When is a fighter ready to turn Pro? I am sitting here thinking about two of my fighters, Thomas Campbell and Steven Durr, both of whom are 145 lbs.

Campbell came to me as a college wrestler with a 3-1 MMA record. When he first joined us it was after he had fought my guy Durr. Campbell won that fight via decision. He was a pure wrestler at the time. He is now 12-2; both losses have been to decisions.

He had his first Muay Thai match a couple of months ago and won that. He is training in BJJ and is a totally different fighter then when he came to us. Since joining us he has won the SSF Invitational and the KYFC 145 lbs. title.

Durr came to me (SSF in Murray, Ky.) as a brand new guy. He had never trained in MMA, BJJ, or Muay Thai, but he did wrestle in high school. Durr won his first two fights and looked good; and though he was still green, he was hungry and cocky.

I matched him up with Campbell (before he joined SSF) on my card in Ft. Campbell, Ky. I wanted to see how Durr would do with a guy I knew was a good wrestler.

They ended up having a three round war. It was really close but Campbell won the decision. I was proud of Durr for fighting so hard, and even though Campbell wasn’t my guy, I was proud of him because I knew he had what it would take to be a champion.

A few days after that show, Campbell shows up at my gym (SSF in Clarksville TN) and said that he wanted to train. I knew that with the natural talent that they both showed, it wouldn’t be long until they were winning titles.

At first Durr was advancing as a cross-trained MMA guy faster than Campbell. Durr’s record is now 10-3 and he holds the XMMA 145 lbs. title. He lost two decisions counting the one to Campbell and he lost a fight when he stepped up to fight for a 170 lbs. title.

But Campbell has really started to become a well-rounded fighter as well. Campbell and Durr have become great friends and are each other’s biggest fans.

Durr has always wanted to have a rematch because he is super competitive, but since he and Campbell are team mates he has reconciled the fact that Campbell will always have that win over him. Campbell has always stated that Durr has been his hardest fight.

These two fighters are ready to turn Pro, they have strong solid records and train exceptionally hard. Both are workhorses, they push themselves really hard and their records illustrate that. But, when I look around at other gyms I see fighters turning pro with losing records, only of couple of months of training, or their trainers are turning them pro so the trainer can get a cut of their pay.

This weakens the pool of pro fighters and forces the pay down for guys that deserve much more than $300 and $300. Campbell and Durr are ready to go Pro, but if I turn them without having them locked into a big show for their pro debut I risk allowing them to fall in that trap; fighting Pro, but making crap because some asshole turned six other 145 lbs. guys pro the month before, and they’re fighting for $300 or even $150.

It pisses me off. Not every fighter should turn Pro, only the best, only the guys that have really challenged themselves with tough fights and hard ass training sessions. Trainers need to keep their fighters amateur, and independent fighters need to stay amateur until they are truly ready to go Pro. Otherwise, you’re diluting the gene pool, so to speak.

I guess I’m telling you this because I’m very proud of them, they’re part of my family, and these are some of the fears I have for them.

I have decided to enter both of them in the HOOKnSHOOT eight man tournament for the 145 lbs. title on Nov. 28, 2009. HOOKnSHOOT has agreed to put them on opposite brackets so they wouldn’t have to face each other unless they both make it all the way to the final.

I hate to do this but HOOKnSHOOT is a great opportunity for them and it doesn’t seem fair to leave one out when they both deserve a shot at it. I’m looking at early next year to turn them both Pro. Wish them the best, they’ve earned it!

By: Ron Dayley

Ron Dayley is a trainer, manager, promoter, and owner of SSF Submission Academy.

43 thoughts on “Coach’s blog – how to know when a fighter is ready to turn pro”
  1. Thomas fought this past Sat 10-17-09 in Baton Rouge LA and won in 12 sec of the first round against a 6-1 fighter from VT.

  2. Bought records are also bad for the sport. Dodging better teams is bad for the sport. Tanking peoples shows are bad for the sport. Cant wait to see who else shows up for the tourney at Hook n Shoot. Wonder if they will go pro if when they loose? Just a thought from the sidelines

  3. Hey tiredoftheBS,
    Everybody knows who I am, who the hell are you? You are insulting my fighters not just me. Enjoy that haterade, lol

  4. Ron, I think your dead on and I’m looking forward to the results. Campbell and Durr are great fighters and have remained humble through it all. It’s been fun watching Campbell grow as a fighter and learn new techniques instead of sitting on his wrestling background as many amateur fighters tend to do. I’ve seen both of them fight wars in the ring and if they didn’t earn the win, they didn’t get it (as both well know). I know one of Durr’s losses came from doing a fight way too soon which only helped him mature as a fighter overall. Regardless of what anyone else says I think it’s time for these guys to take a shot at it. Hope I’m home in time but if not tell them I said train hard and good luck.

