The fight with Trevin Giles was close heading into the final round, and you wouldn’t have blamed Gerald Meerschaert if he started having flashbacks to his previous bout with Kevin Holland, one which he lost by a controversial split decision.
“I wouldn't say I was having flashbacks, but I knew it was probably a round a piece, and in my head, I said I got to get the finish,” recalled Meerschaert. “I know for a fact that if I tell myself I need to get the finish, I'm either going to finish them or be in such a dominant position that I'm gonna steal that round. I felt like I needed the finish for sure, especially after a split decision loss like that. And I think the way to do it was definitely to put the guy to sleep.”
At 1:49 of the third round, Meerschaert hit the guillotine choke that put an end to Giles’ night and kept “GM3” from a three-fight losing streak. Now he’s back in the win column, back on the main card for a meeting with Eryk Anders in Tampa on Saturday, and back in a position where he can start making plans again.
“In my head, I'm always making plans about what's the fastest route to get to the belt, but right now, I've got a real tough test in front of me in Eryk Anders and then after that one I think I can make a pretty strong case as far as picking the right couple fights that will get me to that upper echelon.”
A look at Meerschaert’s body of work over the course of his 12-plus years in the pro game will make it evident that he’s among that upper echelon, even if he’s had his setbacks along the way. And if you look deeper at those setbacks, they come from a good place, as Meerschaert’s desire to end fights has often left him open to an opponent’s best weapons. So how can you blame a fighter for that?
“Mindset has something to do with it, for sure,” he said. “It doesn't make sense to me that you win a fight by scoring points. I'm not saying it can't happen; obviously, I've done it before. And sometimes you look for the finish and you just can't get it. But when I go into a fight, I don't really feel like I've won unless I force the ref to stop me or I force the other guy to tap in some way, shape or form. So to me, the finality of a finish, that's what really brings people into fighting. People don't want to see decisions, even if they're kind of lopsided. They want to see a definite winner and take the judges out of it. So I try to do that, and I think you do it for so long it becomes habit. It's definitely not a bad thing. Sometimes it puts me in bad positions and, for better or worse, in that sense I guess I'm one of those guys who live by the sword or die by the sword. If we go in there, one of us is getting put away one way or the other, and I think that's one of the things that people like about watching my fights.”
Yeah, if Meerschaert isn’t on your “must see” list, you need to get him on there ASAP. And though talking about being a finisher is nice, delivering on such promises is better, and the 31-year-old from Milwaukee has done just that, with his last 12 victories all ending before the final horn. Then again, nine of his 11 pro defeats have also gone without a visit to the judges’ scorecards, making you wonder if his coaches at Roufusport have had a little conversation with him about pulling back a bit.
“They definitely love that I've got that finishing mentality, but we have worked on being comfortable in a winning position and holding that position long enough that you force your opponent to give you an even easier chance to finish them,” Meerschaert said. “That way I don't have to force the issue so much; I can make them make a mistake for me. It's the difference between somebody who's just chucking haymakers and somebody who will go for their setup and pick their shots.”
In other words, expect Meerschaert to still be fishing for a finish against Anders, but doing so in a less reckless way, which is a good strategy against an opponent who has the power to punish mistakes instantly.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea of how he's gonna try to fight me,” said Meerschaert. “He looks pretty similar in most of his fights, but I will give him some credit; he's not a one-dimensional striker. Obviously on the feet he's not gonna be dancing around too much and there's gonna be some big punches, big left hands, big hooks. He'll mix in some uppercuts and there's not really a lot of kicks going on, but he will try to take guys down and he'll go to the ground with them. I know he's been saying that I'm not gonna take him down and it's not gonna go to the ground, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he shot on me because I've seen him do stuff like that. At this point, I've got the look of his fighting style and I’ve got a pretty good idea of how he'll approach it, but I'm not ruling anything out as far as him shooting a takedown or trying something crazy.”
That’s the beauty of having 40 pro fights. Surprises are rare, and if it can be done over the course of a 15-minute bout, Meerschaert has seen it. All that’s left is executing, and if he does, the world will look a lot different to “GM3” on Sunday morning.
“It's always the same nerves before a fight, but in this specific instance, when I get this win, it will put me in a really good position,” he said. “My UFC record after that, if everything goes according to plan, would be 6-3 and then I can start calling people out, trying to get traction as far as getting myself into title contention. I'm starting to get to the point where I'm comfortable in the UFC, I'm comfortable with myself and my fighting style and my skill set, and I'm ready to make that next jump.”
So it’s a good time to be Gerald Meerschaert?
“You know, it's not bad,” he laughs. “I'm pretty happy where I'm at, and if I can keep my winning ways going, it's gonna be good for sure.”