Road to Bellator: Meredith vs Dowdy
When welterweights Adam Meredith and Jordan Dowdy face off at Bellator 145, the hierarchy of who's the best 170-pound fighter in the area will be a bit more clear.
Meredith, fighting out of St. Charles MMA, has long been considered to have the potential to be one of the region's best. His height and reach is a tough match-up for most welterweights. That, plus a strong jab, makes him hard to deal with on the feet. When you mix that with a strong wrestling and an ever-improving submission game, Meredith is the total package.
Dowdy, a Jay D'Amato disciple, crafted his cage skills under the tutelage of Steve Knogl at CMMA in Pontoon Beach, IL. Dowdy is quick and tactically elusive, and with the addition of elbows to his game, has proven he can be deadly from any position on the mat, even the bottom.
For Dowdy the road to Bellator was a bumpy one. Following a loss to Bo Kunz in 2012, health issues forced him on the shelf for over a year. He returned stronger and fitter in late 2013 and went on a tear, winning all of his remaining amateur fights in just over 13 months before turning pro April of this year.
"When I came off the injury and that layoff I had, getting my health in order, I was still training and I hit the ground running." Dowdy said.
A lack of amateur competition locally in a notoriously thin division signaled it might be time to take the next step.
"There weren't that many amateurs that were even around at that time." Dowdy said. "So that became my goal to turn pro at the end of the year. I've always kind of known where my level was and Steve had a plan with me. But when it came to the point where there weren't many amateur fights left, it was time to test the waters as a pro. That was the ultimate goal anyway."
With the jump in competition level, Dowdy felt the need for change. A new job at Sub Zero Cryotherapy in Chesterfield freed him up to increase his training and the results have been evident.
"This year has been awesome," he said. "I've had a lot of success, changing jobs and coming here to work at Sub Zero has been great. Stress is a poison to the soul. You don't recover right, you don't train right, you're training angry for anger management purposes instead of doing it for fun. When it became fun again, I just hit whole new levels."
Another change for Dowdy has caused a shift in the dynamics of his training and training partners. Dowdy has been supplementing his time at CMMA with evenings at the War Room in nearby Alton, IL.
"I was talking to Aaron Highfill and we started talking about training together." Dowdy said. "We knew together we could really push each other in certain ways because of the differences in our styles When I got to the War Room I met other people and that door just kind of opened up even more. If you see any of the highest level fighters and the gyms they train at, very few go to one gym for everything. If you keep doing the same old things you'll eventually find someone who isn't doing that and they'll put the hurting on you."
There is no drummed-up beef between these two top talents. Maturation and respect flows both ways.
"I've always thought (Meredith) was one of the guys on top of the heap." Dowdy said. "He's had trouble finding fights. Most people don't know but I have as well. I really like Adam. We talk and we're on good terms. We thought this was a fight that would happen down the road, maybe for the Bellator 3-fight deal through Shamrock or something. This was presented to us, it was a big opportunity so we took it. It's just business."
There are similarities aplenty between the two.
"Adam is very well rounded," Dowdy said. "We're a lot a like in a lot of ways. Both college educated, smart guys. We're about the same height. My brother is even taller than him, he's on the mend and I've been able to drill some stuff with him. So I've had the body types around. A little bit different styles. This is just one of those things where we take our skills into it and the outcome is the outcome."
Fighting in the Scottrade Center is dream of many. It's the largest venue in the city and an opportunity that's only been afforded to a relatively small club. A confident Dowdy doesn't believe the nerves will be an issue.
"I don't even notice the crowd," Dowdy said. "I don't even think about it until it's over. I've had doctors tell me that my heart rate is the lowest of anybody they check on fight night. I've trained so hard it doesn't matter. Why be nervous? It's wasted energy. Be calm and confident in your training and let the outcome be the outcome."
Meredith's journey to Bellator started on the mats at Lindenwood University. He fought his first four amateur fights as a loner, but it was a teammate on the Lindenwood wrestling team that brought him to his eventual home at St. Charles MMA.
"Back in like 2009 was the first time I walked into SCMMA." Meredith said. "That was back in the first school. One room. I think we had like a wrestling mat and a heavy bag. (Josh) Sampo was training there, and I knew him from Lindenwood. We wrestled together briefly. I knew they had a tough group of guys and a lot of good fighters. It was a big step up in training for me from training by myself to training with those guys. Training there was one of the best thing to ever happen."
