When Brandon Demastes steps into the cage on February 10 at XFC 16: High Stakes there is going to be much more at play than just another fight.  Not only will Demastes be competing for the largest promotion he has ever fought for, but the former NCAA Division II football player will also be making his professional debut in his opponent’s hometown.

But while Demastes, who went 5-2 as an amateur, isn’t expecting to get much love from the partial Knoxville crowd, it’s a reality that he has grown accustomed to.  As a native of West Virginia, Demastes is used to fighting on his opponent’s home turf since the state didn’t legalize MMA until March of 2011.

“Being from a state that didn’t legalize MMA until recently I’ve basically always been the outsider when it comes to fights,” Demastes said. “So I kind of block out the aspect of me being the underdog or everybody rooting for the other guy. I just have to go in there with my game plan and fight my fight and not worry about the crowd.”

And while he might be looking past the Knoxville fans, Demastes isn’t overlooking his opponent Scott Holtzman who will also be making his pro debut after going a perfect 5-0 as an amateur.

Training out of Shield Systems in Knoxville under BJJ Black Belt Ben Harrison, Holtzman has shown just how dangerous he can be on the ground with the majority of his wins coming by submission.

Despite knowing how dangerous his opponent’s submission game can be, Demastes, who spent some time training with wrestlers from Ohio Valley University, is confident in his abilities if the fight does indeed go to the mat.

“I’m not worried about going to the ground,” Demastes said. “I think that everybody here has prepared me really well for my ground game and for all the jiu-jitsu and submission counters.”

Demastes also said that he feels much more prepared going into this fight thanks in part to getting in a full training camp, which is something he wasn’t able to do in the run up to his two decision losses as an amateur.

“I definitely feel much more physically and mentally prepared for this fight being able to get a full camp in,” Demastes said. “Just doing that boosts your overall self-confidence and everything else getting ready to go into the fight.”

As for any aspirations for his professional MMA career, Demastes is taking it one fight at a time.

“Right now I just want to get this fight out of the way and hopefully get a win here,” Demastes said. “I worked a full-time job and decided to quit just so I could pursue this fight. A win would not only mean a lot for me financially but it could definitely launch and further my career too. It would be huge for me.”

Brandon Demastes would like to thank Chad Marsh, On Point Athletics, Brian Furby and The Matthew Wellington Group, Rob Nickerson and Reaction MMA, Hyre’s Country Haven, Get Em Boy, Swole Sports Nutrition, Lexani, Lamark Media, and all of his friends and family who have supported him 100 percent.

XFC 16: High Stakes takes place at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium in Knoxville, Tenn. on February 10, and will be broadcast LIVE on HDNet. Tickets are still available and can be purchased on the XFC’s website at OfficialXFC.com.

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