Opportunity knocks for Tyler Minton.
The Johnson City fighter is scheduled to headline this Friday night’s Cage Brawl VIII, the first ever Pro-Am Mixed Martial Arts event to be held in Kingsport.
Minton, 24, brings a 3-0 record into the cage against Amaechi Oselukwue, a former track star out of Memphis with a 2-3 record.
Fighting at the 185-pound weight class, Minton is thrilled to be in the main event.
“I’m one of those guys where I really like to fight locally,” he said. “I have a lot of fans locally so it’s always it’s a real positive experience. There’s always a lot of adrenaline fighting in front of a big crowd like that.”
Other Johnson City-based fighters on the card include former Hampton High School football star Adam Townsend in the 145-pound weight class, Ronnie Curtis and Adam Jones in a pair of 155-pound fights, Shawn Amix at 180 and Dustin Long at 205. In addition, Tyler Smith enters his second professional fight in the 135-pound class.
However, the star of the show is Minton who recently auditioned for the Spike TV show, Ultimate Fighter. He passed both the grappling and striking tests, and went through the interview process with UFC President Dana White.
The promoters decided Minton’s weight class would not be featured on the upcoming show, but they kept his information on file for future dates.
With that taken care of, his focus is on Friday’s fight and the challenge which awaits.
“He’s going to be one of the best athletes I’ve fought and maybe one of the best I will ever fight,” he said. “I’ve accepted my shortcomings as God didn’t give me the most athletic abilites, but, I train with athletes as good as him. I know he would have to really beat me down to stop me. I plan to keep on coming.”
Minton, who wrestled in high school for Sullivan East, brings a full arsenal to the cage. He does MMA training with Johnson City’s Team Oxendine, and also owns a strength and conditioning gym, The Colosseum, located in the Bailey’s Sports Bar Complex.
To prepare for this upcoming fight, Minton sparred with guys both his size and outside his weight class. With the smaller fighters, he faces guys who are a lot quicker, while the heavier classes features fighters up to 300 pounds who hit a lot harder.
His plan is to be the best prepared he can be instead of worrying too much about his opponent.
“I don’t study the other guy a whole lot because each fight is so unpredictable,” he said. “Especially, the guy I’m fighting Friday night, he tries something different every time. He’s just a super athlete, a former track star.
“But, my preparation towards Mixed Martial Arts is more about my skills and making them better.”
He feels a good training regime will get him over the hump and help him pick up the victory against Ofelukwue.
“I don’t know how other guys approach it,” he said. “But I try to train as hard as Chuck Liddell ever did. When you combine my strength and conditioning with my Mixed Martial Arts training, it’s like a full time job.”
He sees this fight as another step toward his ultimate goal, earning a spot on the Ultimate Fighting Championships roster.
“My long term goal, and hopefully it’s not that long term, is to be in the UFC,” he said. “I love it and I feel if I don’t make it in UFC that means I’m not trying hard enough. It’s not that I don’t want to fight for anyone else, but my goals are nothing short of fighting for the UFC.