The underdog. That is some tricky business right there. The underdog can be real. The underdog can be manufactured. Regardless of how it comes about, nine times out of ten, the underdog is a fallacy, as most people create their own limitations. Take that variable out, and the underdog moniker does not have to be a factor.

Many underdogs stick out in the sporting world. Athletes like five-foot-nine quarterback Drew Brees, five-foot-seven point guard Spud Webb, or even former MMA newcomer Ronda Rousey. They all worked hard, got better and earned titles in their respective sports. But, none of them come even close to the most relevant underdog of all time, Thomas Edison.

It took Edison 10,000 failed experiments to invent the incandescent light bulb. Anyone has to think that on experiment number 9,999, his colleagues had him pegged as the biggest laughing stock of the science world. However, he stuck with it, persevered, and eventually made all of those critics look more irrelevant than they ever thought he could be.

In MMA, underdogs have popped up often throughout the sport, and many high-profile fighters were once thought to be nobodies. UFC women’s bantamweight champ Rousey, former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, and even Roy Nelson, former winner of The Ultimate Fighter were all once in positions of potential irrelevance, but they made it to the top. Well, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance has one obscure title contender that is perfectly fine flying under the radar.

Darrick Minner grew up poor in a small, Midwestern town. His grandmother’s love of boxing led to him competing as a wrestler as he was growing up. He spent most of his early life surrounded by combat sports. By the time Minner was out of high school, MMA was exploding worldwide, and the sport is very easy for good wrestlers to transition into. He quickly took to MMA and hasn’t looked back.

Minner now trains as a professional fighter out of Premier Combat Center in Omaha, Neb. In his nine wins, he has submitted seven opponents, knocked out one and took one by decision. All three losses have come by submission. He, without a doubt, puts on exciting fights, win or lose. So, what would make this tough-ass wrestler an underdog in any fight?

This Friday night, apparently, Luke Sanders is the reason.

Luke Sanders is an undefeated Tennessee native who fights out of the famed Arizona gym The Lab. Under the tutelage of BJJ black belt John Crouch, guys like Benson Henderson, Efrain Escudero, Yaotzin Meza, and Alex Caceres, to name a few, are his training partners. He has a wrestling background and has outstruck most of his opponents, always on the mat. However, none of that means anything to Minner. Nor, should it. So, when Ed Soares, Anderson Silva’s old coach and the head honcho at Resurrection Fighting Alliance, offered Minner a fight with title implications, he had to take it.

“I found out a week or two after my last fight,” said Minner in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner’s Dan Kuhl. “He called for another opponent, – we were going to fight at 145 [pounds] against some kid from South Dakota – but, Ed called [my manager] Train and said he wanted me to step in and fight in the number-one contender fight at 135, so that’s where we’re at.”

Minner is a natural 135-pound fighter. He has only fought at 135 and 140, so this was a no brainer. Of course, facing an opponent with a stellar undefeated pedigree brings a ton of baggage. As far as Minner is concerned, that baggage is full of fuel and he’s eating it up.

“This fight is going to be awesome, because I love being the underdog,” Minner intimated. “I love people counting me out. Right now, they’re counting me out of this fight. Everybody has Sanders picked to win, which is cool, because I’ve been the underdog before. In my first RFA fight, I was the underdog. My last RFA fight, I felt like I was the underdog. So, all the pressure’s on him. I don’t feel no pressure to sell tickets. I don’t feel pressure to sell anything. I just get to go up there and fight, for the first time in my career. That’s going to be awesome.”

Minner is not delusional or cocky. He is just really confident, and he should be. In his last fight, his opponent tried to strike hard and early, and the Nebraskan took him down with ease, and finished the fight in 33 seconds. In his last RFA fight, he arm-barred Austin Lyons in the first round. All of his finishes have come in less than four minutes. Minner’s not exactly failing 10,000 times like Edison. However, he does know that he’s facing his toughest opponent yet, and he’s coming ready to scrap.

“I just know he’s kind of like a good, all-around fighter,” explained Minner. “He’s going to be short and strong. I know he just wants to bang me against the cage, take me down, and just bang me and lay on me. I feel like he’s going to want to throw bombs and get me against the cage. That’s pretty much how I feel he’s going to take the fight. I know he trains at The Lab. They have some good guys down there, but so do I up here.”

Sanders has always seemed to be a fighter with one game plan, but that strategy has been effective. He does the same thing every fight, but it always works.

“He wrestled [his opponents] to the ground, and that’s how he finishes guys mostly, with ground-and-pound,” Minner elaborated. “I don’t think he wants to fight on the feet. Once I push him into deep waters, I don’t really see a challenge. As long as I go in there and stick to the game plan, I think I’ll come out the winner. He’s going to be tough, but that’s all I want to fight right now – tough guys.”

With seven submissions, some might say that Minner also has a predictable game plan, but that is not by design. He is a well-rounded fighter, but the ground game just happens to be a strong suit with his wrestling background. Plus, his opponents have made it somewhat easy to take the fight to the ground. Make no mistake, he will take the fight wherever it goes.

“I’m good at mixing it up,” said Minner. “The strikes, the takedowns, whatever. We got a new boxing coach over the last few months, Jose Campos, and he’s really turned my striking around. Plus, I’ve got Kurt Podany, a world-class Muay Thai coach, and I feel like I’m just improving. I never go out of the gym. I take two or three days off after my fights, win or lose. My striking’s come a long way, and, hopefully, I’ll get to show that in this fight, you know?”

Darrick Minner is an up-and-coming prospect with a bright future. He has the biggest fight of his career at RFA 17 this Friday night, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. live on AXS TV. This will be the first-ever legally sanctioned MMA event in the Mount Rushmore State. Call him an underdog, but do not count this guy out. He’s coming for that title shot, and no hype or opponent’s pedigree is going to affect his will to win. Minner knows what’s on the line, and he’s ready for the next step of his career – an RFA bantamweight belt.

“I want to get back in the cage pretty much whenever they want to get that title fight. Hopefully, right off the bat. That kid just won in Colorado for the number-one contender fight. I think they’re trying to get that here in a couple months, right after this fight. That’s what I’m hoping. If not, they allow you to take fights outside, so we’ll just get back in the cage whenever. I’m ready.”

Minner would like to thank DC Management, Premier Combat Center, and all of his coaches and training partners. He would also like to thank his sponsors, West Central Bar & Grill, New Tech Construction, BB Roofing, LaReeses Beauty, Benefiel Trucking, Strategic Tattoo, Soldier Sports, Larson Motors, Caged Combat Wear, and CageTix.com. Follow Darrick on Twitter: @DarrickMinner