Austin Springer has enjoyed having his picture on several billboards to promote Prime Fighting 8, the mixed martial arts event he is headlining on Saturday at the Clark County Event Center in Ridgefield.
The Vancouver MMA professional is looking forward to defending his Prime Fighting featherweight (145-pound) championship against Julian Erosa in a bout scheduled for five 5-minute rounds.
But the Vancouver fighter who won the Prime Fighting belt in January is also looking further down the road. Springer (8-1 as a MMA professional) sees a win over Erosa (15-4) as a big step toward his goal of landing a UFC contract. Erosa, 27, lost in March by second-round knockout to Teruto Ishihara on the UFC 196 card.
“The saying is, the fastest way to get to the UFC is to beat somebody who’s been there,” Springer said.
He is confident that a focused 12-week training camp that featured a lot of one-on-one guidance has him prepared to defeat Erosa. The 6-foot tall Yakima native has a height and reach advantage on the 5-foot-8 Springer.
But Springer said that Erosa’s reach edge isn’t a mental edge or a technical advantage. He has been training against taller fighters and his January win in Prime Fighting 5 was over left-hander Toby Misech.
“I like that (Erosa) has physical attributes that I don’t have,” Springer said. “I got into wrestling and into mixed martial arts to test myself. It will be interesting to see how I adapt and conquer this Saturday.”
Springer and Erosa have crossed paths before. Both were invited to The Ultimate Fighter 22 reality television show. Erosa made it to the semifinals and won four of five short bouts during the show. Springer lost his first match and was eliminated. Erosa helped Springer warm up for that bout.
Strong local sponsorship allowed Springer to hire coaches to focus on specific skills. He has worked on jiu-jitsu with Aaron Milam at Renzo Gracie Academy in Portland, kickboxing with Hazma Salim in at 3SIXO Fitness in Vancouver, respected trainer Robert Follis at Xtreme Coture in Las Vegas and established UFC fighter Bryan Caraway.
The co-main event is a five-round welterweight (170-pound) bout between Vancouver fighters Jake Smith (4-1) and Eric Ramsey (1-1 as a pro).
Alasdair Mackenzie, majority owner of Prime Fighting LLC, declined to reveal payout amounts but said this is the largest purse offered so far by his promotion company. He said support from the Clark County business community is driving the growth of Prime Fighting.
The card features seven professional fights and four amateur fights. The first amateur fights begin at 6 p.m.
Prime Fighting 8
When: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Clark County Events Center, 17402 NE Delfel Rd, Ridgefield.
Tickets start at $35 and are available through primefighting.net.
(Three 3-minute rounds)
Kaipo Rhodes vs. Antonio Cruz (260 pounds)
Roy Cardenas vs. Curtis Snyder (135 pounds)
Jorge Alcala vs. Stefan Habib (160 pounds)
Ryan Macedo (Vancouver) vs. Paul Goetschius (145 pounds)
(Three 5-minute rounds)
Nick Biron (Washougal vs. James Waller (205 pounds)
Isaac Shelton vs. Wyatt Gonzalez (170 pounds)
TJ Koehler (Camas) vs. Jon Weber (170 pounds)
Amin Kajtaz (Vancouver) vs. Adam Fugitt (170 pounds)
Tyree Fortune vs. Robert Burgess (205 pounds)
170-pound Prime Fighting title
(Five 5-minute rounds)
Jake Smith (Vancouver) vs. Eric Ramsey (Vacouver)
145-pound Prime Fighting title
Austin Springer (Vancouver) vs. Julian Erosa (Yakima)