By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Invicta FC 12

Many mixed martial arts fighters would be a bag of nerves before making their pro debut. But it sure doesn’t seem that way with Sijara Eubanks.

Eubanks, who fights with Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, Md., will make her pro debut at flyweight at Invicta FC 12 on April 24 against Roma Pawelek. Although this is Eubanks’ first professional MMA bout, she’s tailoring her preparation like that of a savvy veteran.

“I'm preparing for her just like I'd prepare for any other opponent,” Eubanks said. “I'm working on all aspects of the game, fine tuning my game plan, keeping my conditioning high. I know she's a grappler, so I'm definitely prepared if the fight goes to the ground.”

Eubanks is also changing up her training, having two to three sessions daily, Monday through Friday, and once daily on Saturday and Sunday. Beyond working on multiple parts of her repertoire and keeping her conditioning up, Eubanks isn’t giving much away.

“I don't want to give away too much of my game plan, so everyone will have to tune into UFC Fight Pass on April 24 to see,” she said.

Despite her reluctance to divulge her strategy, Eubanks is very confident in one area of her skills.

“She's a grappler, I'm a grappler, so I feel like this fight is going to end up on the ground,” she said. “I’m very confident that I’m the better grappler.”

Overall, Eubanks is more eager than anything else to make her pro debut, describing her mindset as “pure excitement.”

“It's crazy; I've been waiting a long time to fight, so I’m pumped,” she said. “Plus, it’s my pro debut! So this is really a chance for me to show the world what I’m capable of.”

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Micah Terrill

Photo Credit: Micah Terrill/Facebook

Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the fighters involved in Shogun Fights’ first-ever title fight. To read about Cole Presley, click here.

One of the hallmarks of mixed martial arts is that fighters not only train with their own team, but they travel the country or the world and soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible in order to become the most well-rounded fighter they can.

For Micah Terrill, his training for his first title fight at Shogun Fights next month against Cole Presley isn’t just making him well-rounded. It’s also making him – pardon my French – a bad motherfucker.

Terrill is splitting his time training with UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone and other fighters at Cerrone’s “BMF Ranch” and with Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn in New Mexico. Terrill calls Conquest BJJ in Crofton, Md., his home base.

“Being the first title fight [in Shogun Fights] is a great opportunity and honor,” Terrill told me recently. “This should be a great fight for me to showcase my skills. Cole is an amazing guy and even better fighter. I have a lot of respect for him, and can’t wait to see him in the cage.”

Terrill played baseball and football in high school, and wrestled. After a journey into professional baseball fell through, he returned to Maryland and started his MMA training, and soon thereafter devoted himself to the sport full-time. Terrill sports a MMA record of 5-4 and while he came up short in his last bout, he was victorious in his last appearance for Shogun Fights in November 2014.

“I have a family who supports me to the fullest extent,” Terrill said. “I couldn’t do it without my girlfriend and our 5-month-old son behind me. I’m a God-fearing man and he’s blessed me with everything I have.”

Shogun Fights XII takes place on Saturday, April 18, at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Md.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Shogun Fights

When it comes to mixed martial arts, Maryland welterweight fighter Cole Presley couldn’t have picked a much better fighter to emulate than former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

“I once heard GSP say ‘in racing you need a good driver and a good car. If you have a very good car but a bad driver, you’re not going to win the race. If you have a very good driver and a bad car, you’re not going to win either. So I have a good car and a good driver, which is even more important,’” said Presley, who fights with Clinch Academy in Frederick, Maryland, and is fighting for the inaugural Shogun Fights welterweight title on April 18 in Baltimore, Maryland.

“This quote couldn’t be truer and speaks volumes on the philosophy of conditioning in MMA,” Presley said. “I am a full time union pipe fitter, so I must balance my career and my MMA training carefully or else it can wear on me mentally.”

Presley squares off against Micah Terrill for the Shogun Fights welterweight title after previously competing as a lightweight. He believes a step up in weight class will work to his advantage.

“I have put on some extra muscle, but I am trying to be careful about it so my athleticism carries over to the welterweight division,” Presley said. “I have always been a big lightweight being that I am 6’1 and usually cut from 175 pounds.”

Presley has been a martial arts fan since childhood and was introduced to MMA after ordering the UFC 36 pay-per-view (without his mother’s permission). He first competed in judo and kempo kickboxing, and started his amateur MMA career in 2007. Presley’s mother isn’t the only member of his family to agonize over his decision to embrace MMA.

“My family hates the fact that I fight, but unfortunately for them it is my passion,” Presley said. “My dad’s favorite sport is golf, so that gives you an idea of how different our sports worlds are.”

Presley is very confident leading into his fight against Terrill, which he attributes to his training camp. “Training has been going great,” he said. “I am injury free and I have been doing conditioning and strength training for a steady six weeks now. I have done limited sparring, which has been optional, but I plan on picking up the pace with live sparring within the next few weeks.

