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Local pros hit the road

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Three of the region’s top pros have plans for big fights outside the shadow of the Gateway Arch.

Chris Heatherly recently made it known that he has signed to fight top Canadian welterweight prospect Alex Garcia on Aug 16 in the Great White North for Challenge MMA.

Heatherly’s fight announcement almost certainly puts the kibosh on his MMASF fight with Luigi Fioravanti at their Sept. 21 event.

Heatherly and Fioravanti’s original fight was scheduled for June. In a crazy turn of events, Fioravanti fell ill with food poisoning hours prior to the fight and was unable to fight in the much anticipated main event. The Garcia bout definitely threw a wrench into promoter Jim Jenkins’ much-hyped main event for Sept. 21.

“I have seen a few things on Facebook that upset me,” Heatherly said. “But just like him, it’s about business and this is a business move for me. I have a family now and I need to decide if I can make a legitimate career out of this or hang them up.”

Heatherly, who works full-time and runs his own lawn care company, says the strain nights where he is home with his wife and young child for an hour a night are starting to add up.

“I’m doing this because I love to do it,” he said. “But I want to take my passion and make it my career.”

The opportunity to knock off the much-celebrated Garcia, who trains at the famed Tristar Gym, home of UFC welterweight champion and legend, Georges St. Pierre, made it difficult to pass up.

“There was no way I could turn down what they were offering,” Heatherly said. “We had to jump at the opportunity. It’s very winnable. We did our research. There are a lot of things in this fight that we like.”

There’s no questioning Garcia’s standing in Canada.

The 26 -year-old “Dominican Nightmare” is 9-1 in his first nine career fights, and seven of those wins have been first-round stoppages. The lone loss came in an April 2011 bout with Seth Baczynski, before "The Polish Pistola" went to the UFC.

“There are about a million and a half articles on him on Canadian newspapers and websites,” Heatherly said. “No one in Canada will fight this guy. This is a huge step up for me.”

Wright steps up on short notice, again

Featherweight Javon Wright from Modern Combat System has stepped up to take a short notice fight for Rhino FC in Nashville, TN. Wright will be taking on former Strikeforce and XFC veteran Luke Sanders (4-0) out of Nashville MMA.

"Guy got injured, and they needed a 145-pounder" Wright's coach Jared Daniels-Block said.
Wright is no stranger to taking tough fights on a moment’s notice. He raised his hand to face veteran Chase Beebe for Fight Hard MMA last November on just a week's notice.

"I like this fight," Daniels-Block said. "Luke Saunders looks pretty average. Pretty standard ground-and-pounder. I think Javon is a little more well-rounded, and this is a good fight for him to take."

Wright notoriously never takes time away from training.

"He doesn't take any time off," Daniels-Block said. "If you think about it, he really has had a full camp. I don't worry too much about him taking short notice. He puts in the work. I'm not concerned about that in the slightest bit."

Daniels-Block and his stable of fighters have recently partnered up with Mike Rogers and St. Charles MMA.

"They're the best in St. Louis right now." Daniels-Block said. "To be able to have him spar with Sampo, Ricehouse, Alp, Kirk Huff is real good too. My guys feel like they're testing themselves when they go up there. That's why I was open to do that. They say when you train with the best you become the best."

The new training partners have already begun to pay dividends for Wright.

"His ground game and wrestling have improved the most," Daniels-Block said. "He's been a little sharper with the Muay Thai. He has his own unique style."

Confident in his own ability, Wright is eager to test himself against the best.

"He has no fear," Daniels-Block said. "He literally has told me 'just get me a fight, I don't care who, just get me a fight.' I don't think he'd care if it was Anderson Silva. He likes to fight and prove he's the better fighter. I respect him a lot for that, but he's a pro now so he needs to be careful."

Wright last saw action on May 3 for Rumble Time in a fight that saw him KO the always tough Ramon Barber late in the third round. Now 4-2 with losses only to Alex White and Chase Beebe, Wright has proven to be one of the area's best featherweights.

Friday's opponent, Sanders will be yet another difficult opponent for the Woflman.

"This guy will definitely be very tough," Daniels-Block said. "This guy doesn't know anything about Wolfman, and I think Wolfman is just going to be too much for him."

White primed for TV debut

After a razor-thin decision win over Adam Ward, Destruction MMA's Alex White will be taking the next step up, a live televised fight on AXS TV for Titan FC.

White (6-0) has run roughshod over local competition and his three rounds with Chicago's Ward can easily be considered a front-runner for Fight of the Year.

On August 30, White will take the next logical step in his young career with a fight against a very tough Roy Babcock (7-1) from St. Joseph's, MO. Much like White, Babcock has been dominant with an impressive 6-0 start to his pro career after dominating the amateur circuit in the Kansas City/St. Joseph's area.

"Supposedly he's a pretty tough kid," White's coach Joe Worden said. "He's always fought as a 170er, and decided to take his last fight at 155, now he's fighting at 145. Not sure I'd make my debut against Alex."

Worden has been a mentor as well as coach to White and has helped foster the young featherweight throughout his career. Worden saw an opportunity with the Kansas City-based Titan FC, and seized the moment.

"Jim Jenkins gave me the number for this guy at Titan, Joe Wooster," Worden said. "I told him about Alex's background what I thought he was capable of. He called me a week later and said a local kid will take the fight if we want it."

Worden is ecstatic at the opportunity to show off his young protégée and see how he handles the challenge of dealing with the pressure.

"This is his first high-profile fight," Worden said. "His first televised one, and we're anxious to see how he does. He doesn't usually have much pressure on him, and we've really turned up the training. He's doing Crossfit three times a week, Destruction Fight training, other stuff. We plan on doing some traveling, maybe going to Grindhouse. We'll see."

White has a very bright future and a win cements what many already know.

"If he wins he's 7-0, and there are possibility of more fights with Titan,” Worden said. “You never know, we are just kind of doing one fight at time. We don't want to be locked into a big contract.”

Look for Alex White vs Roy Babcock as part of the televised main card for Titant FC on August 30 live from the Memorial Hall in Independence, MO.

Fighters and coaches interested in appearing in future KJ articles? Keep us updated in whats going on at info@knucklejunkies.com

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