Another go-around for hard hitting Heatherly
Just seven days after electrifying the crowd with a jaw-dropping knockout, Chris Heatherly will return to his comfort zone; the cage.
Heatherly, who fought at 185-pounds at Shamrock: Redemption bumps up to 205 to take on Tony Souders on Saturday at Nemesis Fighting Alliance.
“A couple of matches of MMA in a few weeks is a great time,” Heatherly said.
Saturday’s fight could be Heatherly’s swansong as an amateur. The 24-year-old is currently 21-1, holds seven titles, and is looking to go pro in March. But first there is Souders, who has made a name for himself in a short amount of time in the cage.
“He’s a good dude,” Heatherly said. “We talked on Facebook and best of luck to him. I hope he gets down to 205 because I’ll be there.”
Heatherly, who made quick work of Kain Royer last weekend to take home the Shamrock middleweight strap, does have a bit of extra motivation going into Saturday’s bout.
“I’m not going to say that I’m after him for any certain reason but he fought and beat a couple of my teammates and he’s walking around like the big dog and I’m trying to put him on a leash,” Heatherly said.
“I have a lot of fights. I’m more experienced, have a better wrestling background, and have better stand up. I know he’s nervous because he’s been to two fights to check me out. I showed him tonight a six second knockout. I don’t know how you train for that. I’ll be after him.”
Coming out of Cahokia, Heatherly was a two-sport standout. He was a four-time conference wrestling champion and a national Greco-roman champion.
“I owe a lot to my wrestling coaches,” he said. “They trained my like a champ.”
Wrestling scholarships are extremely hard to come by, even for conference champions, and Heatherly was recruited heavily for college football. He eventually went to Joliet Junior College. But at 5-foot-9 and with the nickname “Stump”, Division I college stardom seemed far out of reach.
“They told me I needed to get a little taller,” Heatherly said. “I could get bigger but not taller so I started a career in MMA."
At 250-pounds, Heatherly was always athletic and possessed great footwork. He was known for being able to pull off a back flip at a moment’s notice. Once he jumped into MMA, there was no going back. He tallied 10 fights in his first year, going 9-1.
With dynamite hands to go along with his strong wrestling base, Heatherly quickly racked up victory after victory and along the way built a strong following of supporters.
“A lot people say, ‘Man, you’ve got lots of fans. Those aren’t my fans, those are family and friends,” Heatherly said. “Everybody who wears a Team Stump shirt are friends and family. They come and represent every time. Some of them spend a boatload of money to come watch me fight and I plan on putting on a show every time they see me.”
Heatherly splits his training between the Southside Fight Club, headed up by Mike Green and Berger’s MMA, ran by longtime veteran Steve Berger.
“Any time I needed something, Mike Green was there,” Heatherly said. “And there’s Steve Berger. There’s nothing like training with a guy who fought in the UFC.”
The fighters at Southside are a close group who not only believe, but feed off of each other.
“Every day is the same thing,” Heatherly said. “We hate each other when we’re sparing but we love and support each other when we’re done.”
Heatherly plans on dropping down to 170 for when he goes pro. But for now, “Stump” is concentrating on his second fight in 14 days.
“In wrestling, you may have 100 matches in a year,” Heatherly said. “This is fun. This is what it’s all about.”