Three of the Greencastle MMA fighters, who train at the All-American Karate Academy with Steve St. Pierre, will see action with bouts at Elite Cage Fighting 26, which takes place at the State Fairgrounds.
Jeremy Butler, Charlie Pingleton and Ryan Wood will all be representing the team and the community in tomorrow's action.
No fight of the evening will be bigger than that of Butler, who will be taking on John Asbury of Noblesville in the 140-pound title fight. Butler comes into his sixth fight with a nice 4-1 record, but he says he's never been as ready for a fight as this one.
"I'm more prepared for this one than I've ever been," Butler said. "In all my fights, I might have come in here maybe three times before the fight. Now I've dedicated the last three weeks to training to non-stop training four or five days a week.
"I'm definitely more prepared, but in my head it's just another match. It's just another step up toward where I want to go," he added.
Where he wants to go is the professional level. Butler is brimming with confidence and intensity, and also knows he has to hold himself to a higher standard if he wants to keep progressing.
"You have to prepare for every fight like you are fighting in the UFC," Butler said. "Even though I've had a long time between my fights, I train no matter what. I want to be in shape so that I'm good to go whenever that fight comes."
Butler will have some stiff competition in Asbury, who enters the fight with a 9-2 record. Asbury is supposed to have a strong ground game, but Butler looks to match up well with him. While the stand-up game is his strong point, he has worked on his jujitsu and feels confident in whatever direction the match might take.
"Coming in here and rolling around with these guys, my ground game is so much stronger. I feel like if he tries to stand up with me, it's over for sure. And on the ground, I feel quite confident that I'll be all right," Butler said.
Butler would like to eventually take his fighting to the professional level, similar to Kyle Gibbons, who has also trained with St. Pierre. For now, though, it's one step at a time.
"We want 10 fights. We want to get me as comfortable in the ring as I am on the wrestling mat before I go up to the next level," Butler said. "I don't want to be an average Joe. I want to be a contender for the title when I walk up. I don't want to wait three years or five years to get where I want to go."
Also fighting for Team Cyclone on Saturday will be Charlie Pingleton. Local sports fans will know Pingleton from his days wrestling for GHS as well as being a Division II All-American for the University of Indianapolis. Pingleton has now taken his skills in a different direction.
"I got into it after watching it on TV and knowing I could beat some of those guys if I had the right training and learned how to kickbox. With a little training on the ground, too, I think I could be successful at fighting. I wanted to take a shot at it, and I liked it when I came in here," Pingleton said.
Pingleton faces Bobby Johnson of Fishers in a 155-pound fight. The Greencastle fighter enters with a 1-1 record, while Johnson is 1-0. Pingleton obviously comes in strong on the ground with his wrestling background, but is getting better at the stand-up game.
"I'm working on my stand-up. I feel a little more comfortable with it, but I'm definitely more comfortable on the ground. This is only me third fight. Hopefully in a couple more fights, I'll be more comfortable to stay on my feet," Pingleton said. "Hopefully in this fight, I'll take him down and ground him and pound him like I did in my first fight."
While St. Pierre has certainly been working on the complete skill set with Pingleton, he also knows where his strength lies.
"With his wrestling skills, he's just really strong for 155. We laugh about it, but he's sort of the living legend of Greencastle," St. Pierre said.
The last fighter for Team Cyclone on Saturday will be Ryan Wood.
Wood enters Saturday 1-0 and will be facing Jeremy Silcox of Paragon at 235-pounds. It will be Silcox' first fight. The fighter Wood was originally slated to face is injured.
Because Wood and St. Pierre know nothing of the new fighter or who is training him, they are choosing to simply work on progressing with Wood's skills.
"I'm just training hard," Wood said. "The training has been the best I've ever been in. My instructors are the best guys I've ever met. I owe it pretty much all to them. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to do much of anything.
"I just want to train hard and never underestimate anybody. I hope it will be a good one," he added.
Wood said he has been working on his jujitsu to improve as a fighter. He said he's mostly involved with MMA for the physicality of it and for a positive outlet for his energy.
"My background is I played semipro football, so I like getting my head knocked around a little bit. I try to stay out of trouble, and this keeps me out of it," Wood concluded.
Elite Cage Fighting 26 will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Anyone wanting more information on Team Cyclone or the All-American Karate Academy can contact St. Pierre at 655-1300. The academy is at 1005 Mill Pond Lane in Greencastle.