Tyler Freeland (L) photo via ShogunMMA.com

Shawn Tompkins student Tyler Freeland has amassed a 15-6 record as an amateur, but even with all of that experience, he expects that his pro debut on Feb. 18 at Tachi Palace Fights 8 in Lemoore, Calif., will be different.

“It’s a big step, going from amateur to pro,” Freeland said. “Amateur fights are three minute rounds instead of five, and I’ll be getting paid finally. Everyone says going amateur to pro is like going from busboy to head chef.”

Having been born with hypochondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, Freeland stands at just five feet tall. But talking to him, you can tell he certainly doesn’t want any preferential treatment and doesn’t let that hold him back in the cage or in training.

“Everybody’s going to have a reach advantage on me because of my height and the length of my arms,” he told ProMMAnow.com. “I usually like to wait for [my opponent] to start throwing his punches and counter off of that. But I work on forcing my way in, also. This camp I’ve been working a lot on combinations to the body that I’ve never used before.”

An Idaho state wrestling champion in high school, Freeland will face Diego Melendez, who submitted Freeland in 2009. But Freeland is more prepared this time around.

Freeland said that he didn’t take their first fight seriously enough. Now he’s tightening up his skills and training hard with the Las Vegas-based camp.

“My [Jiu Jitsu] game has come along a lot from where it was,” Freeland said. “Back home I was only getting half the training I am here. I see a big step up in my game.

Training here is ten times harder … I’ve been training a lot on my Jiu Jitsu defense because I know he’s obviously going to try and submit me.”

Against Melendez, Freeland seems less concerned about the professional spotlight and more focused on redemption.

The TPF 8 card features UFC veterans David Loiseau, John Gunderson, and Fabricio Camoes, as well as top flyweights Jussier da Silva, Ulysses Gomez, Darrell Montague, and WEC vet Ian McCall. On top of that, the event will stream on MMAJunkie.com.

Still, even with all of the attention and exposure, Freeland simply wants to erase the memory of his poor effort against Melendez in their amateur showdown.

“Last time, like I said, I didn’t train enough at all. I went down and fought him, and just thought whatever, I’ll go in there, have some fun and beat him. I think it’s a little more exciting because I’m going to have to prove to everybody that’s watching … get them to say, ‘Wow, he really did train this time. He was ready.’”

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