There is a talented crop of young North Carolina fighters in the lighter weight classes that have developed a solid amateur pedigree and will be turning pro soon. One of the fighters leading the way is "Wild" Bill Metts (6-1 amateur record). This Team ROC product has spent the past 11 months competing on the amateur circuit and making a name for himself as one of the toughest featherweights in the region. Metts is the current Elite Championship Cage Fighting 145-pound champion and he has a victory over every opponent that he has faced (he avenged his only loss). This Charlotte based fighter is now looking to take things up a notch and compete as a professional. He knows that the road gets a lot rougher in the pro ranks but the man known as "Wild Bill" wouldn't have it any other way.
Rich Wyatt: Where are you from originally and what is your combat sports background?
Bill Metts: I'm from Franklin, New Jersey orginially. To be honest, I didn't really have an combat sports experience to speak of prior to beginning my training with Team ROC in recent years. I did play a lot of sports growing up, though, like football, hockey, baseball track and field and cross country.
Rich Wyatt: Tell us a little about what it's like to train with the Team ROC guys in Harrisburg (outside of Charlotte).
Bill Metts: It's intense. I train with a great group of guys. They push you to the limit every training session. Hallie "Snake" Hair has a lot of knowledge to share. Reynard Brown has helped me a lot with my jiu-jitsu and Rodney Wallace is great to work with for boxing and wrestling. And working with the other amateur fighters in our gym has been great too. Jordan Rinaldi is great to train with to help with your wrestling and guys like Randy Williams and Jeremy Perdue have also helped me tremendously.
Rich Wyatt: What is a typical week of training like when you have a fight scheduled?
Bill Metts: Prior to a fight I'm in the gym six days a week. I generally will work four days of MMA training and two days of jiu-jitsu training. I've been training in jiu-jitsu for about two years. The folks at Team ROC really do a good job getting me ready for a fight and we all share a drive to improve and keep getting better.
Rich Wyatt: What do you do for a living and, besides training, what kinds of things do you like to do in your free time?
Bill Metts: I work in the culinary field. For fun I really enjoy snowboarding and just spending time with friends. Basically I'm laid back and low key.
Rich Wyatt: As an amateur you had a very balanced record, winning twice by KO, twice by submission and twice by decision. What do you feel are your greatest strengths as a fighter?
Bill Metts: I would say that my cardio is my real strength. Just knowing that you can last through a really tough fight is great. As far as fighting skills go, some guys at the gym tell me that I've progressed evenly, which is what I want. I'm not necessarily better at one thing than another. Of course, it's always nice to punching an opponent and not seeing him there anymore. (Laughs) But I'd say that I prefer to win by submission. It's what I like best.
Rich Wyatt: Who would you say was the toughest opponent that you faced as an amateur?
Bill Metts: I'd probably say that would be Bradley Essick. He's been on a tear recently and has returned to the lightweight division. I fought him originally when we were both competing at 155 pounds. I knew that was going to be a tough fight but I was able to come away with the unanimous decision. He's a good competitor and a good person.
Rich Wyatt: You became the Elite Championship Cage Fighting featherweight champion last year and are now turning pro. When and where are your first pro fight and who is your opponent?
Bill Metts: My first pro fight will be April 10th in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I'll be fighting Michael Turner.
Rich Wyatt: Turner competed at lightweight some as an amateur. Will this be in the 145 pound class?
Bill Metts: Actually, this fight will be at a catch weight of 150 pounds. I do plan on competing at featherweight as a pro, though.
Rich Wyatt: What are your thoughts on the way that the state of North Carolina goes about sanctioning MMA? In particular, do you like the mandatory five amateur fight minimum for amateurs to turn pro in this state?
Bill Metts: I think that, overall, North Carolina does a really good job. For instance, I like the way that they handle the issue of weight discrepancy (with fighters having to stay within a certain range of their weight class following the weigh-in). Weigh-ins are fair and I like the idea of guys being suspended for not making weight. That is really the only recourse the commission has. If my opponent doesn't make weight then I've trained and done all of that work cutting weight for nothing. I like that strictness. I also am a big fan of the five amateur fight minimum rule. I come from a competitive background but it's a big transition to step into a cage in front of a crowd of people and fight. Guys really benefit from that experience prior to turning pro. I'm seven fights in to my MMA experience and I'm just now getting comfortable with it. One thing I don't like, however, is that amateurs can't use knee or elbow strikes to the head of an opponent. This doesn't do fighters any favors, whether from the perspective of the aggressor or the defensive fighter. For instance, if you don't throw elbows correctly you can really injure yourself and, from a defensive standpoint, you can get hurt if you're not used to regularly defending against them. Other than that, though, I've really liked the way that North Carolina has implemented the sanctioning of the sport for amateurs and professionals.
Rich Wyatt: Are there any fighters in this region, in particular, that you'd like to fight in the next year?
Bill Metts: I'm open to fighting anybody. 145 is a dynamic class and there is a lot of talent in this region. I'd like to fight anybody, anytime and anywhere.
Rich Wyatt: Thanks for taking the time to talk with MMA For Real. Are there any sponsors that you'd like to mention?
Bill Metts. No problem. Thanks for the opportunity. I'd like to thank RTX, Cageside MMA and Combat Nutrition.