Tim Stone of Columbus had no problem taking on a spur-of-the-moment challenge in his first mixed martial arts fight almost two years ago. Now, he wants to see what he can do when he knows what’s coming.
He began training to compete as an amateur fighter in January 2007 and had not even considered booking his first bout yet when, in September of that year, an event he was attending with a friend needed to replace a fighter who suddenly had dropped out.
“It wasn’t how I wanted to have my first fight,” Stone said. “Usually, you know about it for a long time and can train for it and get prepared. I just said, ‘Yeah, I’ll fight,’ and did it.”
Stone knocked out his opponent in 18 seconds.
He since has reeled off a 5-0 record as an amateur and moves up in the MMA world Friday, when he faces Dwayne Taylor (1-0) in the 185-pound class in what will be Stone’s first professional fight at the Best of the Best 17 in the Columbus Civic Center.
“I think I’m pretty prepared, and I know what to expect,” Stone said. “I’m not just jumping into it this time.”
Homecoming for fighters
Stone, a 29-year-old Shaw High and Columbus State alum, will be one of five local fighters on an 11-bout bill, but he will be the only professional from the area. All five area fighters train at Combatives Fitness Center in Phenix City, and each is a member of what event promoter Dana Pitcher calls his stable’s A Team.
Friday’s amateur fights are a hodgepodge of experience.
Aaron Cooper, a recent Army discharge who was most recently stationed at Fort Benning, will try to improve on his 5-1 mark against Cory Hamrick (5-0) in the 170 class. He’ll be joined in the amateur ranks by locals Thorne Faught (0-0), Kabika Smith (3-2) and Joey Mickel (7-1).
Faught, a two-time state wrestling qualifier at Smiths Station High, will make his amateur debut against Hein Pham (1-0) in the 145 weight class. The 19-year-old Combatives Fitness Center instructor has been training under jujitsu instructor father Max for about a decade but took up MMA only about a year ago. Now ready to take to the octagon for the first time, Faught said he feels a mix of nerves and confidence.
“I have no idea what it’s going to be like, but I think I’m ready,” Faught said. “I’ve been training real hard for it. I don’t really know what to expect, but I think I’ll win.”
Another Columbus amateur, Joey Mickel, 32, knows exactly what he’s getting into.
The only other time he fought in Columbus, he won with a 52-second knockout.
“I love fighting in Columbus,” Mickel said. “You really get a chance to show the other schools and the other fighters what Columbus can do, and that Columbus really is one of the best places in the state for fighters.”
His opponent is already familiar with that. Mickel faces Eddie Jackson (5-1), whose only loss came against Mickel.
Jackson is a tough fighter with a stand-up style and good hands, Mickel said, and fell last time only because of a few well-timed knees to the face. This time, Mickel expects his opponent to be more prepared.
“I’ve heard he’s working on his defense against me,” Mickelson said. “I expect him to be a lot tougher this time.”
Smith, a Ranger medic stationed at Fort Benning, will face Larry Dixon in the 170 class.
Contact Chris White at 706-571-8571