May 25, 2018
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Weather should not affect outdoor mixed martial arts event at Bangor Waterfront

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Perhaps the most accurate weather forecasts are by novice and professional meteorologists alike when they look out the nearest window to study current conditions.

But for those who organize outdoor events like Bangor’s first mixed martial arts show — slated for the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion on Friday evening — a more refined peek into the future is an inevitable part of the preparation process.

And with the weather forecast for the Queen City on Friday evening calling for cloudy skies, temperatures in the 60s and a 30 percent chance of showers, the promoters of New England Fights’ “Nations Collide: Canadian Invasion” are optimistic Mother Nature will be a good teammate by the time the first fight is set to start at 7 p.m.

“I’m super excited,” said Matt Peterson, co-owner and matchmaker for an NEF promotion that will be staging its eighth card in Maine over the last 18 months, but its first-ever outdoor event in conjunction with Waterfront Concerts.

“I’ve been to outside shows before and seen what works and what doesn’t work. You always take a chance with the weather in the summer whether you’re having a barbecue or putting on an MMA show, but we’re taking every step to ensure fighter safety and a good experience for the fans.”

NEF’s affiliation with Waterfront Concerts provides a familiarity with outdoor productions, given the latter’s experience in bringing some of the nation’s top musical acts to the banks of the Penobscot River in recent years.

The roof of the pavilion extends well beyond the outer edge of the stage, and the cage will be situated on the stage to take maximum benefit of that protection even in a worst-case weather scenario.

“Unless the rain is coming at an obtuse angle into the front of the cage we should be in good shape,” said Waterfront Concerts president Alex Gray. “But more likely at this time of year we’d get a thunder shower or an occasional scattered shower.

“But even if we had an issue with the weather it would be no different than if it was a concert, we’d batten down the hatches for a bit and wait it out.”

Gray, whose company is putting on a concert featuring rock acts Daughtry, 3 Doors Down and Halestorm at the pavilion Wednesday night, said plans call for the MMA cage to be erected Thursday evening.

Beyond that, it’s largely business as usual in terms of show preparation.

“I’ll know better after the show, but apparently it’s a lot easier than what we usually do,” said Gray. “If it were the UFC or Bellator it probably would be more along the lines of what we’re used to doing with very specific guidelines that we must adhere to.

“But in this situation it’s more like a local production. With Phish last week we had seven tractor-trailers, and with this show we’ll have one 24-foot box truck to deal with.”

Maine’s first outdoors MMA show also will represent a first-time experience for most if not all of the fighters on the 15-bout card.

“It’s going to be different,” said Ray “All Business” Wood, a Bucksport product who will be battling Canadian Lenny “The Show Stealer” Wheeler in the main event for the NEF featherweight (145-pound) championship. “Being outdoors won’t be like fighting in my regular comfort zone, but once you get in the cage you can’t see too much of what’s going on outside anyways because of all the lights.”

Wheeler, who plans to arrive in Bangor for Thursday afternoon’s weigh-ins, sees the outdoor setting as a neutral factor.

“It will be new to me, but once you get in the cage it’s probably going to be all the same for both of us,” he said. “You just have to concentrate on what you need to do.”

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