Hunter “The Future” Worsham, a member of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne and son of mixed martial arts (MMA) pioneer Cal Worsham, will square off with Nashville resident Zach Underwood in a middleweight (185 pounds) preliminary bout at the Strikeforce Nashville: Henderson vs. Shields mixed martial arts event at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, April 17.
The 26-year-old Worsham, a married father of one, is stationed at Fort Campbell, located an hour away from Nashville. The upcoming matchup represents the biggest opportunity of his career.
“It is an honor to be fighting on this show. The fact that Dan Henderson is headlining (against Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields) is an honor in itself,” said the 6-foot1 inch Worsham. “But I believe this is the level I should be at. Strikeforce is where I want to be. They’re right in my backyard.”
A four-year high school wrestler, Worsham competed for Cordova High in Rancho Cordova, Calif. for three years and, in his senior year, for Folsom High in Folsom.
“I wrestled throughout high school, but I’d been into cage fighting since I was 13,” said Worsham, who’s father fought in some of the earliest UFC events in the mid-1990’s and owned a gym with MMA legend Don Frye. Hunter started doing MMA when he was 17 years old and, before the elder Worsham retired, father and son fought on the same card, each winning by knockout on Aug. 4, 2007.
Worsham, who entered the Army on Sept. 3, 2008, trains three times a day when he is not in the field or is off work.
“This fight isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a way of life for me (outside of the Army). In school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but fighting came naturally. I wasn’t in a lot of street fights but, with red hair and glasses, I got picked on a lot.”
The bullying ceased almost immediately after a conversation with his father.
“When I told my Dad, he said to ‘never let another kid touch me again.’ That’s when I started to really train hard. Besides, I’d figured why fight in school or on the streets when I could just go do it and look good in front of a crowd, while making some money and being honest about it.
“I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without my Dad, who won five of seven title fights and fought a lot of the better guys that others wouldn’t. However good I am in this sport is because of him.”
Worsham turned pro in April 2007 and fought four times that year. Due in large part to his stint in the service, this will be just his third start in two and a half years and second since donning the army green.
Worsham won his second MMA belt in his last outing when he captured the Gladiator Challenge light heavyweight (205 pounds) title on March 6 with a 2:43, first-round submission (armbar) over Phillip Brown. He captured the Gladiator Challenge 170-pound crown with a crowd-pleasing, five-round unanimous decision over Niko Medina on Aug. 13, 2008.
Worsham hasn’t heard officially but he expects to be deployed shortly after the fight on April 17.
“It has all worked out for the best,” he said. “Everything I do, serving in the Army, fighting in MMA, is for my wife and our 16-month-old. It is definitely tough leaving them behind, but the upside, fighting on this Strikeforce card, or any other, is all for them.”