By Gary Underwood
On Saturday, July 21st, in Greenville, SC, some of the best local and regional fighters the area has to offer put it all on the line. The event is scheduled to feature six pro fights along with many more amateur matchups. The outcome of these contests is sure to determine, at least, the immediate future of the lives of the warriors set to compete. However, two additionally featured bouts are sure to put an exclamation point on the night!
First, Upstate wrestling standout elites, AJ Dickerson and David Hunsberger are set to go head-to-head in a takedown contest for bragging rights among the area’s thriving Scholastic Wrestling community. This contest is sure to be a fast-paced and high-energy show stealer, as well as an amazing platform for these two All-Americans to showcase their skill.
Dickerson, a 14 year old Powdersville native boasts a 2017-2018 record of 34-14 and has amassed a myriad of titles and awards in his career including: three Greco State Championships, three Freestyle State Championships and a 1stPlace finish at the 2018 SCYWA State Championship in the 108lb class. He represents the touted Carolina School of Wrestling in Belton, SC and is determined to solidify himself as the future of South Carolina High School wrestling on Saturday night.
Hunsberger, also 14, of Duncan comes into the contest off a 44-3 2017-2018 season during which he clinched a 3rdplace finish at the Dixie Nationals America Crown (Dickerson took 6th at a higher weight), came away with a 1stplace finish at the 2018 G2 King of the Mat tournament (Dickerson took 5that a higher weight) and also took home the gold at the 2018 SCYWA State Championship in the 101lb division. Hunsberger comes in to this contest trained by the notorious Mat Assassins Wrestling Club in Woodruff, SC and also proudly represents the Byrnes Rebels. He enters this match confident in proving himself the definitive standout in the state’s newest generation of High School wrestlers.
The parity between these two athletes is obvious, the time and place is set. Will the multifaceted skillset, grit and toughness of AJ Dickerson prevail? Or, will it be the quickness, seamless technique and tenacity of David Hunsberger that earns him the victory? The answers to these questions, and more, are sure to be answered Saturday night.
Next, the ladies take center stage as 17 year old, Woodmont High School Senior, Alexandra Martinez squares off in a Freestyle contest against Fort Mill’s very own Bella Hoffman – a young lady who enters the contest at only 13 years of age!
Martinez competes in the 101lb class and brings with her a record of titles and achievements that likely weigh more than she does. This exceptional athlete has placed at the Girl’s State Tournament three times including one championship. She has racked up several victories over her male counterparts as well; winning State Championships in Boys Greco and Freestyle tournaments. Martinez is a 2ndyear Varsity Team member at Hillcrest High School (Simpsonville, SC) as well as a member of the South Carolina Women’s National Team. Martinez is determined to leave Greenville’s Shrine Club Saturday night with her reputation as the Upstate’s premier, female Scholastic Wrestler intact.
Hoffman trains out the Darkhouse Wrestling Club in Charlotte, North Carolina and competes for Fort Mill High School. At only 13 years old this prodigy-athlete has already compiled a jaw-dropping list of accomplishments and accolades. Competing primarily in the 106lb weight class, Hoffman has amassed six-time All-American status in Freestyle and Folkstyle competition. She holds a National Ranking of 6thand recently won both the 106lb and 125lb classes at the Powerade State Games. Yet, after all of these achievements, Hoffman still finds herself at the dawn of her athletic career. She enters this show down, no-doubt looking to announce her arrival as the standard for elite, female amateur wrestling in the state of South Carolina.
Will the experience and maturity of Alexandra Martinez see her through? Or, will the athletic ability and aggressiveness of Bella Hoffman give her the edge? The world will soon find out!
With a card full of exciting match ups and meaningful fights already booked; the addition of these two matches should be an inspiring touch to local fight fans.
Grappling is regarded by many, if not most, of the sport’s elite as the best base for a successful future in Mixed Martial Arts. So, on Saturday, July 21st we not only will be treated to the “Now” of the sport in terms of headliners like Dylan Cala, Andrew Whitney, Carl Deaton III and Aalon Cruz; or only be getting a peek at the “Future”, by witnessing the climb-and-grind of up and comers the likes of Anthony Canzano and Nathan Williams.
No, we will, in addition, be in attendance for perhaps the earliest experience in an MMA setting of these young people’s careers; a potential glimpse at the newest generation of combat athletes. This is an outstanding platform and opportunity for these young competitors. It is an amazing statement regarding the state of the sport, the region and the promotion. And it is very promising for the long-term viability of Mixed Martial Arts and its evolution. I can’t wait.