If the opening bout sets the tone for the entire show, then MMA fans are in for a hell of a night when Night of Champions III invades the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on October 18th. XFC President John Prisco and company will kick off their nationally televised show with a bang, when they send Tennessee Featherweights Luke Sanders and Zach Underwood into the cage to do battle. The 145 pound opening act will not only draw major interest from local MMA insiders, but should grab the attention of mass media outlets, as the winner could position themselves into the national rankings.
Luke Sanders (5-0) has quietly become one of the Volunteer State’s brightest prospects. Up to now, the undefeated Sanders has chosen to stay away from gratuitous self promotion and build his name off of hard work and exciting performances. But, with father time ticking, the 27-year-old Nashvillian realizes it’s time to make some noise. The last time XFC fans saw Luke Sanders was at XFC 18, when he dominated Kentucky’s Zachary Sanders and forced a referee stoppage late in the first round. After a minor knee injury and a self-imposed year-long lay off, Luke Sanders returned to MMA action this past July when he faced stiff competition in St. Louis Missouri’s Javon Wright. Sanders walked away with a split decision victory, but many questioned Sanders decision to face the tough and talented Wright in his return bout. When questioned about the fight, the normally silent Sanders simply answered, “It’s time. No more easy fights. I needed this type of fight before taking the next step.” Holding true to his words, the former high school wrestler is set to meet his biggest challenge to date in Zach Underwood. Finishing 4 out of his 5 previous opponents, Sanders will have his hands full trying to add Underwood to that list. The durable “Thunderwood” has only been stopped once in his 15 fight professional career, so Sanders knows that a finish in Nashville could catapult his career and position him as one of the country’s hottest unsigned prospects.
Zach “Thunderwood” Underwood (11-4) has been a staple in Tennessee mixed martial arts for over six years. The tough as nails veteran from Union City, Tennessee is known throughout the midsouth as a fighter’s fighter. Underwood accepts fights first, then asks questions later; the weight class is just a minor detail. Competing anywhere from Featherweight to Middleweight, Zach Underwood has made a career off seizing opportunities and defying the odds. After starting his career with an impressive 6-2 record, Underwood’s first chance to grab national attention came on the Strikeforce: Henderson versus Shields undercard. It was there that the smaller Thunderwood took middleweight Hunter Worsham to task, earning himself a unanimous decision and the respect he deserved within the industry. After his Strikeforce win, Underwood continued to work the local circuit, racking up wins and gaining valuable experience. In April of this year, Zach Underwood was offered a short notice fight at XFC 23 against Deivison Ribeiro. Always ready to play the role of spoiler, Underwood accepted the match against the heavily favored Brazilian, and in typical Thunderwood fashion, he dominated Ribeiro for three rounds and sent a message to all watching at home and in the arena, “Keep doubting me and I’ll keep proving you wrong. And I’m gonna keep doing it at the expense of your so-called superstars.” On October 18th, at XFC 26, Zach Underwood looks to hush the hometown crowd of undefeated up and comer Luke Sanders, and prove once again that HE’S the measuring stick at 145 pounds, not the “opponent”. Not overlooking the task at hand, Underwood feels he should have been offered a spot in the XFC Featherweight tournament and he plans to use wins over Ribeiro and Luke Sanders to make his case.
John Prisco had this to say about his AXS opening bout: “When we started releasing the Night of Champions match ups, without question, the Sanders versus Underwood bout received the biggest buzz and response. I was amazed at the feedback I got regarding this fight. This is a match up the fans in Tennessee have apparently been waiting on for a long time and we are proud to say the XFC was the promotion to put it together. Both these guys bring so much to the table; Sanders with his explosiveness and athleticism, and Underwood with his toughness, vast experience and ability to change-up his style and game plan to pull out wins…I can’t wait to sit cage side and watch this one. This is a King of the Mountain type match up for Tennessee. Whichever guy walks away with the win on October 18th has a valid argument for being the best Featherweight in the state.”
Xtreme Fighting Championships returns to Music City USA for XFC 26: Night of Champions III on October 18, 2013. The event is presented by ICRealTime Security Solutions and Liquid Ninja Energy Drink. The event will be broadcast Live on AXS TV from the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, beginning at 9pm CT/10 pm ET. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit www.XFCMMA.com or www.beafantickets.com. For daily updates and news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter @OfficialXFC.