The country will get to see the likes of tryout winner Jason Hicks, Brazil’s Luis Santos, Women’s Strawweight Heather Clark, and the first Women’s Flyweight Title fight between Cortney Casey & Pearl Gonzalez when XFC 26 “Night of Champions III” goes live on AXS TV Friday October 18th. But the thousands of local fans in the seats will be treated to some of the top rising stars that Tennessee has to offer before the show goes Live nationwide. John Prisco and company have assembled the preliminary bouts, with exciting prospects that will get the crowd ready for the main card that culminates with Tennessee’s own Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman defending his XFC lightweight title.
Nashville MMA’s Cromwell Stewart will make his professional debut in his own backyard. Before going Pro, Stewart won a split decision over Zach Hicks last year in Nashville at XFC 21 and then put a stamp on his amateur career with a first round knockout back in February. His opponent, Willie Taylor Jr. will also be making his professional debut, but brings a deep well of amateur experience. Taylor is a veteran of 12 amateur bouts, having forced his opponent to tap in 6 of his 7 victories. Ending his ammy run with back to back stoppage victories, he joins his opponent as they now looks to take over the Pro ranks. Stewart vs Taylor Jr. will kick off the night as they go to war inside the cage; both ready kick start their pro career in style.
Jason Gifford (1-1) and Mario Scott (2-1) face off in a Middleweight match up the fans in Tennessee have been waiting for. Gifford was impressive in his professional debut, scoring a first round TKO win, but fell short in his second appearance in the cage. Scott started his professional career with a first round finishes and now looks to add his third victory. This is a fight many don’t expect to get out of the first round, as the two are very heavy handed fighters.
Nashville’s own Kenny Degenhardt (3-0) notched his third straight professional win, with a first round submission victory earlier this year. The local standout will face his toughest test to date when he meets fellow Bantamweight Brian Hall (7-1). Hall has won three in a row, all first round stoppages. The Memphis fighter has only went to a decision once in his professional career and shows great pride that he can finish his opponents with a wide range of tricks. Degenhardt brings in some solid grappling, but will have to put on a great performance to recon Hall’s advantage in experience. At the end of the night one of the two will be a step closer to being ranked as one of the top Bantamweights in the State.
Anthony Lemon (4-2) is looking to settle the score with Ben Brewer (4-1) in a rematch of a 2011 amateur fight. Brewer defeated Lemon with a triangle choke. Brewer’s only loss came after an unfortunate accident in the cage where the cage itself inflicted a massive cut. Since then he has rattled off three wins with two coming by first round submission. Lemon is looking to get back in the win column and even the score in this Welterweight showdown.
After over a year off, Nate Jolly (12-5) will swap roles inside the XFC cage. The past few XFC events in Tennessee saw Jolly as a referee, but XFC 26 will instead mark Nate’s third appearance as a fighter inside John Prisco’s cage. He meets journeyman Gerric Hayes (8-9) and is welcomed back by the promotion, after his last exciting performance with them at XFC 21 in Nashville. Hayes will have to avoid the constant pressure that the Jolly brings, as Jolly has some of the best wrestling in MMA and will look to take Hayes down and keep him there. Jolly will need to resist the knockout power, as well as submission skills of his opponent, Hayes. Lots of cage experience shared between these two, that will make for a great matchup on Friday night.
For the third straight fight, the Ric Flair of the XFC, Nate “The Train” Landwehr (2-1) will be facing someone with much more experience than him. His exciting style and finishing ability led John Prisco to signing him to the featherweight division. Now, he will meet Keith “The Rockstar” Richardson (10-4) in the TV swingbout. Richardson has put together back to back wins since dropping his last outing in Nashville. Landwehr got burnt on a decision in Charlotte earlier this year that handed him his first professional loss. The action in this one will no doubt heat up fast. Landwehr generally starts slow in the first round to get a feel for his opponent, but once he gets tagged in the face a time or two, the animal un-tames. Richardson likes a quick pace, so it will be a test of will and game plans to see who gets their way. Landwehr’s cardio is second to none and he will look to drag it into the later rounds. Watch for Richardson to turn on the accelerator and try to get out of the Music City in a hurry. One thing is for certain, the local fans are in for a treat before the XFC broadcasts live to the World!
The weighs ins will take place Thursday October 17th, at 5pm at the Millennium Maxwell Hotel and are open to the public & media. The hotel address is 2025 U.S. 41 Alternate, Nashville, TN 37228. From 4pm-5pm, there will be an open meet n greet with the staff, fighters, and cage dolls, followed by a short press conference with XFC President John Prisco. The formal weigh ins will begin at 5pm-6pm. Camera’s are welcome and we encourage fans to attend, to take photos with their favorite fighters.
XFC 26: Night of Champions III takes place Friday 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.
Article by G. Thomas