“I have also started my sprinting routine this week and have begun focusing on technique training,” Presley added. “This next month is where it all comes together and I plan on peaking the week of the fight, which is a very relaxed week leading up to weigh-ins and the fight itself.”

Presley plans to take full advantage of the opportunities provided to him by Shogun Fights, especially since he’s giving himself a limited window in MMA.

“I am 28 years old and I have no plans on fighting past 35, so I plan on making the most of the several years I have left,” he said.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Ronda Rousey

Photo Credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Given that it’s tax season, it’s a good time to remember that are there three guarantees in life: death, taxes and Ronda Rousey once again showing why she is the best female fighter on the planet with a first-round demolition of her opponent.

Rousey’s performance at UFC 184 last month was her finest to date. She submitted Cat Zingano, widely regarded as Rousey’s biggest challenge, in 14 seconds. While Rousey was aided by an absolutely horrible strategy by Zingano, her virtuoso performance led to another discussion of who has what it takes to dethrone Rousey. It also led to a ridiculous conversation of whether or not Rousey could compete against and defeat male fighters in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The less time spent on that absurd notion that accomplishes nothing but trying to discredit the great fighter Rousey is, the better.

Of course, the first name that always comes up is Cris “Cyborg” Justino, the Invicta FC featherweight champion. She is expected to drop to 135 pounds for a fight with Invicta this summer before moving on to a fight with Rousey. However, Cyborg attempted a drop to bantamweight last year and abandoned those plans. So I wouldn’t hold my breath on the long-awaited grudge match between Rousey and Cyborg happening anytime soon.

Rousey recently expressed a desire to fight Bethe Correia, who battered two of Rousey’s “Four Horsewomen” teammates and has been calling Rousey out ever since. Jessica Eye has also staked her claim to a title shot, but neither of these women pose a real threat to Rousey. During UFC 184’s postfight coverage, Daniel Cormier floated the idea of his colleague Miesha Tate getting a third crack at Rousey.

Besides the fact I think trilogies should be reserved only when each fighter has a victory over the other, I see no reason why third time would be a charm for Tate. While she is the only woman to go further than the first round with Rousey, Tate has plateaued as a fighter while Rousey has gotten better. If the two were to fight a third time, I see no reason to believe the result would be any different.

So where does this leave Rousey? In my opinion, she has cleaned out the UFC women’s bantamweight division. There is no one who poses a credible threat to her. If Zingano adjusted her strategy and received another shot at Rousey, she might have a chance of winning. Beyond that, if Rousey decided to go out on top and build on her burgeoning film career, I don’t think anyone would hold it against her.

Rousey is currently on a run akin to Anderson Silva’s run atop the UFC’s middleweight division. He dominated everyone in his path and except for his first fight with Chael Sonnen, made it look easy. Rousey’s hardest fight to date was against Liz Carmouche, when she had Rousey in a rear naked choke in the first round of their fight in 2013 before Rousey was able to escape and secure another armbar victory.

Silva’s reign atop the middleweight division came to an end when the previously unknown Chris Weidman came along and showed no fear and took the fight to Silva. Maybe that’s what needs to happen with Rousey. She needs to find an opponent who will get right in her face, give her no quarter and take the fight to her. Zingano attempted that at UFC 184, but her overzealousness ended up costing her dearly.

Until Rousey finds her own Chris Weidman, we can add another superlative to the many that are already attached to the women’s bantamweight champion: cleaner. Rousey is fresh out of his worthy challengers to her crown, a task she accomplished by cleaning out her division.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

People pursue martial arts for different reasons. They may not have much interest in organized team sports like football or basketball. They may have stress that they want to work off in a healthy way. For some, martial arts represent a way to boost yourself.

Sijara Eubanks, a flyweight fighter from Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, Md., started in martial arts as a child, but it was her progression as an adult from kickboxing to Brazilian jiu-jitsu that led her to a contract with Invicta FC. A Springfield, Mass. native, Eubanks was first introduced to mixed martial arts and the UFC as many (including myself) have – by multiple viewings of UFC programming. In this case, UFC Unleashed.

“I thought it was the coolest thing on TV,” Eubanks told me via email. “I would watch hours and hours at a time. So when I started training I never thought I’d compete professionally, but I fell so in love with the sport so I quit my job and started to pursue MMA and jiu-jitsu full time.”

MMA helped Eubanks overcome depression, and she has compiled a 2-0 record as an amateur fighter. While the date of her Invicta debut is still up in the air, her goal is the same as any other fighter – to be world champion. Eubanks credits her management team at SuckerPunch Entertainment for facilitating her deal with Invicta.

“It seems like not that long ago I was just a chubby kid from Springfield, and now I’m signed with the world’s premier women’s MMA promotion,” Eubanks said. “I’m so pumped up about this contract and I cannot wait to make my Invicta debut. I’m going to bring some intense, entertaining fights to the flyweight division.”

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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