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Preview of Epicentre Cage Fights 2!

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North Carolina first began sanctioning MMA events a little over two years ago. Many of us thought that once the ban on MMA was lifted, shows would start occurring like wildfire. We were right. North Carolina has quickly become one of the region's leaders in terms of number of MMA events put on every year. In particular, the state has done a good job of instituting an amateur program that has already begun paying dividends. As followers of combat sports know, building a strong amateur infrastructure is key to producing viable pro prospects. With the amateur infrastructure currently in place here, I believe that we'll start to the Carolinas produce more and more quality fighters. But in the brief time that has elapsed since legalization of the sport in North Carolina, I can't recall seeing an amateur card quite as stacked from top to bottom as the one that Fight Lab Promotions will be presenting on March 26th at the Epicentre in Charlotte, North Carolina. This card has drawn so much local interest that it was almost sold out three weeks prior to the show. As of now, there are very few tickets remaining. They will most likely be gone within the next several days so do yourself a favor and go to www.fightlabpros.com and reserve a seat for yourself and get a glimpse of some of the best amateur fighters in the area. There will be seven amateur championships on the line that evening. You'll see a tremendous night of fights and you'll most likely get a glimpse of some guys that will go on to become solid professional fighters. Now, on to the matchups:

(Lightweight Title Fight)- Jacob Allman (5-0) vs. Chris Smith (3-1). Here you'll see two talented young lightweights clash in a five round affair. Smith has impressed early in his career and is coming off of an impressive first round KO in his last bout, needing only 65 seconds to get the victory. As for Allman, there aren't many prospects in the state with more positive reviews than this guy. He's on a tear heading into this championship opportunity and, seeing as how western NC is quickly gaining a reputation for their talent in the lighter weight classes, this one should be an exciting fight for the fans.

 
(Heavyweight Title Fight)- Jeremy Holm (7-0) vs. Tyrone Jackson (1-1). The question here is: Can any amateur heavyweight in any of the surrounding states figure out Jeremy Holm? Virginia's Tyrone Jackson is going to give it a shot. This is a rematch from a fight back in January that saw Holm taking the win by KO. Jackson is trying to set the record straight in this one. Although at 5'11" he's 250 pounds, Jackson is giving away a lot of size against the 6'5, 265 pounds Holm. Don't leave your seat because this one is not likely to go to the scorecards.


(Bantamweight Title Fight)- Matthew Tran (4-0) vs. Kevin Hulin (4-1). This is an interesting matchup between South Carolina's Matthew Tran and North Carolina's Kevin Hulin. Tran has been on cruising to one victory after another, winning by submission just last month and has NOT ONCE been taken out of the 1st round. Hulin is coming off of his first loss so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from it. Also, if I'm not mistaken, he's coming down in weight for this one from the featherweight class. One thing is for sure, he's not taking the easy road at all. With the submission skills of both guys, this is another matchup where the scorecards will probably not be necessary.


(Welterweight Title Fight)- Blaine Thomas (8-5) vs. Jamie Pickett (4-2). I've heard that Blaine Thomas is never in a boring fight. That's certainly been the case in the two instances where I've him compete. Blaine, the reigning Fight Lab champion, is a rangy fighter that reportedly has good submission skills. Jamie Pickett is coming off two straight first round submission wins and will try to parlay that momentum into a championship.


(Light Heavyweight Title Fight)- Zachary Klouse (4-2) vs. George Greaves (2-2). This fight is a rematch from a bout that occurred last April in Fayetteville. Klouse won that matchup by 1st round submission but Greaves is looking to even the score in this one.


(Welterweight Title Fight) Bobby Sellers (3-1) vs. Micah Lail (6-4). 22-year-old Bobby Sellers is coming off his first loss in the cage (a fourth round loss to veteran Blaine Thomas) and will likely want to make a statement in this fight. Two of Bobby's wins have come by way of submission so this should make for an intriguing matchup because all of Micah's wins have been by way of submission (and have typically been early in the fight). Lail has won two of his last three fights, losing only a split decision to Dhiego Lima (an undefeated amateur and now a 1-0 professional fighter).


Some other notable matchups:
- James Davis (4-1) will vie for the Fight Lab featherweight championship against an opponent to be named soon. Davis boasts three victories over fighters that have winning amateur records and is coming off a 1st round submission victory over Kevin Hulin in January.
- Kurtis Cloward (7-2) takes on James Forant (3-1) in an intriguing lightweight matchup. Forant is coming off his first loss (to Jacob Allman by decision) and Cloward is coming off a very impressive 1st round submission victory over previously undefeated Jeff Loken last month. Cloward has multiple ways to beat an opponent and continues to push himself by facing quality opposition. This is one of the fights that I'm most looking forward to on this card.
- The card wouldn't be complete without a North Carolina vs. Georgia matchup. NC's Ricky Rainey (2-0) takes on Casey Baynes (2-0) in a matchup of two undefeated light heavyweights. Rainey only started competing last October but has turned in two very impressive outings, having yet to be taken past 40 seconds of the first round! Baynes also has two first round victories so watch out for some fireworks early in this one. I haven't seen Rainey compete yet but will be interested to see him in person because I've heard that he has a lot of potential.


As you can see, there are a number of interesting matchups and prospects that will be on display on March 26th at the Epicentre in Charlotte. Do yourself a favor and check out this card. Again, for ticket information please visit www.fightlabpros.com before the event is totally sold out.