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NFA: Fighting the Stigma

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Saturday night marks the return of the Nemesis Fighting Alliance.

This will be only its third show in three years as Beejay Smith and his partners at NFA have focused on quality over quantity.

"My work schedule is insane so I got to do it the right way," Smith said. "I don't slap shows together to make a buck. I have a career and we like to do shows for the fighters and for good causes, that's usually the route we go. If I don't feel the cause is good enough or if I won't get enough fighters, I won't put on a half-ass show for the sake of putting on the show."

Supporting charitable causes is something NFA has become synonymous for, whether it was their Blackcat Bash in support of Project Graduation or other needy cases, NFA has managed to raise $15,000.

Saturday's event will be in support of Suicide Prevention, aptly titled "Fighting the Stigma."

"Basically, my wife got her Masters in Clinical Counseling, and her professor runs the Southeast chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention," Smith said. "This show is about spreading awareness for the problems of suicide. A lot of people don't like to discuss it but it's a real problem, over 160 people every single day. Whether it is mental illness, chemical imbalance, PTSD, depression, there are an array of problems out there and this is something that needs to be brought to light."

Opening discussions regarding suicide awareness and suicide prevention will be the intertwining theme for Saturday's event.

"We've always been geared toward making a difference, this is one of those things we felt it was time to get behind," Smith said. "Sadly we were thinking about doing this and a local Potosi hero, Brandon Bourbon, took his own life. That added even more motivation to do this show for him."

Bourbon was a Potosi High School football legend and owner of a couple different Missouri High School Football records. An injury while playing at the University of Kansas derailed his promising career.

"He went to Kansas and played for the Jayhawks," Smith said. "One of his best friends got drafted to the Raiders, that was the lifestyle he was living and the path he was on. He was on the path of a career we only dream about and an injury sidelined him at the worst possible time. No one knew what he was thinking. Here he is a young guy in his 20's in great shape, and he's all of a sudden OK with taking his own life. He was extremely talented, extremely caring, and he decides he's not good enough, that's a big deal."

With Bourbon's passing still heavy on Smith's mind, he knew it was time to take action. Five dollars from every ticket will go toward to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

"It was time to tackle this," Smith said. "The support we have gotten is overwhelming. Because we're a no BS promotion we can tackle something like this. My goal is to fill up the 500 seats the place holds. That's a good chunk of change to go to them."

Smith hopes the donation and added awareness can make a difference for at least one person.

"I know quite a few people that have taken their life," Smith said. "Even if you're not close to, you wonder what could lead to that, you don't know what these people are thinking. It's not necessary a selfish act, for some of them they really feel their family would be better without them. That's a serious mindset that needs discussion, it's one of those issues people don't want to talk about."

Saturday's main event features Peter Paplanus returning to action after a 29-month layoff to take on Tyler Madding, who has been very active. This will be Madding's fourth fight in four months having most recently competed for Prime FS on July 23rd. In that time Madding went 2-1 with a very impressive second round submission of Jimmy Sievers at Fight Hard in June. Paplanus' last trip to the cage ended in a first round KO by Chris Petty.

"Peter contacted me through people we mutually know," Smith said. "He was affected by suicide in a personal way, and he really wanted to showcase his skills for the cause. He has been so awesome."

Irfam Mulabitinovic (3-1) will face Rodney Cotten (4-3) in a battle between two fighters who are very comfortable on the ground.

One bout that will most certainty steal the show is between flyweights Steven Coleman and Erik Newman. Newman, the youngest brother of Damian, is resilient and scrappy just like his elder, but a younger version with better wrestling. Coleman (10-1) out of the Academy of Courage has been untouchable with his only loss coming to Charles Johnson, one of the area's best prospects, in late 2015. Coleman has a solid submission game and moves well on his feet. He's also very patient, a stark contrast to Newman's wild, berserker style that often overwhelms his opponents.

"When we lost Josh Boyer's opponent, Steve Coleman told his coach Kain (Royer) that he'd fight Boyer, and then Nemwan later on the card." Smith said. "That is an awesome mentality and it pumps me up. I hear stuff like that and it makes me think I gotta get to work when i hear that. This is 50/50, they bust their ass, and I bust my ass to make sure everything is ready."

Bryan Greer and Alex Macias will tangle in a featherweight bout. Macias defeated Rodney Cotton at Fight Hard earlier in the summer in a very close split decision. Greer, a NFA regular, having competed on many of Smith's events, hasn't competed since losing to Evan Whited in the spring of 2013.

"Bryan is extremely loyal. He worked hard and he will take on any comer," Smith said. "He understands you win and lose in this sport. He has fought anyone I have matched him up with and he's done extremely well. He works, he has kids, this is a hobby for him and he works hard at it. Bryan is the first one to step up and put his name out there. He was close with Brandon Bourbon, he is cutting weight and fighting this fight for Brandon."

Bryan will be sponsored by Beast Mode clothing out of Popular Bluff the brain child of Bourbon.

"From top to bottom these guys have been awesome. I talk to these guys every day to see how things going," Smith said. "Basically just talking to them, see how bloodwork going. It's not just about tickets, tickets, tickets. I'm not a dictator when it comes to tickets. I never tell them they have to sell tickets, but if they want to they're available. "

One bout particularly special to Smith is a match-up between Destruction MMA's Cody Nauke taking on Brandon Aubuchon. This will be the fourth time Aubuchon has competed for Smith.

"Cody trains at Destruction," Smith said. "He's one of Joe's (Worden) guys and he likes to fight, a lot like Bryan. Brandon Aubuchon is the same exact way. They are the last minute guys you come to, you know they're not bums, and they'll fight anyone you put them against. I needed him, he had a Crossfit Completion, but he said 'I'm in'"

With the card locked in, Smith hopes to improve on what was a down year for the promotion. A series of bad luck and scratched fights made for an abbreviated evening, on what is typically an action packed show.

"Last year was rough on me," Smith said. "It hit my ego more than anything. We had an awesome attendance but we lost all these fights because of medical reasons or whatever, it killed my ego. I'm not known for that, I'm known for having some of the best fights with the best production around, and known to have all these viral videos of our fights. We have fights that have views in the millions of views like the 'Usain Bolt Punch' or that submission by Koty Shannon on Brian Borden."

At the conclusion of the event there will be special invite-only wing eating competition featuring several of the friends and supporters from the NFA Family.

"I may only do one show a year but my shows are legit." Smith said.

Peter Paplanus vs Tyler Madding
Irfan Mulabitinovic vs Rodney Cotten
Joe Jennings vs Jonathan Bradberry
Erik Newman vs Steven Coleman
Bryan Greer vs Alex Macias
Derrick Davis vs Kevin Mueller

Josh Davison vs Nick Darnell
Cody Naucke vs Brandon Aubuchon
Jesus Garcia vs Wildman Butler
Dustin Moore vs Calvin Williams
Miles Mclemore vs Dan Baker
Chad Brown vs Sam Stevenor

NFA: Fighting the Stigma
Saturday, August 13th
Arnold Eagles Club, Arnold, MO