  5. Calm down little man. If your that worried about it, fight some real talent not the chumps I see you bring to Froggies every month. I am tired of buying tickets to the show and seeing so/so fights. I said nothing about your fighters. All I said is I wonder if they go pro if they lose. And get some originality “hateraide” has been seen before. And your right alot of people know you. The sorry thing about that is most of them laugh about you. Maybe I will check out the Hook N Shoot show and see what happens.

  6. lol, our shows out sell all the other shows in the area. We have had guys on our cards go on to M-1, KoTC and other big shows. We have had a UFC fighter on our card, we have had UFC vets cornering their fighters on our card. Our guys fight at more out of town and out of state shows then any other school in the area and at a much higher level. Hateraide was said by you to me once that’s why I used it here. If our shows are so bad why do you keep coming back? You must be lying or you’re a fucktard. Your show failed, you blow. Now go on with your sorry life.

  7. I’ve always wondered how to know when it’s time to turn pro. Thanks for the info coach. Sounds like your guys are about ready to go. You just never know what ‘s gonna happen in this sport – who’s gonna win or lose – that’s why it’s a sport.

  8. What show are you talking about? I don’t have a show. As far as Hateraide, I have heard that years ago. I did not use it if the previous posting, go read it. You really should get some help with the anger you are displaying. I think you have me confused with someone else.

  9. CTL, why the anger? I have said nothing that is untrue. I just simply posted a comment. Are you one of the two fighters he is talking about? If so, good luck with th tourney at Hook n Shoot. If you are one of the said fighters, I see a common thread of inadequacy with you and your trainer. You both display it with the verbal anger displayed. I don’t understand why you both get so angry over a simple comment. Wonder what you would do if we were ever in person? Has anyone heard who else is in the tourney yet? I am a little curious to see who is going to be there. I hear there are some good fighters in that area. I also hear that some of the other teams in Clarksville and Nashville have some good guys. Guess we’ll see. Also, please don’t post any childish threats. If you would like to meet it can be arranged. Have a good day and agin good luck with the tourney.

  10. Your intentions are great, but what about the fighters you are representing? This is an easy sport to turn pro in, granted you won’t make a lot of money, but at least you could make something. All of those extra fights they’ve done have been for free. That’s horrible, are you more concerned about your record as a gym or are you really running a protest of one against this issue. If your fighters are good then why would you be worried? The system is pumping out unqualified fighters as you say, so isn’t that good for your fighters? Who are you helping?

  11. There will be a lot of talent in the HnS tourny! Im sure some undefeated guys and a lot of one loss guys. Big Bully has a beast 145lber who I suspect will be in it. Great wrestler but his stand-up is what impressed me; if he hasn’t gone pro yet. I’m sure Jeff will stack that card as deep as it can go. The winner will have earned it!

  12. I looked up Campbells record.. the guy he fought in Baton Rouge was 123lbs??? and it says he was 0-1??

  13. His fight got changed on us on the way down to LA. We didn’t know who we were fighting when we got there. Durr’s guy dropped. Last week some guys from a very well know school and guys from a dick of a promoter dropped out of a show when they found out they were fighting our guys. So in Jan they are putting on a show were all fighters from SSF will be fighting guys from Team IMA and Team Ox (because those guys are great and always show up to fight). I don’t see any other schools putting their team against the talent that we do.

    If you look at the HnS card the SSF guys have the hardest brackets. So MMAfan 1 stop being a tool.

  14. How was I being a tool? I haven’t challenged your guys credibility? Or said anything bad about your guys? Your guys might be legit fighters. If you have the card please post it!


  16. Ive heard of a few names on there. Who is regarded the favorite? Im going to have to make a trip to evansville for this one it seems.

  17. No idea. There are some talented guys on here and it could go to anyone. Will be a good show with some good fights. SSF will have 155er Zack Hicks fighting as well.

