Team Alpha Male is known for having some of the best lighter-weight fighters in the world, whether it be former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber, multi-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez, featherweight contender Chad Mendes or The Ultimate Fighter 14 runner-up T.J. Dillashaw. Those are just some of the biggest, most recognizable names at that gym, but they aren’t the only stars there.

Former collegiate wrestler and current featherweight standout Lance Palmer is rapidly rising up the MMA ranks with his undefeated 7-0 record in a short period of time. “The Party” is already a champion in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance and will look to add another belt to his collection this weekend under the World Series of Fighting banner.

This fight comes on late notice for Palmer, who steps in after Rick Glenn was forced to drop out due to injury.

Palmer (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Palmer (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“This is a great opportunity, and I am thankful WSOF picked me for this fight,” Palmer told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “Opportunities don’t always come like this, so you have to make sure you take them when they come and make the most of them. I am super excited to be a part of this, but the late notice shouldn’t be an issue, because I am always training and helping my teammates get ready.”

Team Alpha Male has been on fire since the addition of coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig. In fact, at one point, their fighters were over 15-0 as a gym under Ludwig’s guidance. It’s a relationship that has the fighters growing and their records improving.

“Team Alpha Male has been a huge part of my success so far because most of those guys come from a wrestling background like myself,” Palmer explained. “With the addition of coach Duane Ludwig, our striking has come a long way in the last year or so. We used to be able to brawl, but Coach Ludwig has added some technique to our striking.”

Of course, the improvement in striking has been a great help to the Alpha Male fighters, including Palmer. However, as Palmer pointed out, most of the men at this gym come from a wrestling background. But this is MMA, and the more well-rounded a fighter is, the better. So, it’s a match made in heaven.

“It’s important not to get away from where you came from and what got you to this point, and for me, that’s wrestling,” the former St. Edwards High School and Ohio State wrestler said. “We wrestle in the gym twice a week, I coach a kid’s wrestling club here in Sacramento and I go out to train with Ohio State’s wrestling team frequently. You want to be great everywhere, but you can’t forget where you came from.”

His first exposure to MMA fans came in the background of The Ultimate Fighter 15, where Palmer was a wrestling coach for TUF head coach Urijah Faber. Of course, when entering a show like that, you are bound to gain some tips and skills, as well as national exposure.

“Coaching on The Ultimate Fighter was a great experience. We coached some great guys,” Palmer admitted. “There was mutual respect. They respected my ability to coach their wrestling and I respected that they could teach me some stuff. Cristiano Marcello helped me a lot with my jiu-jitsu, and I helped him with some wrestling aspects of his game, so it was great.”

Taking this fight with World Series of Fighting means fighting in the headliner of an event that airs live on the prestigious NBC Sports Network, a platform that reaches millions of people in the United States. This is easily the biggest match of his life, which could lead to jitters. However, this isn’t Palmer’s first rodeo.

“Being on national TV on the Big Ten Network and the ESPN network when I was wrestling, in addition to fighting on AXS TV for RFA, definitely clears up any jitters of fighting on national TV,” Palmer explained. “But I am focused, so once it’s time to fight, all of that goes to the wayside and the guy in front of me becomes my only focus. So, I don’t think being exposed on the national stage of television is going to affect me, given my previous time already on it.”

Palmer (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Palmer (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

His opponent is Georgi Karakhanyan, a man who has been easily the best featherweight within the company so far. Karakhanyan has been around for a while and is viewed as one of the top featherweights outside of the UFC.

“Georgi’s pretty well-rounded and he’s been around for a while,” Palmer said. “People say he’s in his prime or near his prime, but I feel the same way about myself. I have competed my whole life, though, and I will be ready on Saturday.

“I’m excited to get out there and show my skills with my striking, but not overdoing it and getting away from my ground game. Georgi’s a good striker with solid kicks, and he’s very active off his back in throwing up submissions. But I train with the best guys. Chad Mendes is the best featherweight in the world, and he’s my main training partner. I train with Urijah Faber, the best bantamweight in the world. Joseph Benavidez is my roommate and the best flyweight in the world. I’m training with the best guys there are and it’s making me better, so you will see an improved fighter come Saturday night.”

Looking toward the future, Palmer has himself a great career on his hands and plenty of potential to go around. Winning this title would be the biggest notch in his belt so far and add further credibility to his resume. So, what are Palmer’s goals after Saturday night?

“Win or lose, I am going to get right back into the gym to get better,” Palmer proclaimed. “Under Duane, my striking has vastly improved. My short term goals are to win this belt and to hold onto it. I want to sharpen my skills and become the best fighter I can. If I look back, I have gotten better with every fight, and I am going to continue to get better going forward.”

Lance would like to thank his managers at MMA Inc., Team Alpha Male, his friends, his family, his girlfriend, Bang Muay Thai Systems, Defense Soap, Patino Diet, GLC 2000, pinnedmovie.com, mmadraft.com and CF Athletics. Follow him on Twitter: @lancepalmer, as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Top Photo: Lance Palmer (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.