Monday, March 12, 2007

A visit with Jami Klair, ultimate fighting promoter

By Ben Pherson

Red Wing native Jami Klair is a mixed martial arts (also known as ultimate fighting) promoter in the Rochester area and throughout the Midwest. Klair puts on the Battle at the Barn events in Rochester.

Klair has been in the business four years. His next promotion is Battle at the Barn 19: Best of the Best. The event will be Saturday, March 24 at Graham Arena.

Post-Bulletin: Your upcoming event has been billed "Best of the Best." What fight are you most looking forward to?

Klair: All (four of) the title fights are going to be pretty exciting. They're all very evenly matched. I think if I had to pick a fight of the night, it'd be Nick Boulware vs. Austin Judge. Nick's an exciting standup fighter, and Austin's tough, too. So that should be good. And the (Aaron) Vold vs. (Jeremy) Lafferty fight should be exciting, too.

P-B: Name a fighter maybe people haven't heard of who will surprise during Battle at the Barn 19.

Klair: Justin Duden. He just got back from training in Brazil with Team Chute Box. Justin is pretty smart with his training. He doesn't fight unless he's totally ready. He's really pretty smart up and down.

P-B: What's the toughest part of putting on an event such as this?

Klair: I would say, and maybe it's not the toughest but it's the most frustrating, just keeping the card from falling apart. Guys get hurt in training and guys pull out for personal reasons. When a promoter is thinking of a card two months in advance, hoping to put together the best card, we're usually just happy if it stays together.

P-B: What's the biggest misconception about mixed martial arts?

Klair: The first thing that comes to mind is the nature of the sport. It gets labeled as human cock-fighting. People don't understand how much science is involved in this sport now. People hear the name, ultimate fighting, and that just brings a thought to their head. Really, it's more than just a fight. And I think there's a big misconception about the safety of these events.

P-B: Should fans be worried about Graham Arena selling out for the upcoming event?

Klair: Well, we can fit about 2,500 people in there. I think the floor seats, the ring-side tables, and really all the VIP seating will all be sold out. It's highly unlikely we'll sell out all the general admission seating. We're expecting 1,500-plus.

P-B: Would you ever consider bringing in a big-name fighter from the Ultimate Fighting Championship or PRIDE for one of your shows?

Klair: Yeah, we may have something like that in the works coming up. We're not quite sure yet on the details; I'm actually working on something with Monte Cox (the sport's top manager; he's also a promoter). We're talking about bringing in some of the top-tier guys from Minnesota, guys like Travis Wiuff, Sammy Morgan, Nick Thompson. We'd like to let 'em bang, see what happens.

P-B: Tom Speer is on your card again. What's his status?

Klair: Tom was originally scheduled to fight Devon Christian for the Ultimate Combat Sports (Klair's organization) welterweight title, but Devon sustained a serious shoulder injury that will require surgery. We decided to strip him of his title, since he'll be out for so long. Then we planned to have Tom fight Justin Roehning, and he was recently injured. So we're down to the third alternate, Andy Normington. I did a lot of background research on Andy. He's a good striker, a good wrestler. As for Tom Speer, he is signed with Monte Cox. This was really a favor I was asking of his manager. Tom helps my show because he's local, and he brings in a lot of people.


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