  18. Not sure who Zack is matched with yet. His original guy dropped out. Durr’s guy dropped as well but they have a replacement for him already but I don’t remember who. I’m sure HnS will fight good guys for all the match ups. We are going into this expecting a war in every round.

  19. We found out today that Zack Hicks new match up dropped out last night so Zack isn’t going to be fighting. Too bad the guy didn’t drop out sooner so Zack could have eaten some Turkey.

  20. Steven Durr’s first match will be Marcus Chandler. Don’t know anything about him, don’t know much about any of them really.

  21. Thomas fought a total of 8 rounds and won 7 of the 8 rounds. So no, no real problems. Thomas’ pace, conditioning, stand up, wrestling and submissions were at a peak level. The guy is ready to go pro.

  22. The first match could have went either way. I actually scored it for the other guy. He had two takedowns and was winning striking. But campbell did press his up against the ropes for alot of the match.

    His last two fights he looked to have no trouble.

  23. Jason,I disagree. There were no take downs for either fighters. The one take down that Justin got was reversed on the way down with Thomas ending up in side control. Every time they hit the mat Thomas was in superior position and landed better shots and attempted more submissions. Thomas was landing better leg kicks and punches and were causing more damage to Justin. Rewatch the video and you will see that Thomas won the fight and the decision was correct. All the fighters were good and anyone of them could and do hold titles at other shows.

  24. I would like to see thomas fight justin mccolough soon. Justin is the 145 cage assault champion. I have fought justin and i have fought thomas they are my only two losses and both went to decision. I believe it would be a bad ass fight and a really tough match for the both of them. Congrats to your team and thomas on the win ron.. You do alot for your guys. You also got a awesome training program from what i can tell..ur guys are good!

  25. Hey Ryan,
    How have you been? I think Campbell and McColough would be a good fight too. I will see if we can make it happen. When is your next fight? Love to have you on our Jan 16th fight card.

  26. First of all, congratulations to Thomas Campbell for winning the tournament. It is no easy feat to win 3 fights in one night.

    I’m not trying to call anyone out, but I’m always looking for the best opponents in the area. I won the first 145lbs Hook N Shoot Rising Star Title and think we could put on packed show with two 145 champions fighting each other. It would have to be a pro fight. The next show isn’t until March I think. Let me know what you think.

  27. I agree it was a tough tournament. The other guy (mycrayns?) did get a take down in the third round. In the second or maybe third i believe he took him down but went through the ropes. When did Thomas get side control? Or go for a submission. I dont have any footage since neither one is my fighter. I was there for Louisville mma guys. Regardless Im not taking anything away from your guy he went on to handle his business. Just would say he did have some trouble in the first match.

  28. Jason-Justin was a hard fight, he is a good wrestler and he is the guy that did win one round against Thomas. We at SSF have nothing but respect for him and the rest of the guys on that fight card. It was a hard fight, falling out of the ring during a take down attempt doesn’t count as a take down, it was never finished. The Louisville guys are always tough and the Big Bully guys are new to us but they were good. Thomas was never in danger or hurt in the fights. He came into the show with banged up legs and if you noticed he sat on the stage icing his legs between fights. Thomas said to me at the end of the first round that Justin was good. I didn’t say it wasn’t a hard fight. I said he had no real problems meaning that he was never in danger, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a hard fight.

    Josh-That sounds like it would be an awesome fight. Congrats on your wins in the past Tournament. I am fielding all request for future fights and if someone wants to make this happen we are game. Thomas should be turning pro in the near future.

  29. Well it was a great fight! I would like to see those two go at it again. Thomas is defiantly better than some of the na-sayers lead on to believe.

    It was a good night of fights.

  30. The same. Justin got a take down and landed one good punch early on. Thomas landed a lot of leg kicks and was more aggressive and stuffed all the other take downs. It was real close but I still give it to Thomas.

  31. Thomas Campbell defended his KYFC 145 belt last night in Lexington KY. Thomas won in 1 min 18 sec of the first round improving his record to 16-2. Our goal is now to cut down to 135 and win the HooknShoot 135 Tourney and then turn him pro as a 135er.

  32. Hey Ron,
    I think I already have a fight in memphis lined up for the 16th. I do want to fight on one of your cards because i havent had a chance to yet so anytime you need a fight just let me kno, you can call me or email me 731-431-2461 or [email protected] I would like to work my way back up to one last shot at campbell..lol wut do u think?

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