Tonight from the Palms in Las Vegas, Nev., Ron "The Choir Boy" Stallings (9-3, 1 NC) will be making his Strikeforce debut when he takes on the dangerous striker Adlan Amogov (7-1-1) at Strikeforce Challengers 17.
Stallings' mixed martial arts career began nearly eight years ago, at the age of 20, at an event called Reality Fighting. But being a basketball player growing up, he did not take the traditional road to start his mixed martial arts career.
"I did martial arts when I was growing up," Stallings recently told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "I did a couple of different styles. I started with tae kwon do and some other stuff before I joined team Lloyd Irvin. But, I should have done wrestling (laughs).
"I started in grappling tournaments. We got an invite to a NAGA tournament and I was like, 'Let's just do it. Let's try it out.' then I took an amateur fight, just to see what it was like."
Although his amateur debut did not go his way, it did not deter Stallings from his goals as a professional mixed martial artist.
"I lost my first amateur fight," Stallings said. "Come the next fight, the promoter made us all turn pro. I was excited; I got to start my record over brand new.
"I had another teammate on the card, so I was amped. There was no nervousness, I was just ready to handle business. I was ready to get that win."
In fact, Stallings got the win by defeating Rocco Giordano via armbar submission less than a minute in to the second round.
Now, nearly eight-years removed from that bout, Stallings will be in the highest profile bout of his career when he steps inside the cage with Adlan Amogov.
"I've seen a few [of his] fights," Stallings said about Amogov. "Primarily what I saw is he can incorporate that karate style in his MMA game. He's going to be throwing spinning kicks and things like that. That's about it."
When asked if there were any aspects of Amogov's game that he needed to look out for, Stallings said "The way he kicks ... he kicks pretty fast and he can get his legs up really high. We trained for that. I respect the way he kicks."
But, kicks alone are not nearly enough to worry Stallings. As good as Amogov's kicks are, Stallings has no doubt that he will be able to get the better of the stand up.
"I'm going to put on the pressure, pump out the jab," Stallings said. "I'm going to be kicking like ... I respect that my opponent can kick, but like I said, I've always liked Brandon Vera, but it is my time. I've modeled my game after Brandon. We all know Vera can kick, and my kicks will be coming."
If the fight hits the ground, where five of Stallings victories have came from in form of a submission, he has no doubts that he will be able to take care of things there as well.
"If it goes to the ground, we have submissions up our sleeve."
As far as the outcome of his fight tonight, Stallings is riding high with confidence and believes that he will walk away from the Strikeforce cage with his 10th professional victory.
"It's going down with my hand raised up," he said. "By knockout or submission, in the first round."
Outside of the cage, Ron and his wife Nicole welcomed their daughter in to the world merely three weeks ago. As any parent knows, having a child will change your outlook on nearly everything, and will also give you more motivation to be the best you can be.
"It has given me more motivation to go out there and handle business," Stallings said. "A lot of sacrifice goes in to training. All the driving to and from practice...got to make it pay off."
When he's not training, teaching, or spending time with his family, Ron enjoys being on his motorcycle when given the opportunity.
"But, it has to be around 70 to 90 degrees outside," he said. "That's just perfect."
Be sure to check out Ron, and the rest of team Lloyd Irvin, at TeamLloydIrvinusa.com