UNION — A local mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter will have his first professional fight this evening.
Union resident Christian Patterson began practicing martial arts seven years ago under 9th Level Martial Arts head instructor Jamie Vaughn.
Vaughn said dedication and hard work led to Patterson earning a black belt. In 2010, Patterson tried kickboxing with the International Kickboxing Federation, competing in two matches. Patterson said he loved kickboxing, but he was still looking for something more. In 2011, he began an amateur career in MMA. Patterson finished his amateur career with a 4-4 record, and he is now ready to begin his professional MMA career.
Patterson is a biology major at USC Aiken, and he said he took around six months off from MMA to concentrate on school. During that time, he lifted weights and put on around 20 pounds. While he said he walks around weighing 160 pounds, he is cutting weight to fight at around 130 pounds.
Patterson’s first pro fight will be at 7 p.m. this evening (Friday, July 3) at the Meadow View Marriott Conference Resort in Kingsport, Tenn.
Patterson said he doesn’t feel that it will be a big transition for him to move from amateur to pro cage fights because he has already trained in a lot of pro-style techniques.
Some of the rules for professional fights differ from those of amateur fights. For example, knees and elbows to the face are allowed in pro fights but not in amateur.
“It takes a lot more practice; I have to dedicate a lot more time,” Patterson said. “There’s a lot more working out, and I have to be in better shape and more polished.”
The reason professional fights require more conditioning is that a fight that goes the distance will last six minutes more than amateur fights. Pro fights consist of five three-minute rounds, while amateur fights are three three-minute rounds.
Patterson still trains with Jamie Vaughn at 9th Level Martial Arts, and he has also trained with various others.
“I’ve reached out more, enough to get the taste of different people — more people I don’t get to spar with on a regular basis,” he said.
Patterson vs. Grimmett
This Friday, Patterson will fight Brandon Grimmett — a fighter Patterson fought over a year ago during both their amateur careers. Patterson came out on top in that fight, finishing Grimmett with a submission in the 3rd round. It was not the way he wanted to win, however.
“I was angry at the last fight,” Patterson said. “I’m hard on myself. I’ve grown up kickboxing, so if I get a KO (knockout) or a TKO (technical knockout), that’s going to make me happy.”
Patterson said Grimmett — who has had three professional fights — was one of the first fighters he thought of after making the decision to turn pro.
“He will be really hungry and want to avenge that loss, like every fighter does,” Patterson said, adding that Friday’s fight will be an interesting one.
Patterson said Grimmett has put on a lot of muscle since their last fight.
“He’s definitely going to be stronger than last time, and I’m stronger than last time,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he knows what kind of fighter Grimmett was during their last fight. He described him as “super aggressive.”
“He relies a lot on power, and I rely on technique,” Patterson said.
Although they have fought before, Patterson said he doesn’t necessarily know exactly what to expect. Their last fight was in North Carolina with a different set of rules, and Patterson said Grimmett has probably improved since then. He said Grimmett also has the experience advantage in terms of pro fights.
Patterson is still confident going into this fight.
“There’s no reason I shouldn’t win this fight,” he said. “I did it once; I can do it again.”
Patterson is sponsored by Iron Sight Shooter, where lead instructor is Stephen Root of Union.