Meredith spent the bulk of his amateur career at middleweight and was one of the top fighters in the area before turning pro and then amassing a 4-1 record at welterweight. Along the way as an ammy he would tangle with some of the area's toughest fighters like Jake Collier, Hugh Pulley, and Raymond Gray.
"I've had a weird career." Meredith said. "I started fighting like seven years ago. Then I took a year off after I graduated college. I moved to Texas for about a year. That whole time I was in Texas I didn't train or fight. I came back to Missouri and maybe a year, year-and-a-half after I got back I finished out my ammy career. Then took another year off after going pro. Fought again. Then took another year off. I have had two-to-three really long layoffs. So now it's nice to have the momentum and to be dedicated in taking this somewhere."
With the time away has come less damage. Meredith has been able to keep his overall health good with plenty miles left on his body.
"If there's a silver lining to the long breaks it is that I've allowed my body to rest." Meredith said. "Probably some things that happened, if I would have kept pushing or kept fighting, I could have went from minor injury to something serious. Obviously the downside is the ring rust. When your timing is good and you take a break it kind of unravels that stuff."
Meredith knew it was just a matter of time he and Dowdy would meet once they were both under contract with Shamrock FC.
"Jordan's real cool. We were supposed to train prior to this, but our schedules never really matched-up where we could get together." Meredith said. "I've known he's an up-and-coming, solid welterweight in the area. When I saw he signed with Shamrock, I knew. We both kind of expected it to be down the road, but when a big show like this comes to town and they make a great offer, you have to take it. I have a lot respect for him for and we'll probably train after the fight. But I have to take the opportunity as it is and go from there."
In Dowdy, Meredith sees a resemblance on how they approach fighting.
"We're both very well rounded," Meredith said. "Our body styles are similar. We're the same exact height. I'm a pretty big 70, just like him, so there are a lot of similarities there. But the biggest thing is our mental games and the way we take our approach to fighting. It's definitely an interesting match-up because of how much we're alike."
Meredith's teammate, Matt Ricehouse, fought for Bellator President Scott Coker on the now defunct Strikeforce when they passed through town. Ricehouse would go onto to fight for the organization four more times throughout his career.
"Absolutely, I've considered that," Meredith said. "I view this as much more than another opportunity to showcase my skills but to get the right eyes to setup other opportunities down there road."
Top billing at the November 6 event features two world title bouts when Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (24-2) defends his strap against Daniel Straus (23-6) and Will "Ill Will" Brooks (16-1) meets submission specialist Marcin Held (21-3) with the 155-pound belt on the line. Bellator 145: Vengeance on Spike will also feature a rematch pitting "Iron" Michael Chandler (13-3) against David "The Caveman" Rickels (16-3, 1 NC).
Tickets for Bellator 145: Vengeance, which start at just $30, are on sale now on Ticketmaster.com and at the Ford Box Office at Scottrade Center. Doors for the event open at 5:00 p.m. CT local time, and the first contest takes place shortly after.
Bellator 145: Vengeance airs live on Spike at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary bouts will stream on Spike.com at 7 p.m. ET.
Full card: (Subject to change)
Patricio Freire (24-2) vs Daniel Straus (23-6)
Will Brooks (16-1) vs Marcin Held (21-3)
Emmanuel Sanchez (11-2) vs Justin Lawrence (7-2)
Michael Chandler (13-3) vs David Rickels (16-3, 1 NC)
Bobby Lashley (13-2) vs James Thompson (20-14, 1 NC)
Alex Huddleston (6-1) vs Augusto Sakai (8-0)
Chris Heatherly (9-3) vs Vince Eazelle (9-2)
Garrett Mueller (2-0) vs Scott Ettling (3-0)
Kain Royer (1-2) vs Clay Mitchell (1-0)
Adam Cella (6-4) vs Chel Erwin-Davis (2-1)
Steve Mann (11-2) vs Hugh Pulley (5-2)
Kevin Engel (4-0) vs Kyle Kurtz (4-1)
Garrett Gross (6-4) vs Luke Nelson (2-1)
Adam Meredith (4-1) vs Jordan Dowdy (2-0)
Brandon Lowe (0-0) vs Rashad Lovelace (1-0)
Bellator 145: Vengeance
Friday, November 6th
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO
Photos courtesy of Jimmy Range Photography