade: A+ Fight Surgeons provides the absolute best medical care on the amateur circuit, period. When you see the cross in the cage on the back of your doc’s scrubs, you know you’re in good hands.
Officiating: The officials at RRH2 were a bit of an issue. MMA Gospel is still awaiting names and credentials for all three judges and two of the three referees. The judges, when asked directly, were less than accommodating, deferring all questions to the promoter. This, combined with the fact that Supreme did not use any outside sanctioning body, makes it very difficult to be confident that their officials are fully qualified and impartial. All the officials were brought in by Dennis Hughes, the coach of Team No Ego, which had eight fighters on the card. A promotion can claim they are fair all they like, but when their officials are selected by the coach of the team that runs the company, outside verification is an absolute must to justify these claims. When MMA Gospel receives more information on the official’s credentials, this section will be updated. As for the performance of the officials themselves, some adjustments need to be made. Two referees were used for the non-exhibition fights, one for the majority of the card, and one who oversaw the main and co-main events. Both referees did well with only a few minor issues. The first referee had one stoppage that was significantly late for an amateur fight but was otherwise excellent in terms of keeping finger out of eyes, hands off the cage, and fists off the back of the head. The only real issue for either referee came from the use of three minute rounds. Stand-ups were very slow in coming. This is bad in a standard match, but in a three minute round it’s absolutely criminal. The referees should have made the appropriate adjustments. The judging was almost a non-issue as only three fights went to the cards and only one of those was closely contested. The proper man won every fight which points to good officials.
Grade: C+ The fights were well officiated but there were no situations that truly tested their impartiality. This grade will change for the better with confirmation of the officials’ credentials.
Matchmaking: The matchmaking for RRH2 was handled by Dennis Hughes of Team No Ego. No Ego had eight fighters on the card so the fact they didn’t use either an outside matchmaker or at the very least an outside sanctioning company is a serious issue. Again, it is very difficult to convince anyone you are being fair when you book your own team with no third party input. In fact when the fighters are searched on www.mixedmartialarts.com, you find that several Team No Ego fighters received favorable bookings. One glaring example was a No Ego fighter, Chris Haney, listed at 3-1, faced Steven Kick, who comes out 1-4. Despite this, either due to a knowledge of the fighters that goes beyond records or simple luck, the majority of the fights turned out to fairly even bouts. It would be better if Jim and Nic brought in a completely neutral matchmaker or, at the very least, an outside sanctioning body to ensure a balanced card every time.
Grade: C- There were only a couple of bouts that an uniformed observer would say were unbalanced, but this seems to be more luck than design. However, it always looks bad when a trainer books the fighters for his own team and it’s borderline deplorable to do so without any form of third party regulation.
Media: This is where Supreme Promotions really starts to shine. The level of advertising and media coverage on this event rivals any American event that isn’t UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator, or WEC. The fight had extensive local television and radio advertisement. This helped pack the Roundhouse. MMA Gospel has not received an official gate from promoter Jim Jackson yet, but the estimated attendance was roughly 1,000. Every fight had an individual local sponsor, bringing in excess of 20 local businesses in support of the event and the fighters. The bouts were also broadcast on local radio and television as well as a live pod cast and internet stream on Supreme Promotions’ website. Jackson comes from a radio media background and it shows in the media blitz that surrounds Supreme’s events. If you live within 50 miles of a Supreme Promotions show, you will know about it. The live television broadcast is courtesy of the Illinois Institute of Broadcasting, playing the fights on local university campuses. This ensures a large fan base for Supreme Promotions, building a brand name that will get the attention of the big names in professional MMA.
Grade: A+ Supreme Promotions really brings the thunder when it comes to media coverage. While it’s certainly no UFC fan expo, it’s well beyond the kin of any other local promoter due to the deep local connections of Jim Jackson.
Insurance: The issue of insurance is one that is a little murky. Jackson told MMA Gospel that they had the best insurance money could buy for the fights, covering any and all medical expenses a fighter may incur if injured. Unfortunately, MMA Gospel has yet to receive any verification of this insurance. Along with the information on the officials and gate numbers, the insurance information was supposed to have been provided the day after the event by the Supreme Promotions business manager. Also there has, thankfully, not been a major injury on a Supreme card yet. This means that there are no fighters to interview regarding the treatment of their injuries. Update: Supreme Promotions has submited insurance information to MMA Gospel showing comprehensive coverage with well respected combat sports insurance company Laurence Cole Insurance Company. This company has an outstanding track record and Supreme has purchased one of their higher end packages that covers long term care as well.
Grade: A Supreme usees one of the most respected combat sport insurance company’s available. This means that not only does their policy offer full coverage for injured fighters, but that the company they use has an established track record of following through with those policies.
Exposure: Another of Supreme’s strong points is in fighter exposure. Their unique platform of every fight having a sponsor, with each main event fighter having an individual sponsor, provides valuable relationship building opportunities for aspiring professional fighters. One of the hardest parts of making it as a young professional fighter is earning enough money to live while training six, seven, or even eight hours a day. The largest part of this money comes from sponsors, and the Supreme Promotions platform helps fighters line up these sponsors before ever stepping in the cage for their first professional bout. The level of media coverage ensures that the regional professional shows will soon be scouting their fighters if they are not already doing so. The built in sponsorship ensures that those fighters will be supported during their training time for their journey to those shows. Combine this with the television/pod cast interviews done with each fighter following their fights and you find a level of exposure that is difficult to rival on the amateur level.
Grade: A+ When you fight for Supreme, you are on every major media outlet available. It is almost impossible to gain more exposure from a single event as an amateur. Look ma, I’m on TV…and the internet…and the radio…and a podcast…and DVD.
Supreme Promotions provides a top class product for the fans. The unique concept of using local historic locations as venues (such as an upcoming event rumored to take place in the old Joliet prison where Al Capone spent his final days) coupled with the media connections of Jim Jackson and a wealth of resources provided by a multitude of sponsors and you have an event where even the most green amateur fighter will get noticed. The atmosphere was electric at this show and I see no reason why that would change in the future. There are some loose ends that need to be tied up that may make fighters and coaches wary of Supreme Promotions, most notably the fact that the judges, referees, time keeper, and matchmaker are all provided by the team that owns the promotion. These problems can all be corrected with one of two simple acts: hiring an outside consulting firm until such time that the state sanctioning body decides to cover amateur MMA again, or by providing proof that none of the officials, most importantly the matchmaker, is affiliated with any fight team on the card in any way. Keep an eye on Supreme Promotions. As a fan, they are well worth your $25-$40. As a fighter, they are an excellent company to fight for in order to get the exposure and connections you will need as a pro.
Overall Grade: B+ Supreme Promotions provides unrivaled exposure, medical care, insurance, and media coverage. The pitfalls all come from the lack of third party verification on important issues that directly effect the fighters themselves.
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