Tanner Saraceno Looks to Start a Winning Streak in Valor Fights Debut

August 11, 2016

Last year, welterweight prospect Tanner Saraceno stepped out of his comfort zone of MMA and entered the world of professional wrestling with a stint on the WWE’s Tough Enough series, lasting until the second to final episode of season six.

Looking back on his time in Tough Enough, Saraceno enjoyed the experience, and feels it helped solidify his aspirations in MMA.

“It was a different world that I’d never been involved before,” Saraceno told MMAWeekly.com. “I had no idea what really went on behind the scenes of the WWE and professional wrestling in general. They got a hold me and asked me if I was interested, so I gave it a try.

“They flew me out there, I performed athletically, well above my competitors, and it showed me what I was capable of. It gave me a push more towards really putting everything I had into MMA.”

Perhaps the biggest thing Saraceno took from Tough Enough was the understanding that to succeed in sports, there’s more to it than just physical ability.

“With the WWE it’s a lot about interacting with the crowd, being able to communicate and connect with fans, which is what MMA is becoming now,” Saraceno said. “It’s not just can you fight, can you connect with the fans in some way.

“It really opened my eyes up as far as how to work social media and how to engage people. The small things I can do to make the fights more exciting, and make following my career more exciting for fans.”

TRENDING > Is a Georges St-Pierre Return Closer Than Ever as He Starts Drug Testing?

After suffering a loss in his pro debut, Saraceno (1-1) will look to pick up his second straight win when he makes his Valor Fights debut on Saturday in Gatlinburg, Tenn., against Travis Conner (0-0) in a main card 170-pound bout.

“Looking at Conner, I was not impressed with his striking,” said Saraceno. “It seems like he’s either very nervous or uncomfortable on his feet. I feel like I’m much better on my feet and a far superior grappler.

“He does look very athletic and very strong, so that’s going to be something to deal with, but I think my technique and my strength will be enough to get through that.”

After taking a bit of a break to attend a friend’s wedding, Saraceno is looking forward to getting back into action this fall and closing out 2016 in good order.

“I’d like to fight sometime mid-to-late October and then hopefully get in another by the end of the year and see where things go from there,” he said. “I certainly don’t like rushing things. We’ll see what happens after this fight and go from that.”

Follow MMAWeekly.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram