Things were a lot different then, when Meerschaert first put on the gloves and was making his bones in his home state of Wisconsin, fighting for the Freestyle Combat Challenge promotion. By his eighth fight, he was 6-2 and starting to find his way. And he wasn’t thinking about UFC glory at that moment.
“When I first started, I stumbled often early on, and then I got a nice little streak going and I was just excited to be in there and excited to fight,” he said. “And it was a different landscape, too, because a lot of the guys on the old shows like that, maybe they wrestled a little bit or they boxed a little bit or they’re just jiu-jitsu guys or weekend warriors who want to get in there and make some extra cash, so some of the guys were decent opponents and some of the guys were what you would consider now to be kind of gimme fights. So it was a little bit of that, a little bit of youth and just being hungry.”
But did he think 13 years later he would still be doing this, making a living for himself in the sport’s biggest promotion?
“I thought I could do that because I had guys in the gym that even if they hadn’t gotten to the UFC, they were making money other places doing it, and I was like, ‘Well, if I can make this a living, I’m gonna do everything I can to do that,’” he said. “Even around that time, the UFC was gaining more mainstream popularity, so you never know what’s gonna happen. At that time, I probably figured I was gonna be world champ in the next two years (Laughs), but I was just happy that I had a job doing what I love.”
And he still loves it, which made the Summer of 2020 such a frustrating one for him, filled with a loss to Ian Heinisch and a couple fights with Ed Herman scrapped. But now he’s got a fight that has him amped up and ready to get back on track.