Nashville MMA’s own John Salter won’t have to travel far for his next fight, as he will compete at XFC 18: Music City Mayhem right down the road, for the most part, at the Municipal Auditorium on Friday, June 22.

Salter, who has fought in the UFC and Strikeforce, is one of the top guys out of the middle Tennessee camp, which is owned by instructor Ed Clay. The camp has produced many solid coaches and fighters, including Salter, and has provided the middleweight with a quality training camp coming into this bout.

“We’ve got together a really good training camp with Shawn Hammonds, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Lloyd Irvin, and Chris Davis, who is fighting in the Bellator 205-pound tournament on Friday, (along with) Dustin West who is fighting on the card as well and a friend of mine, Chris Barnhiser, who trains with Team Quest in Portland, Oregon, and took the time to come down and help me get ready for the fight,” Salter told The MMA Corner. “It’s been a good training camp and I really appreciate everyone helping out.”

Salter (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The 27-year-old’s opponent for Friday will be Reggie Pena, who holds a career record of 9-5 including a handful of fights with the XFC promotion. Pena is coming off a decision win at XFC 14, but most of his victories have come by way of knockout or submission. Salter is well aware of his opponent’s credentials, but has the typical mindset coming into Friday.

“I’m really just doing the same things I always do,” admitted Salter. “He’s a pretty good wrestler with good stand-up, and his ground game looks pretty tough, (but) my mindset is just like normal. I’m going to go out there and push the pace.”

Also, Salter isn’t worried about a game plan in this meeting, and is just ready to scrap.

“I’m trying not to go with a huge game plan before the fight because in the past when my game plan fell apart, I fell apart. I just want to go out there, go after him, and see what happens. I think this is a tough guy, but I think I’m a little bit better in every aspect. I think it’s going to be a good fight for me,” added the middleweight.

When looking at the record of Salter, what stands out is the amount of early finishes. In his 10 fights, the Nashville-trained fighter has never gone to a decision. Salter is focused on adding another knockout or submission to his record, but says he is prepared to go the full 15 minutes as well.

“I’m always ready to go to a decision. I don’t mind fighting three rounds and grinding it out, but I’m also always looking to finish,” explained Salter. “If I see an opportunity to finish, I will. If I hurt him on the feet, then I’ll go after him. If it’s on the ground, then I’ll go after a submission. I think this is going to be one of those fights where he’s gonna be ready to stand in there and grind too, so we’ll both be looking for finishes. I don’t ever go into a fight where I have to finish in the first round or anything, but it’s always nice when you do.”

Many casual fans aren’t familiar with the XFC promotion, but the future is bright for the regional organization. It features many up-and-coming stars, and with a TV deal on HDNet, CEO John Prisco and his staff are moving in the right direction.

This will be the first appearance for Salter inside the XFC cage, but he has noticed the improvements that have been made already, and is very impressed with what the promotion has to offer.

“From what I’ve seen from the XFC, I like it,” Salter said. “It seems to be a pretty professional organization. They do a good job on HDNet, and everything so far that I’ve seen seems very credible.”

Salter (L) works for a takedown (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Salter has a solid background to which he an compare the XFC’s product.  He competed in the Octagon with quality UFC opponents, but had an unfortunate release after going 1-2.

Whether a fighter is an amateur or veteran, their dream is to fight for the UFC. Salter can see himself back in there competing against the best in the world, but he wants to avoid a case of tunnel vision where his only priority is a return to the Octagon.

“I think that’s a real possibility,” stated Salter, “but I don’t just wanna look at it and say, ‘I just gotta get back in the UFC,’ because I think if I do that, I’m gonna end up passing up other opportunities. It’s obviously one of those things that will be nice if it happens, but really whatever the best opportunity is that presents itself is what I’m looking for. If that’s fighting for the UFC, that’s great. If that’s fighting for XFC, that’s great too.”

But before any UFC talk comes up, Salter must first take care of business on Friday. How will he do that? Well, the hometown guy is certain he will leave the Municipal Auditorium with an impressive win.

“I know I’m gonna come out with a win and I’d love to finish it as soon as possible. Every second you’re out there with a tough guy like him is a second something can go wrong, so I plan on finishing.”

John would like to thank God for giving him the ability to do this, his wife, family, and everyone that has helped him along the way. Also his team at Nashville MMA and his sponsor Clinch Gear, who has a new wrestling line to check out.

Photo: John Salter (red gloves) back mounts his opponent (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.