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Rumble Time: Relentless - Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Rumble Time Promotions has a busy year ahead with a return to the Chase Park Plaza as well as a recently announced deal with the city of Branson to bring four professional events to the city for the next three years.

But first things first.

Friday night at the Ameristar Casino starts a schedule that will see events almost every month of the year as Rumble Time kicks things off with the aptly titled, Relentless.

After ripping through his first two professional fights, Travis Draper will look to stay unbeaten when he takes on a challenger from Emporia, Kan., in Chuka Willis in the evening's main event.

Draper has spent just a shade under three minutes in his first two professional fights having won by TKO both times. After turning pro last November, Draper looks like a man on a mission. Training under the tutelage of Mike Rogers at St. Charles MMA, the Vaghi blue belt brings powerful punching and a strong ground game to the cage.

Willis won't be an easy out.

"The Lion King" sports a 3-0 record, with two of his wins coming from a one night four-man tournament in August.

The brash Willis landed the first blow having lit up social media with a braggadocios rant assuring victory on Friday's main event. Having felt slighted by the promotion for not being included on the event's poster, Willis went as far as creating his own and submitting it for distribution.

If Willis can survive Draper's initial storm he has a shot.Draper has faded in later rounds in the past, but it's unlikely the newly rededicated up-and-comer will be lacking any cardio. The edge goes to Draper on the ground, and its fairly even on the stand-up with Draper having an edge in the power department and Willis being more unorthodox with his striking.

The already-stacked lineup got an added jolt late Sunday.

Fresh off his victory Saturday at the pro jiu-jitsu event Resepct 1, Zach Freeman is a late addition to the card replacing teammate Jimmy Donahue. Freeman (7-1) as a professional will be taking on Zachary Kelley

The "Altar Boy" (Freeman) is an exciting fighter to watch and considered one of the top pros in the region. Freeman, also from SCMMA, is coming off his first career loss back in June of 2013. This will be his first fight back and his presence cements what was already an exciting card into something really special.

Also on the card is Draper's and Freeman's teammate the talented and sometimes-straweight Dan "Johnny Irish" O'Connor. O'Connor (6-3) took his skills on the road last year with fights for Titan FC in Oklahoma, and XFO in Chicago after starting his pro career off 5-1.

As if he needed any extra motivation, Friday's co-main event bout will be the proud Irishman's third time fighting for Rumble Time on its annual St. Patrick's Day card, having won the first two fights early in the first round.

O'Connor will be taking on Demario Cade in a 115 pound match-up. Although only two fights as a pro, Cade had a very successful amateur career (12-1) including a win over another established local straweight, Kendrick Latchman. Almost all of Cade's wins have came by submission.

While Cade has dangerous submissions, he will need to be pretty slick to submit O'Connor who has been training the grappling arts for many years. You have to give the edge in this fight to O'Connor who simply has way more experience than the younger Cade.

After having not fought in St. Louis for two years while under contract with the World Series of Fighting, Nick Lobosco will return home to take on a yet unnamed opponent.

After winning his pro debut in January, Kyle Kurtz returns to face the returning Anthony Livingston in a feature bout between two exciting young welterweights.

Livingston hasn't stepped into the cage since his KO of Bo Kunz in September of 2013 at the Hollywood Casino. The fight was Livingston's professional debut after a decorated amateur career that saw him take home victories over Aaron Highfill, Brandon Karcher and many others. Livingston knocked the rust off in November in a kickboxing match against UFC-vet Luigi Fioravanti, losing in the later rounds.

If there is any question regarding Kurtz's chin, Livingston will find it, as he hits hard. Kurtz has already lost three times to Livingston as an amateur but feels the change in camps to Steve Berger's Fit or Fight MMA has fixed most of the holes in his game. Expect Kurtz to be in better shape, and if he can use his quickly improving ground game, he stands a chance. He would be wise to not try and stand and trade with Livingston, who is always one punch away from taking home a victory.

Josh Epps and Peo Panyathong round out the main card.

Tickets available from Metrotix or calling 314-662-2000.

The full card:

Travis Draper vs Chuka Willis
Dan O'connor vs Demario Cade
Nick Lobosco vs TBA
Zach Freeman vs Zachary Kelley
Kyle Kurtz vs Anthony Livingston
Josh Epps vs Peo Panyathong

Steve Barbee vs Demitrious Wilson
Oscar Auzhui vs Jerome Young

Ty Flores vs Mike Offor - K1
Lucas Clay vs Montrel James - K1

Rumble Time: Relentless
Friday, March 6th
Ameristar Casino, St. Charles, MO