Austin Vanderford, a 2008 graduate of Ninilchik School, improved to 8-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career with a win over previously undefeated Joseph Creer of Georgia on Saturday at Bellator 225 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Vanderford, who improved to 2-0 in Bellator, moved up to middleweight for this fight. Vanderford, who won an NAIA wrestling title for Southern Oregon University at 184 pounds in 2012, is listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, while Creer is at 6-4, 185 pounds.
Vanderford said in a press conference after the fight that throughout his career as a wrestler, he never really cut a lot of weight to fight because that can be hard on the body. In MMA, he cut all the way down to 170, so he was anxious to see how a fight went above that weight.
“I felt like he was a big opponent, too, for 185,” Vanderford said. “So it gave me a realistic look going forward what I have. I feel so nice, man, not killing myself to make 170.”
The size difference did not stop Vanderford from drawing blood on Creer and ending the fight by second-round TKO. Creer had a six-fight winning streak snapped.
“He landed a couple body kicks early on, but God’s blessed me with this big, strong core,” Vanderford said. “I didn’t really feel much. I carry a lot of my weight in my core and my legs.”
The fighter also was not slowed by the heat in Connecticut.
“Man, it’s muggy here,” he said. “It’s crazy. I’m from Alaska. I’m an Alaska boy so I’m more partial to the cold and the snow.”
Vanderford said he hopes his fighting style has him set up for bigger things.
“I’m durable, I’m tough, I’m going to go out there and I’m always looking to get a finish,” he said. “That’s my eighth fight, and I think I have six finishes in eight pro fights.
“That’s what people want to see. They want to see people get cut open and bleed, and I’m ready for it. I’m ready for that next jump. I want to take on a big name, for sure.”