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National spotlight to shine on local MMA pro Underwood

National spotlight to shine on local MMA pro Underwood
By KENNETH COKER
Messenger Sports Reporter
Obion Central graduate Zach Underwood is preparing for the fight of his life.
The local professional mixed martial arts fighter is set to be on the preliminary card of the CBS telecast “Strikeforce: Nashville” on April 17 at the Bridgestone Arena.
Underwood (6-2 in the pro ranks after an 11-4 run as an amateur) is scheduled to fight Hunter Worsham in a middleweight fight.
Worsham, a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and the son of former Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Cal Worsham, comes in with a 5-1 record.
There is also a chance that Underwood’s bout could be televised nationally on CBS if the featured matches do not go the distance and fill the timeslot.
Fights currently signed and set to be televised by CBS include a middleweight championship bout between Jake Shields and two-time Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson, a light heavyweight title fight pitting Muhammad Lawal against Gegard Mousasi, and a lightweight championship contest with Gilbert Melendez defending his belt versus Shinya Aoki.
A fourth fight has been added to the card featuring the star of MTV’s Bully Beatdown Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Tim Stout. It is not known if the Miller-Stout bout is to be televised or not.
Underwood, who fights out of his family’s Team Relentless gym located in UC, claimed his fight — as the “main event of the preliminary card” — is first in line to be televised should some of the scheduled bouts not go the distance.
Regardless, highlights of Underwood’s fight will be shown along with those of the other non-televised bouts during the CBS telecast.
“I think it’s going to be awesome,” Underwood, who turned pro just over a year ago, said. “What gets me is the fact that I’ll be on TV, doing what I love and representing Union City in the process.”
If Underwood makes weight (under 185 pounds), he’ll receive $1,500.
He is also set to get $1,500 for the fight, regardless of the outcome.
“A few people probably laughed at me when I quit a good paying job to try this as a living,” Underwood admits. “It was tough at first, but now the work I put in on the front end is starting to pay off.”
Strikeforce also gives out a $30,000 bonus for the knockout, submission and fight of the night.
Strikeforce is the only mixed martial arts promotion to have a national non-cable television deal in place.
“This is where the money is,” Underwood’s brother and coach/manager, Jake said. “For Zach to get this far in just a year when there are plenty of fighters trying to get on this card that have trained their whole life is a huge accomplishment.
“There are plenty of veterans of this sport that would love to have this opportunity.
Jeremy Jenkins of Union City and Matt Ramsey of McKenzie will serve as cornermen for the fight.
Other preliminary fights rumored for the card include a featherweight bout with Thomas Campbell vs. Cody Floyd and another fight in that class pitting Justin Pennington against Dustin Ortiz.
Light heavyweight Cale Yarbrough and Josh Schockman are set to do battle are are Ovince St. Preux and Chris Hawk.
A welterweight matchup pits Dustin West against Andrew Uhrich.
Tickets for the event can be purchased locally by calling 592-2597 or via e-mail at chrjunde@ut.utm.edu.
Sports reporter Ken-neth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kco-ker@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.8.10

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