Virginia Fighters Dean Lavin and Keyon Wilkins to Make Pro Debuts at Shogun Fights IV
One has been in the fight game for a little more than eight years while the other just over two, but Virginia-based fighters Dean Lavin and Keyon "Hands of Stone" Wilkins will both make their professional debuts at Shogun Fights IV this Saturday, April 30, at the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
The 28-year-old Lavin made his amateur mixed martial arts debut April 19, 2003 in Oregon for Full Contact Fighting Federation — a promotion started by Team Quest. Since then Lavin has come a long way with his comfort in the cage.
"I just have a sense of confidence when I step in there," said Lavin, the striking coach at Striking Unrivaled in Fredericksburg, Virginia. "I don’t get the nerves like I used to. I’m able to stay calm in the cage or the ring, think through the fight and make good decisions."
After a 1-2 start to his MMA career, Lavin stepped away from the cage to compete in kickboxing, where his resume includes being North American Kickboxing runner-up in 2004 and North American champion in 2005. Now he's ready to take the next step.
"Going pro is like a validation of the work I’ve done as an amateur," Lavin said. "You don’t want to do something forever and not make it to the next level."
Lavin returned to MMA in 2010, fighting for the final time as an amateur January 15 at Barbarian Fight Club’s "2011," where he finished Daniel Patrick in the first round with a body kick — making his final amateur record 5-2.
Lavin will be sticking to his roots going in to his professional debut.
"The strategy coming into this fight is the same strategy as every fight, keep it standing," Lavin said. "I want to win or lose this fight on the feet."
Lavin’s opponent in Saturday’s 145-pound bout is Ryan Mackin, a wrestler out of team Ground Control, who enters the fight with a 2-0 record.
"I expect him to take me down and grind on me," Lavin said. "But I’ve been training some slick stuff, so if he makes on mistake on the ground, I’ll catch him. And if he makes a mistake on the feet, I’ll definitely catch him."
Wilkins, who hails from South Hill, Virginia and Team No Limit, tore through the amateur ranks, amassing two reigns as the Barbarian Fight Club 145-pound champion and three main events in just two years.
"I didn’t think it would happen this fast, but I got that unexpected call I was hoping and wishing for," said the 20-year-old Wilkins. "I wasn’t trying to rush myself, but I’ll take that chance."
Wilkins’ run came to an unexpected halt in his final amateur bout on March 19, 2011 at BFC: No Limit, though, as he fell in a five-round decision to current BFC featherweight champion Casey Watson. The loss, however, did not deter his professional aspirations.
"That fight actually helped show me that I was ready to go pro," said Wilkins, who went on a five-fight winning streak in 2010 and finished with a 5-3 amateur record. "He was on a whole different level than me, but I was able to hang with him."
Wilkins’ featherweight bout against Marshall Thompson is scheduled to be the first fight of the night. Thompson is also making his pro debut on Saturday.
"If I can, I’m going to keep it standing," Wilkins said. "If not, plan B is to take it to the ground. I like to keep it standing, but my jujitsu is almost more dangerous than my standup."
For more information about Shogun Fights IV, check out www.shogunfights.com.