Following a highly successful amateur career, light-heavyweight prospect Zac Cavender made his pro debut at Final Fight Championship 34 last November and was able to come away with a first round TKO victory.
For Cavender, making his pro debut went better than he could have hoped, as he was able to remain calm going into the bout and ended up having a strong performance.
“I thought it felt great,” Cavender told MMAWeekly.com. “That was actually my first time fighting out of state. It was an awesome experience, especially going in as a new pro going into a larger promotion and experiencing that.
“I thought I’d have more nerves; I normally have a lot of nerves before my fight, so I’d assume it it’d be two times worse for my pro debut in Las Vegas, but I almost didn’t have any nerves. Everything felt right. It was an awesome and a surreal experience.”
While he was able to gain a lot of experience over the course of a couple years in the amateur ranks, Cavender is excited to be able to show his full game with the more open rules as a pro.
“I had taken almost a year long hiatus from fighting just to train and get better, but a lot of the techniques and things that I’m good at are things only pros can do,” said Cavender.
“I love elbow strikes, I love head kicks and knees to the head. When it comes to grappling, leg locking is one of my specialties, and heel hooks are everywhere, but you can’t use those in amateurs.”
For his second pro fight, Cavender (1-0) will face Chris Thompson (0-1) in a 205-pound main card bout at SteelFist Fight Night: March Mania on Friday in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“He’s a bigger, athletic, guy,” Cavender said of Thompson. “I’ve watched pretty much all of his fights. I just see a lot of unpolished athleticism with him, so no matter where the fight goes; whether it’s standing or on the ground; I feel like my skill level is just a mark above his.
“As long as I keep my conditioning high and don’t gas out or get tired, I feel like I’ll be able to finish him whether the fight goes to the ground or stays standing.”
Having just started his pro career, Cavender is looking to establish himself over the coming year and then begin making a push towards larger opportunities in 2020.
“I’m definitely looking ahead,” said Cavender. “I want to make it to a bigger promotion. I’m just fighting for fun or as a pastime or hobby. I love MMA. It’s pretty much my whole life.
“My goal is to do at least four fights in 2019 and be on the doormat of a larger promotion like Bellator, the PFL, or the UFC in 2020. I want to make it to one of those bigger stages and show everyone that I’m a next level fighter.”