HURON — Mixed Martial Arts referee Bobby Wombacher has worked events at venues of all shapes and sizes, but one that he still raves about today is an event put on by Knockout Events Inc. on March 4 in De Smet.
“It was a small town where obviously I hadn’t been, and I thought it was kind of an odd place to have an event,” Wombacher said of his earlier visit to De Smet. “But, when I got there for the event, it was jam-packed, wall to wall. It was unbelievable.
“It was great,” he said. “I tell everybody about it. Obviously, there were more people there than were in the town, and it was amazing.”
Wombacher, who has refereed events in 27 different states, returns to the area today for a 7 p.m. fight card at the Nordby Exhibit Hall on the South Dakota State Fairgrounds presented by Knockout Events Inc., which is owned and operated by Josh and Jenny Wilk of Huron.
The UFC Fight Night 91, which was held July 13 of 2016 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls serves as the biggest event Wombacher has refereed thus far. However, that is about to change, as he is scheduled to referee during the UFC 218 on Dec. 2 in Detriot, which will be available for viewing on Pay Per View.
“The communities really come together,” Wombacher said of events similar to tonight’s. “I ref in big cities, like I’m going to Detroit and I have done Las Vegas, but you get to the smaller communities like this and the passion and everything is unmatchable.”
With his duties, Wombacher gets an up-close view of what the fans come to witness during each event. He has grown an appreciation for what goes on inside of the cage.
“What I like is, I know the time and preparation it takes for the fighters to get ready for the fights. I enjoy seeing the skill sets that each person brings in,” Wombacher said. “Everybody has a game plan and to see how it unfolds for each person is exciting for me to be a part of.”
Headlining the bout sheet for tonight’s event will be a professional 155-pound title fight between Doug Jenkins and John Duvall. Also included on the card, which could feature as many as 11 fights, is an amateur 145-pound title fight between Afrem Gebreanenia and Jesse Mack.
Advance tickets for tonight’s event are available at Manolis Grocery in downtown, and general admission tickets will be sold at the door, which opens at 6 p.m.
PHOTO BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN
Afrem Gebreanenia, left, and Jesse Mack face off following weigh-ins on Friday for the amateur title fight tonight at the Nordby Exhibit Hall.