ABERDEEN – Years of training have led to a pivotal moment in a local fighter’s mixed martial arts career as he prepares for his first fight on major card.
Aberdeen native Nathan “Superman” Stolen will be fighting on Friday, Sept. 21 in Boise, Idaho at Bellator 205.
Stolen, a 2010 graduate of Aberdeen High School, wrestled as a Bobcat and began his training in mixed martial arts as a hobby in 2010, the same year he graduated. His early work included training along side other professional fighters at Bad Company MMA in Aberdeen.
Despite his background as a grappler, Stolen considers his striking to be his most dangerous weapon.
“I’ve always been known to be a striker. I always move forward and I’m always putting the pressure on somebody,” he said. “I just always move forward and it breaks a lot of people.”
His striking ability, punching in particular, has proven to be potent with five of his eight wins coming by knockout. Stolen holds an impressive 8-3 overall record.
While his hands have often made it difficult for his opponents to continue, Stolen wondered if his knockouts would be enough to grab the attention of a major fight company. The lightweight fighter sees next month’s fight as validation for all the time he has spent in the gym and the success he’s had in the octagon.
“It feels like all my hard work is finally paying off. I put a lot of time into this,” he said. “I’ve been competing in MMA for almost 10 years and there were a lot of times people around me were getting to big promotions like this without having done as much. It was discouraging. It feels good to finally get what I’ve been working toward.”
Getting to a Bellator card feels like a victory in itself for Stolen, but a victory in the cage may be necessary to continue his upward trajectory.
As of now, Stolen is unsure if he will get another chance to fight in the Bellator promotion and knows that a loss on Sept. 21 could be a setback.
“There’s a lot of pressure. It’s really important to win because you’ve got your foot in the door and it’s either you get in or you’re gonna get locked out.”
The fighter standing across the ring from Stolen is also making his Bellator debut. Andrew “Hurricane” Cruz could pose a challenge to Stolen with his wrestling ability. Cruz has a record of 3-3 with all three of his wins coming by way of submission. Cruz once used an arm bar to end a fight early and has twice brought contests to close with a rear-naked choke.
Styles make fights and and Stolen thinks the fans will be entertained by the contrasting approach of the two combatants.
“He likes to come forward, so it will create a good fight and that’s what everyone wants,” he said. “Its a spectator sport and you want to put on a good fight and he’s going to bring it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Stolen also wants to put on a good show for the fans back home. With some of the fighters he trained with putting the sport aside to focus on family and career, Stolen represents one of the few active MMA fighters left in the Twin Harbors.
The turning point in his career that this fight represents, along with the pressure that comes from representing his hometown, has Stolen a feeling some butterflies, but he expects all the nerves to dissipate with the sound of the opening bell.
“I’m always nervous leading up to the fight,” Stolen admitted. “Once you get in there though, all the nerves go away and you focus.”
For more information and/or to purchase tickets, visit www.bellator.com/events/3g1t5q/bellator-205-curran-vs-mckee.