Army Veteran Will be Fighting the Odds in His First MMA Bout
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
His body has been broken and injured in several places. His foot, ankle and calf have been reconstructed, as well as, he’s had multiple surgeries.
But don’t tell Bill Geiger, 41, that he has no place in the cage for a mixed martial arts fight. He’s heard all of the voices, too.
“Many people say, ‘You are too old, what are you thinking, or are you crazy? And, you’re too broken up,” Geiger said. “I’m proving something to myself. I know I have a lot of fight left in me. I’m going to prove it whether or not anybody sees it. If I lose I’d prove to myself that I got fight.”
Geiger will make his MMA debut Saturday, on a night when the red carpet will be rolled out at the Civic Center for Combat Night 50. The card will be headlined by former Godby High School wrestler Ralph Valdez in a title bout.
When Geiger set out on his journey, he felt heavy doses of nerves, but that has now been replaced by excitement, he said, because he is getting closer to realizing his dream.
“I’m not big on having a bucket list but if I had one, a MMA fight would be on it,” he said. “I would check this off of it.”
The event is a benefit for HireHeroes USA, an organization that advocates hiring of military veterans.
Geiger is a retired Army veteran, who served 20 years. He grew up playing football in Tallahassee and after graduating from Florida High, he tried college ball at Wingate University for one year.
“It was more of a job than it was fun,” he said. “In high school, it was enjoyable and I found that in college it was more of a job without any perks.”
After one year, he ended his quest to be a football player and enlisted in the military, spending most of his years as a reserve. That gave him time over the last two years to spend at Train. Fight. Win. gym, where he caught the MMA bug.
Two months ago, he began a grueling training camp to prepare for his fight.
“It’s hard to compare (to military training) but I would say at times it was tougher as far as the training regiment goes,” Geiger said. “In the military it’s tough because you could be in a different country where its hot and sleeping conditions are not good and have additional task. I think (MMA) is mentally taxing and I think the physical aspect of it is more taxing.”
But he is enduring. Trainer Sky Rudloe described Geiger as a fast learner.
“We weren’t sure he would be able to get through the camp because he hasn’t had a lot of experience,” Rudloe said. “But he stuck with it and he is skilled in the areas that he needed work on. He’s done well with it and I think he is going to have a really good fight.”
Geiger said he has been able to concentrate on his preparation without having to be concerned with cutting weight. He’ll fight in the 205-pound division and won’t have to drop more than a pound or two.
Geiger is counting on his early training in the Mauy Thai form of kickboxing as his strong suit in the bout against an opponent who has a strong grappler style.
“I’m sure he will take me to the ground and I’ll do my best to get up,” Geiger said. “But if I can’t I’ll fight him on the ground.”
He figures he’ll win and Rudloe doesn’t doubt him.
“I don’t know a lot about his (opponent) but I know he can fight,” Rudloe said. “He has the tenacity to get through the fight wherever it goes. What he doesn’t have he makes up for it by grinding through.”