Names In The Game: Cam Ward

Moving onto the next level is the constant driving factor in professional sports. With most athletes the transition from inexperienced rookie to grizzled veteran comes with a series of important steps up in competition until they finally reach the pinnacle of their sport. For one such MMA fighter, Cam Ward, now is one of those important steps up as he challenges longtime reigning Sportfight Lightweight Champion Dennis “The Piranha” Davis for his title in the main event of Sportfight 11 taking place on July 9th in Portland’s Rose Garden Arena.

With an overall 6-0 record, Ward is one of the top young northwestern lightweights around and he hopes that his first headlining fight will be the opportunity for him to showcase his skills on a broader audience. “I’m so ready for this,” commented Cam. “I’ve known this was coming for a long time and very prepared for it. I’m a professional fighter so I’m always ready for a challenge. People have been watching us for a long time and now we get to give them an opportunity to see who the best is.”

Ward is a member of the Oregon Jiu-Jitsu school, a fast rising team of hungry fighters that according to Cam has given him a great foundation to build off of as a professional fighter. “We’ve been working lots of core work. What that means is instead of trying to get crazy with things we work hard on the basics and go from there. Dennis has a strong core style as well, so it’s important for this match that I be just as prepared as he is.”

Cam further commented, “I’ve been working on my hands quite a bit, I feel that reach is an important factor. I have a three-inch reach advantage and I’m going to use it. I know he loves to come over the top with a big overhand right and so I’m working on countering that and use my reach to keep him on the outside. He’s going have to extend himself to reach me and punch up to me. I’m going have it easier as I only have to punch down to him without straining myself. If I can play my reach to my advantage and do the things I like to do I’ll take the fight.”

When the fight goes to the ground this could easily become a classic match-up as both Davis and Ward have proven themselves to be extremely gifted in the submission game. “I know Dennis is well-versed in submissions, but I think mine are better. My leg locks are kind of a specialty and I know I’ve got the advantage there. We’ve rolled in the past together and I know I got the better of him and that my takedowns are better than his. He’s a champion, and I’ll treat him like one, but he’s not going to beat me.”

Being a young fighter and finally having his opportunity to shine has not changed Cam’s awareness when it comes to realizing that he’s still got a long way to go. “I’m in uncharted territory right now. This is a very important time in my life and I feel I’m prepared for anything. Scott McQuarry, my instructor, has been with me for nine years and he’s amazing, he’s helped me get ready for this, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done.”

Ward realizes that in order to make a name for himself he’s going to need sponsorship and exposure, something that doesn’t always come easy to fighters regardless of their exceptional talent. “I don’t want to fight 18 local guys or whatever to get what I want. Honestly I’m looking for sponsorships and am working hard to help promote myself, it’s not just about fighting, you have to court sponsors and do things like make flyers for yourself so people take notice.”

One thing that Cam is happy and thankful for is the opportunity to get exposure through Sportfight. The organization is quickly setting a standard for independent promotions on how to do things the right way. As Cam told MMA Weekly, being associated with such an organization is a big step in gaining respect. “I’m very happy to be involved with Sportfight. Matt (Lindland) and Randy (Couture) represent the sport so well and it’s a testament to the company that people sell out the show and have nothing but good things to say about it.”

Cam continued, “They’ve helped introduce the sport in a good light, families come out to the shows, not just the hardcore fans, but people looking to enjoy themselves and the competition. It’s not like other companies that have that kind of biker bar brawl feel to them, this show is respectable. So to win this belt and represent them as their champion is a great thing for me because the people in Sportfight conduct themselves as professionals with a great amount of sportsmanship. The company shines on its own and that reflects on their champions.”

When all is said and done, Ward’s confidence shines through as he finalizes preparations for the biggest fight of his career. “I like to think honestly that technically I’m right up there with the best. I’ve watched tape on everyone and I’ve got a strong chin, I can take a punch, my striking is getting better, and my ground game and defense is just as good as theirs are. Getting to the top is a dream, it’s what everyone shoots for and I’m no different. Working as hard as I have for as long as I have I’m going to give it everything to make sure I win.”

“I want people to know that there’s going to be two fighters out there bringing their A-game. We know people are there to see us, we won’t forget it and we’ll let it all hang out, “concluded Ward. “I’m excited and prepared. I know he’ll have more butterflies than I will because he’s got more to lose than I do. I’m the underdog and I’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m going to go in there and take the strap, it’s mine and nobody’s going to take it away from me.”