Thomas Campbell
SSF Fighter Thomas Campbell

Editor’s note: In Ron Dayley’s Oct. 19 “Coach’s blog” the subject was “how to know when a fighter is ready to turn pro.” This is a follow up to that article.

Thomas Campbell of SSF Submission Academy Clarksville, Tenn., and Steven Durr of SSF Murray, Ky., both fought in the HooknShoot 8 Man 145lbs Tournament.

We knew that the competition was going to be tough and we started training for it a month out.  Since we didn’t know who or what order they would be fighting we worked on everything, especially conditioning since the winner of the tournament could possibly fight a total of 9 rounds.

The first two matches would be 3×3-minute rounds and the final would be 3×5-minute rounds.

Thomas Campbell, as usual, was focused and worked his ass off in training. I was a little worried about him since his legs and neck were banged up going into the show.

I knew how hard he had work and didn’t like the fact that he would be fighting hurt.  But I also know that Thomas has heart and will fight no matter what.

This is a good trait in a fighter, but only if he is honest with himself and his trainers on whether he is “hurt” or “injured”, there is a big difference.

Steven Durr started off really focused and hungry for the fights.  He knew the way the brackets were laid out that if he and Thomas both won, they would face each other in the finals.

I think this was always in Steven’s head since they train with each other and have fought each other once in the past.  Steven wanted to take the loss from their earlier match-up back from Thomas.

Even though they are now friends, it has always eaten at Steven that Thomas had a win over him.  But I figured it would just motivate Steven to work harder and fight his ass off.

Thomas did just as I thought he would and won the first two match-ups with his wrestling abilities.  Both fights were decisions, but he had won 5 out of the 6 rounds he had fought.

In between fights he was icing his legs down and was in a lot of pain but in good spirits and ready to fight.  Thomas has to be the strongest fighter I have ever trained mentally.  He is 100% sure he is going to win going into every fight.

Steven’s training was going really well until a week or so out from the show when he and his girlfriend started having problems. They broke up a few days before the fight and I knew that he wasn’t focused going into the event.

To my surprise and dismay she showed up at the fights.

Steven just never got out of the gates and lost a decision in the first round of fights.  If Steven’s head was on right he could have made the finals.  The guy that beat Steven ended up fighting Thomas in the finals and I know that normally Steven should have beaten this guy.

This shows how much the mental part of it is a key to winning.  Your body and technique can be dead on but if your mind isn’t focused you are fucked.

Thomas won the final with a submission.  He fought two weeks later and defended his KYFC 145 title with a submission in the 1st round.  Thomas has a few title matches coming up and then hopefully we will turn him pro.  He is now 16-2 and has proven himself to be one of the best 145ers in the region.

Steven is heading to Virginia for a title fight and seems to have put the girl behind him and is training the way he should be.  If we get his head straight he will make a good pro soon.

By: Ron Dayley

Ron Dayley is a trainer, manager, promoter, and owner of SSF Submission Academy. He is the author of’s popular “Coach’s blog” which is published about once a week or sometimes more often if he needs to vent. You can find previous editions of “Coach’s blog” in our archives.

Leave a Reply