Royer Ready for the Pros
Sitting in his office in Lake St. Louis is where I find Kain Royer. Looking over an upcoming card he's matchmaking and cutting weight.
Multitasking has become an important skill for Royer as part of the new responsibilities he's taken on as matchmaker for Fight Hard MMA and coach at its gym. He's also on the verge of making his professional MMA debut, but make no mistake, Royer is focused on his passion, fighting.
The 33 year-old Royer has been fighting for roughly five years and racked up an impressive 10-2 record in that time. His only losses coming to top-ranked competition in the form of now pro Chris Heatherly and Spire's #2 ranked welterweight Raymond Gray. Gray recently knocked off the previously untouchable Chad Williams, handing Williams his first loss.
"I always tried to fight the best opponents out there," Royer said. "I was never afraid to fight anybody. If they put somebody in front of me, I wanted to fight them."
Royer quickly took to MMA, rattling off a string of wins, a streak that was highlighted by a submission victory over Brian Schell.
"He was the first person I fought that was considered really good," Royer said. "Everyone counted me out. That was on a Finney's card and he was a Finney's guy. All those guys though he was going to beat the crap out of me, and it was kind of fun to prove them wrong. "
The victory over Schell was a highlight that setup a fight with now-good friend Chris Heatherly. A fight that has become part of the folklore of the local fight community with Heatherly landing a devastating kick to the head for the KO.
"I thought Schell would be a really good test for me," Royer said. "After winning that fight I thought I was on top of the world and thought I could take Chris Heatherly on too. He turned out to be a little too much for me at the time."
Royer racked up three victories in 2013 and feels ready to take the next step.
"To me it's all about getting the tools and the experience to move on to the next level," Royer said. "That's really all it is. I wasn't out there to get belts or beat any specific people. It was just to hone my own skills and I think I'm ready for the next level and test my skills there."
Having flirted with both middleweight and welterweight, Royer has made the commitment to fight at 170.
"It's a good weight for me, but it's not super easy to get to," Royer said. "I think that's where I should be. I recently had a surgery where I put on several pounds. This is my first cut back to 170 and I think it will be easier after this one."
Royer ballooned up to 220 after neck surgery that left him essentially bed ridden for several months.
"It was tough," Royer said. "All I could do was sit there and gain weight. With my stature, if I'm not running I'm gaining weight."
Michelle Pearce, Royer's significant other and rising MMA prospect in her own right has been credited for helping get the welterweight back to his fighting shape.
"Having her in my life has been a Godsend," Royer said. "She keeps me on point, I keep her on point. It's really cool because we can really help each other. When cutting weight it's awesome to have some there giving you encouragement, letting you know you can do this. That means a lot."
Pearce, now 3-0 as an amateur, has looked very impressive in the cage. Being on the sidelines is something Royer has found somewhat challenging.
"The first time she fought I puked I was so nervous" Royer said. "I was a wreck, she beat up the girl pretty good though. I go through some serious stuff when I'm cornering people. I get way more nervous with that than fighting myself."
Pearce will be joying Royer on this weekend's card fighting Wendy Jullian out of the War Room. Royer will have to juggle both fighter and coach roles on Saturday.
In September, Pearce and Royer took over responsibilities at the Academy of Courage in Lake St. Louis.
"We started with just a few members," Royer said. "With the previous management there were only two or three members in and out. We have close to 30 people now. We have a set schedule, classes. Everything is going smooth at this point. Couldn't be better really."
Royer was a long-time member of Jermaine Andre's Academy before leaving to train and coach full time in Lake St. Louis. Working as a personal trainer across the street from Andre's, Royer took a suggestion of a friend to visit the academy, fell in love with MMA, and the rest is history.
"They were the first people to teach me about Martial Arts, and I respect them for that." Royer said. "Sometimes I miss it. I definitely miss having those guys train with me and telling me what to do. Also I've kind of grown as I've gotten to see different perspectives. I've trained with a lot of different camps. Before I wasn't able to do that, and now I get to see other perspectives."
The freedom to mix up the training has lead Royer to spend time at St. Charles MMA, Finney's Hit Squad, and many other places. Royer is now 3-0 since leaving Andre's.
"I hate to say I've really gained a lot after leaving, because I really didn't" Royer said. "It's always been me against the world. I've always been there to train myself. I learn things from different people, but when it comes down to it and that cage door closes, you're the one in there. You better have trained yourself mentally and physically as well."
For Saturday's fight, Royer has sought experts in different disciplines to get him prepared.
"I've trained boxing with Mike Wood, I've trained kickboxing with Kevin Engel, I've trained jiu jitsu with Kirk Huff." Royer said. "I've trained with the best around in their area so I'm definitely prepared."
On Saturday Royer will step into the cage against UFC Welterweight Tyron Woodley's training partner and Muay Thai coach Luke Nelson. Nelson looked impressive in his last outing when he dismantled Zach Burchman just seconds into their fight.
"I don't really know a whole lot about him." Royer said. "From what I hear he's really good in all areas. I'm just going to try and feel him out. He's only had a couple fights, so I think I have the experience factor on him. Hopefully that will play a key factor."
Watch Royer vs Nelson as part of the main card on Shamrock FC: Invincible this Saturday at River City Casino in South County.
(Photo and logo courtesy of Shamrock Fighting Championships)