Prime Fighting 9 goes down this Saturday night, March 11th, at the Clark County Event Center in Ridgefield, Washington. This will be the first event of 2017 for the local fight promotion and President Alasdair Mackenzie has pulled out all the stops for this one. Not only is fan favorite Jake Smith set to make his first title defense, two standout prospects from Israel, Sol Renato and Raz Bring, have made the trip to the states to compete. From top to bottom, this card is stacked with local talent and one local fight team is looking to Saturday’s card as a chance to show that they are one of the top fight teams in the region. With three fighters on the card, Vancouver Elite MMA is expecting a clean sweep on Saturday and head coach Austin Springer believes his team is set up for success.
Vancouver Elite MMA will have 2-0 pro Donnie Johnson, debuting pro Steven Southern, and 2-1 amateur Andrew Perri all in action. Coach Springer and his fighters are aiming for a perfect Saturday night, one that shows just how hard they have been working and why Vancouver Elite MMA is becoming home to so many talented young athletes. One of the biggest advantages for these three fighters is that they are all fighting within ten pounds of each other. Additionally, the fact that they were all preparing for fights at the same time Springer believes they are at a huge advantage.
“It’s nice to have everyone on the same [training]cycle,” Springer said. “You have guys that are a similar weight, and fighting on the same day. It allows them to keep their training at a higher level as they prepare. The last thing you want is [to be in the gym]getting ready for a fight and you don’t have people in the gym as willing to push you past that regular level as you’d like. These three are ready.”
While having training partners peaking for camp along side each other is a plus, it can make for a lack of individual time with coaches and this is a negative for many fighters who crave added instruction. This challenge is nothing new to the team at Vancouver Elite MMA. Often, Springer himself is preparing for a fight (he is 9-2 and a former Prime Fighting Featherweight Champion) of his own and must pay himself the respect of working on his own craft. Strictly as a coach, however, Springer has found a balance that works well for his team and will certainly have Johnson, Southern, and Perri ready for action this weekend.
“[Dividing time between fighters] can be difficult, especially with the amateur fighters. Amateurs all need work in the same areas. They get those small room, team practices that transition from one thing to the next, that as a whole, some of the more experienced guys might not get enough of. But the young guys don’t always understand the transitional stuff and until they get further along in their career most of them have yet to be put in a bad spot and don’t need to focus on [very]specific things yet. The older guys, after you’ve developed them a little bit you can kind of see where they are strongest and what they need work on and where you need to focus.”
Springer went on to point out that debuting pro Steven Southern has taken full advantage of his time with his coaches and seems to have turned a corner in his career. Springer spoke glowingly about Southern and made a point in saying, “Steven Southern has looked so good in this camp. He’s really turned it up a notch.”
Southern has also spent a little time training with local standout and current UFC fighter Jason Novelli in preparation for this fight. For his professional debut, Southern is not taking any chances. As for his teammates, it would appear they are both more than ready to step into the cage. Donnie Johnson is currently riding a 2-fight win streak with King of the Cage and bringing such experience with him to Prime Fighting 9 will undoubtedly be an advantage for him. A good win in his Prime Debut could mean a quick call back for Johnson. As for Perri, this opportunity is far greater than most amateur fights. With this card being broadcast via tape delay with Comcast SportsNet Northwest, it will be a rare chance to see how well the amateur fighters (Perri included) can handle their nerves in the spotlight.
The team from Vancouver Elite MMA has a tough task in front of them on Saturday night. For Johnson, Southern, and Perri, the fights will be difficult but the battles these three fighters have gone through in preparation for this night will show why they consider themselves elite. To check out Prime Fighting 9 live, you can get your tickets by heading over to primefighting.net. If for some reason you are not able to make it out to the fights, never fear. Comcast SportsNet Northwest will be airing replays of Prime Fighting 9 on March 19th, 23rd, and 24th. Set your DVR’s!