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GFS: Destiny - Bush vs Hunter

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Kicking off the main card for Friday's Gateway Fighting Series: Destiny is a match-up of fighters with both youth and skill.

Slotted for the first pro bout at the Heart of St. Charles, lightweights Cjay Hunter and Dakota Bush compete in one of the more compelling contests of the evening.

Despite being just 25-years-old, Hunter is a savvy veteran of the cage having tallied upwards of 30 amateur fights (and winning 21 of them) and standing at 3-3 as a pro. It has been almost two years since Hunter has fought locally, traveling to South Dakota to fight for RFA and then followed with a trip to Kansas City for Blue Corner promotions, both of which happening in 2016.

“This is a good opportunity to showcase my skills in front of the local fans,” Hunter said. “I love fighting here. At the end of the day, a fights a fight but it's nice to do it in front of friends and family.”

Hunter put together a 3-1 start – with two finishes- to his pro career. Against Bush, he will try to stop a two-fight skid, both of which came by decision.

“I am real confident about this fight,” Hunter said. “I have been out there a bunch and have won the majority of them. Dakota has a lot of promise and Dakota has a lot of talent but I don't see too many ways he can beat me. I have been doing it a lot longer and I think it is going to show.”

Bush could follow suit like some of Hunter's previous opponents and rely on the takedown.

“I'm aware of his wrestling and him trying to stall me out,” Hunter said. “My three loses as a pro came from guys laying on top of me for three rounds. It's the main thing that I am worried about.”

Hunter has a proven reputation of being hard to put away if Bush should opt to go the slugfest route.

“I have gone toe-to-toe with bangers,” Hunter said. “Alex White (now a UFC lightweight) couldn't put me away on the feet. Time and time again I've stood with legit killers and they couldn't put me away.”

Hunter is one of the stalwarts at Modern Combat Systems. He said the amateur pool there is consistently growing and its pro's are garnering more and more attention. Recently, St. Louis MMA legend Steve Berger has taken to weekly coaching sessions there since closing his gym down earlier this year. Hunter, nicknamed 'The Groundshark', has fully embraced picking the mind of Berger, a wise and gritty grappler.

“I always relish the opportunity to learn from a deep, jiu-jitsu mind,” Hunter said. “To have him around and to learn from him has been nice.”

At 22-years-old, Bush is near the top of the list when it comes to up-and-coming lightweights. Bush is off to a 2-0 start as a pro and this coming on the heels of an amateur career that saw him finish with six consecutive wins, three of which coming against teammates of Hunter.

Bush was a two-time state qualifier as a wrestler in high school. He followed in the footsteps of his dad and took his first MMA fight at 18. He started his amateur career 3-1, primarily training on his own, before partnering up with Patrick Smith. Smith is the longtime promoter of Cage Championships and is the head coach of the Smith Pit, the tiny gym that notably created current UFC middleweight/light heavyweight Jake Collier. Since being under Smith, Bush has yet to lose a fight.

“The biggest thing with Pat is that everything is based off fundamentals,” Bush said. “Until you have those down, you're not going to succeed in the sport. From there, he preaches evolving and he really knows how to break things down. He just gets the sport more than anyone else and with Jake, the proof is in the pudding. Just look at Jake's story. He came from nothing. He was 285-pounds and just wanted to try a fight. I saw what Patrick could with him and thought, what can he do for me? There's not a better striking coach in Missouri.”

Against Hunter, Bush is well aware of his opponents' toughness and resiliency. But he's confident that he can chip away on the feet and get the finish.

“He is really durable and tough as nails,” Bush said. “He's really hard to put away and really good on the ground. I am going to have bring good cardio for sure. I'm prepared for a three-round war. I feel that I can finish things on the feet. We have a few combinations what we've been working on that can put him away. But, I can make it gritty and grimy if I need be.”

For tickets to GFS: Destiny, visit