Like many of us, Gerald Meerschaert is starting to get a little stir crazy living the quarantine life.
It was just over one month ago that Meerschaert was in Las Vegas, competing in front of a live crowd at the T-Mobile Arena, where he submitted Deron Winn at UFC 248. That was before everything changed due to COVID-19 pandemic.
With stay-at-home orders in place all over the world, five weeks feels more like five months to the UFC middleweight.
“I count my blessings every day,” Meerschaert told MMA Fighting on What the Heck. “It was the last fight in front of a full crowd. I know they had Brasilia right after that, but there was nobody in the crowd, and if I have to start fighting in the APEX like Dana White keeps talking about, I’ll gladly do it.
But it’s always nice to put on in front of the fans live, for one. Two, just the timing of it happening right before (the coronavirus impacted the U.S.) helps out a lot to get through however long this takes. There’s a lot of guys who haven’t fought since last year, even. They’re going to be in a pretty bad way. So I count my blessings every day for that.”
While each fighter’s routine is slightly different, post-fight schedules are pretty consistent. After they reflect on the most recent performance, they’ll typically make their way back to the gym within two weeks, barring any major injuries. The goal is to stay sharp and build upon the recent octagon trip.
With gyms closed around the country, including Meerschaert’s home base at Roufusport, “GM3” feels stagnant since defeating Winn.
“It’s weird in my head right now, because I feel like I’m still on my small break,” Meerschaert said. “After the fight, I didn’t get to go back to the gym like I normally would. It’s kind of like I’ve never gone back, so I’m still on that rest period. But, man, I am itching to get back in the gym. We need to open that back up soon.”
The 43-fight veteran improved his record in the UFC to 6-4 with the victory at UFC 248. Meerschaert arrived at his most recent fight after losing three out of four in the octagon, including two controversial split decisions against Eryk Anders and Kevin Holland.
Meerschaert believes he faced the best version of Winn that’s competed in the UFC after they shared just over 12 minutes in the octagon. In the end, he’s happy with the overall performance.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” he said. “I was coming off a tough loss, and it always feels good to get a win. I always want to go out there and make it look easy. I want to beat someone up and look good doing it. I got caught with a couple of punches and, being honest with myself, whether I have to or don’t have to, for better or worse, I make every fight a fight, if that makes sense.
“There’s never like a one-sided beatdown. I always end up putting myself in a precarious position where I have to battle back, or fight through some sort of adversity. The truth of it is, as cool as it would be to have a clean one-punch knockout, I like fighting people. I like getting in there and mixing it up with people. I had people say to me, ‘How did you let a dude that short hit you?’ Man, I’m not here to play tag and run away, I’m here to fight somebody. If you’re going to get in the kitchen and be a chef, you’re gonna get a little sauce on the apron, and I’m all good with that.”
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC is ready to keep the train moving. The promotion is targeting May 9 for their next event, which could serve as the kickoff for weekly closed-door events at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
Of course, the UFC’s decision to move forward continues to be met with mixed reactions. Controversy or not, Meerschaert is ready to answer the call whenever it comes.
“I’m always gonna want to fight,” he explained. “I’m always going to think I’m invincible, but I know I’m not. The skeptical part of me that believes in numbers and science, I know for a fact that it’s probably not a good idea. But I’m out of my freakin’ mind. I want to fight somebody in a cage. I don’t care if it’s on ‘Mortal Kombat Island’, sign me up. I’ll freakin’ parachute into that mofo. I’ll skydive for the first time in my life just so I can fight somebody.
“We both know that’s what I want to do, right? But I also understand that there’s a very big possibility that that’s not the best idea. You have to be open and willing to hear both sides and guess what? I might know for a fact it’s a bad idea and I might still do it. Going into fighting is probably not the best career move ever compared to what I could do with my life. But I did it anyway, so there you go.”
Meerschaert recently – and very respectfully – called for a fight with Ian Heinisch because of that elusive number attached to his name. Heinisch may have his next fight lined up, as it turns out. So if it can’t be no. 13, Meerschaert is happy with anyone else that will help him ascend the 185-pound ladder.
“Anyone in the top-15, period, I’m more than happy to fight,” Meerschaert said. “Obviously, they’re not going to put me in with somebody in the top-five. I’d take it, but I’m thinking 15, to like 12 or 11, anyone in there, I’m down for.”