Donnie Ballou (right) with coach Scot Wegman
Sometimes a nickname is more than just a nickname.
The 26-year-old Cincinnati native has been relatively quiet in reeling off a 4-0 record to start his pro career, including four first round submissions.
He’ll get a chance to break out when he takes on Robert Walker (5-6) for the vacant Hardrock MMA pro featherweight title just outside of his hometown in Covington, Kentucky.
“Working my way up the ladder as a top prospect is something that’s always on my mind,” Ballou told BluegrassMMA. “It’s the goal. Me having such a long extensive amateur career is something that’s going to help me deal with that because I did the same thing as an amateur, I worked my way to the top of the rankings.”
Ballou had 15 fights as an amateur, including a pair of title fights and bouts against some experienced fighters. Dating back to his amateur days, just two of his 19 fights have made it to the judges with nine submission wins.
Ballou made the transition to Drive MMA last year, and coach Scot Wegman said that they’ve been working extensively on his striking game. The biggest question to many is how Ballou’s striking game looks, but to him it’s no question at all.
“Nobody knows what my standup looks like but my coaches and myself because I haven’t had to display it,” Ballou said. “Standing and trading blows isn’t my style, but if I’m forced to stand and fight I have no problem doing so. Walker is a tough fighter I’m prepared to do it all with him.”
Whether or not he has to use his striking game against the veteran Walker remains to be seen, but he’ll have yet another chance to show off his skills in the co-main event at Hardrock MMA 99.
“I hope the fans are saying I’m ‘the real deal’ viewing me as a top prospect at that weight class,” Ballou said. “Most importantly they will say, ‘We knew you’d win!’”
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