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Proving Grounds: The Road to Glory - Event Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Eric Clarkson and his partner Jay Goehring have carved out a niche for themselves in the crowded St. Louis MMA market.

Nestled in the heart of Soulard at a classic St. Louis landamark, the South Broadway Athletic Club, Proving Grounds Fight League puts on great amateur fights. No frills, no smoke machines, and to be honest, I'm not sure frills would be welcome at Proving Grounds. Just fights fans want to see featuring the area's best amateurs. Sometimes the crowd gets a little rowdy, but that just helps to color the experience, after all we're not watching ballet.

Back at the December event titled "Blood and Ice", Ronnie Harper defeated "Mean" Mike Green in the main event for the Proving Grounds title. The night was also the last hoorah for a Proving Grounds staple, Ronnie Farmer. Farmer has since passed the torch to his younger brother Jesse, a middleweight with a very bright future.

On Saturday the Proving Grounds returns for the opening round of their 2013 Lightweight Grand Prix. Clarkson has dubbed their March offering, "The Road to Glory" and just taking one look at the poster, this event has a very throwback feel. Eight lightweights from around the area will battle in a single elimination tournament for the title as Grand Prix Champion, a shot at the Proving Grounds title, and training gear from Fastest TKO. Winners will move on to the second round to be held June 1st.

Scheduled to compete in the tourney are: Ben Huskic from St. Charles MMA, Justin Lankford from Berger's MMA, independent Joe Roye, Anthony Livingston from The Fighters Gym, Montuelle Prater and Demarco Montgomery from the Southside Fight Club, Patrick Sparks from Watson's Martial Arts, and Mike Carwille from The Griffins Den.

Prater and Lankford have to be considered the early favorites, but in a format like this, anything can happen.

The main event features four title fights including Jesse Farmer vs Roy Davis, Ronnie Harper vs Harlan Feutral, Andrew Sanchez vs Daniel Baynton, and Steve Barbee vs Zach Wolfe.

Although NAGA will be in town on Saturday, don't look for many submission attempts when Davis and Farmer step into the cage. These two will be throwing leather with bad intentions. Read more about Farmer in our feature from Wednesday.

In the co-main, Ronnie Harper will look to add another notch in his belt. Successful in December against Green via armbar, the Granite City kid from Brother's MMA will look to do the same against Harlan Feutral from Battle Grounds MMA. Feutral tangled almost a year to the day for Cage Time Promotions with Harper getting the decision. If Feutral gets his way this will be a stand-up battle. Harper comes out strong early, and almost always gets the early takedown. If Feutral can survive the early onslaught it will go a long way towards him winning the fight.

Sanchez and Baynton look better each time they fight. It's only fitting in the age of social media that a match between these two youngsters was made on Facebook. The two were in talks to fight back at the ill-fated GFL from January, but when that didn't happen the match was moved to Proving Grounds. Baynton will have the advantage in size and experience but both fighters have great heart and tenacity. There will be no quitting by either one in this one, look for this one to go to a decision.

Wolfe is a last minute replacement to take on Barbee. Wolfe was victorious a few weeks ago at the Blackcat Bash in Fredericktown when he broke the arm of Wil Alfaro. Wolfe, now 5-0, is a very scrappy kid, with slick submissions.Barbee will have to use his speed advantage to stay out of the guard of Wolfe or it could be a short night and a trip to the ER for the flyweight from Modern Combat Systems.

Title Fights
Roy Davis vs Jesse Farmer
Harlan Feutral vs Ronnie Harper
Andrew Sanchez vs Daniel Baynton
Steve Barbee vs Zach Wolfe

Grand-Prix Fights
Ben Huskic vs Justin Lankford
Mike Carwille vs Montuelle Prater
Patrick Sparks vs Joe Roye
Anthony livingston vs Demarco Montogmery

MMA Undercard
Roddell Thomas vs Robby Harper
Matt Murphy vs Cody Wonstofer
Leon Finch vs Kaleb Nadler

Proving Grounds: Grand-Prix 2013
"Road to Glory"
Saturday - March 23rd
South Broadway Athletic Club
Doors @ 6, Fights @ 7