Many sports fans enjoy following recruiting. In fact, websites that specialize in following recruiting for sports teams are cropping up everywhere. This is partly because people want to follow their team's activity more closely. However, there is also something entertaining about getting a glimpse of the next crop of football/basketball/baseball talent. The fight game is no different. Many fans enjoy following the grass roots/regional scene precisely because of the fact that they will occasionally get a glimpse of a fighter that could compete in a major promotion someday. If you follow the burgeoning MMA scene in the Carolinas at all, chances are that you've heard of Matt "Spiderman" Tran. In recruiting terms, Matt Tran would likely be considered a blue-chip prospect. Hailing from Easley, South Carolina, this 24-year-old Bantamweight fighter stands 5'11" tall. What makes Matt so special? His manager, Michael "Cornbread" Allen mentions his grappling: "He's a natural at it. He doesn't have any rank in jiu-jitsu and we don't train off our backs a lot but he's got a natural ability to grapple at a high level. Some folks work for years and years and never develop the skills Matt has. He's also very strong. You'd have to roll with him to know how strong this kid is. He's extraordinarily strong for a 135 pounder." With such a large frame for that division, one wonders how long Matt will be able to continue fighting in that weight class. However, his manager says that he believes that Tran will be staying at Bantamweight for the foreseeable future, even as a professional.
More after the jump:
With his size, submission skills and conditioning, Matt is a tough matchup for any fighter at 135 pounds. He regularly trains with talented amateur and pro fighters at Team Huskey in Asheville and Chris Frye's Gym in Charlotte. In six amateur fights, only one opponent has lasted until the 3 minute mark against Tran. In his last fight, fans saw Matt face one of the better lighter weight fighters in the state, Matthew Coakley (5-1 at the time), and come away with the victory. On Friday night, Tran defends his title against Brantley Furr (3-1). Furr is looking to bounce back from his first loss (to Keith Hulin, another very talented young prospect, in May). At the end of the day, many fans of amateur athletics hope to catch a glimpse of athletes that can be winning competitors at the next level. I believe that Matt Tran is that type of fighter, so Friday's "Cage Fights at the Epicentre" card affords MMA fans just such an opportunity. This card offers a slate of competitive, impressive title fights and an energetic and unique venue. Do yourself a favor and check out this show at the Epicentre in uptown Charlotte, NC on Friday night.
Also on the card:
-170 lbs.- Blaine Thomas (11-5) vs. Alex Mcdonald (3-1) Thomas was ranked as the # 3 welterweight in the June MMA For Real Carolinas fighter rankings. He defends his Fight Lab Promotions welterweight title in this clash.
-155 lbs.- Kevin Forant (4-1) vs. Chris Smith (5-3) This fight will decide the Fight Lab Promotions 155 pound championship.
-205 lbs.- Brandon Beach (2-1) vs. Ben Perry (2-2) This fight will decide the Fight Lab Promotions 205 pound championship.
-145 lbs.- Salah Hemidach (4-1) vs. Christian Brunetti (3-0) This fight will decide the Fight Lab Promotions 145 pound championship.
-185 lbs.- Adam DeHart (9-5) vs. Tony Scarlett (4-0) DeHart was ranked as the # 1 middleweight in the June MMA For Real Carolinas fighter rankings and Scarlett was the # 2 light heavyweight. Tony will be testing the middleweight waters in this matchup.
-170 lbs.- Vincent Alberico (2-0) vs. TBA
-205 lbs.- Robert "Havoc" Smith (2-1) vs. Zachary Klouse (4-3) Smith was ranked as the # 3 heavyweight in the June MMA For Real Carolinas fighter rankings. He is dropping down to his more natural weight of 205 pounds for this bout.
-170 lbs.- Jeff Piercy (2-1) vs. Shawn Dillon (0-0)
-135 lbs.- Kenny Hull (0-0) vs. Mike Powell (0-0)
-155 lbs.- Shane Crenshaw (0-1) vs. TBA