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Cage Champs: Past, Present, Future

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

The road to putting on half-a-hundred mixed martial arts shows is naturally going to be filled with a few potholes, a couple of detours, and some improvised navigation.

Last Saturday night in Sullivan, Patrick Smith closed the door on show No. 50 for Cage Championships. As post-fight backslaps and cameraphone shots were snapping off around him, Smith was smiling but scratching the back of his head.

In a humdinger of a main event, Ty Flores won a unanimous decision over Denver Sells, a crackerjack prospect of Smith’s and his Cuba-based Smith Pit gym. Their fight was not only the crown jewel of Smith’s 50th show but also for a Spire Sectional middleweight championship. Flores survived an early onslaught and grinded Sells down to the nub.

The early back and forth and Flores’ ability to comeback from the brink of defeat had the crowd still standing and chatting long after the bout.

“It was frustrating for me and fun for everyone else,” Smith said.

Now Smith can turn his sites on the next matter at hand; Jake Collier’s UFC debut. Smith has worked steadfast in making Collier a top of the heap 185-pounder. Collier (8-1) won the RFA middleweight title in October and a week later signed a UFC contract and will make his debut on Dec. 20 in Brazil for a UFC Fight Night against Vitor Miranda (9-4).

KJ cornered Smith and talked to him about the history of Cage Champs, the future for Collier and all in between.

KJ: What got you into this?

PS: “I was always into it and there just was nothing around. You had Springfield and that was about it. My first card had 12 fights scheduled but only three actually happened that first night at Central College. I went in head first, used my own equipment, my own sound, lights, the full boat. Would I do it differently now? Yes.”

KJ: This was?

PS: “September/October, 2006. So just do the math to get to 50. It was back-to-back. In 2008-09 it got really good with all legit talent, no scrubs. You look at the posters and it looks like a UFC card. It’s so saturated now. It’s not meshing like it should. Gyms don’t have control of their fighters, It’s like the wild, wild West. You either whine and lay down or innovate and move on.”

KJ: Have you ever wanted to quit?

PS: “At that first show I wanted to crawl under the cage and die. I expected so much and it didn’t happen. I spent $3,000 on t-shirts and ended up giving them away, throwing them out of the cage. It was $45 a ticket and I felt horrible. But it was hard to describe what happened. The people loved it and were telling me all of these good things and I was like, what just happened? But they weren’t used to seeing it. It was new to them.”

KJ: It has been a crazy ride for Jake

PS: “We knew going into the RFA fight that we had a good game plan. (Miranda) is different. He’s an old school, tough kickboxer. You always have to be worried about the ground but I think American wrestling can shut him down. The stand up is going to be key. He’s tough to knock out.”

KJ: What did you think of his RFA performance (a 1st round submission of Gabriel Checco)?

PS: “That wasn’t how Jake fights. It wasn’t his cleanest fight by any means. We both thought the same thing; it was great to win it but it wasn’t his most polished fight.”

KJ: His confidence seems through the roof.

PS: “We had a plan and it fell together and it’s still falling together. You still pinch yourself even if you planned it. People would hound me, ‘You need to get Jake in Bellator,’ We had a plan, we stuck with it and it fell in line like we wanted to.”

KJ: Can you talk much about your upcoming endeavor with JW Wright (Wright and Smith are teaming to put on an extravagant Brazilian Jiu Jitsu event, Respect 1, early in 2015)?

PS: “St. Louis has not seen anything like it. It will be an all-star cast. It came together after I got in contact with JW about him doing a super fight on one of my MMA shows. This opportunity came up and I said, let’s do it.”

KJ: Do you have anything left to say about 50 shows?

PS: “I just want to thank the gyms for being there. The Roger’s, the Berger’s and also the Flying Dragon has been there since day one. Even when they don’t have a fighter on the card they buy 20 tickets.”