Valor Fights is quickly becoming the standout mixed martial arts promotion in the Southeast thanks to the talented stable of fighters under its banner.
Tim Loy and company consistently put on great shows and have no shortage of future stars to showcase at each of their events.
However, there is only one Sid Wheeler.
The highly touted middleweight was on a meteoric rise until he suddenly hit a few setbacks both inside and outside of the cage. In June, Wheeler was in a car accident that left him severely injured and nearly put a halt to his career. Nevertheless, the resilient fighter is making his return to the cage against Robert Hale at Valor Fights 45 in Chattanooga, TN, on Saturday — just four months after his harrowing crash.
Wheeler's comeback alone is an incredible feat, but let’s take a look at why he is a fighter to keep an eye on this weekend.
An 'All-American' Rise
When Valor Fights first partnered with FloCombat in early 2016, Wheeler was a name destined for bigger things. And it didn’t take him long to back up the hype.
“The All-American Kid” had won his first four showings as a professional, but it was his fifth contest, an all-out war with Kendrick Miree at Valor Fights 33 in May 2016 that proved to the MMA world that the Tennessee native was something special. In a back-and-forth affair in which both men were pushed to their limits, Wheeler emerged victorious with a submission in the fifth and final round.
The win should have been a crowning achievement for Wheeler and one that earned him a much bigger showcase, but that’s where the uncertain twists of the fight game threw a nasty curve.
His next showing was slated to come against former UFC fighter Joe Riggs, but a last-second cancellation from Riggs put the August 2016 card for Valor Fights 36 in jeopardy. Ever the game fighter, Wheeler decided to take on a much more experienced Gerald Meerschart and paid the price as the Roufusport fighter earned a first-round submission victory.
Three fights later and Meerschart is now on the UFC roster, and that goes to show just how much Wheeler was up against by taking the short-notice tilt.
Wheeler would also fall against Brendan Allen (FloCombat’s No. 1-ranked middleweight) in the second round of their bout at Valor Fights 39 back in December.
After back-to-back defeats, the hype surrounding Wheeler could have certainly cooled, but that’s not how he likes to play it.
The Kid Returns In Search Of Glory
Wheeler bounced back stronger than ever with a one-punch knockout victory over Travis Davis back in March, which should have paved the way for his shot at the big leagues. However, Wheeler's car accident occurred three months later, throwing his life and career into disarray.
Never one to be kept down, Wheeler recovered from his injuries, did the work to regain his strength, and on Saturday night plans to prove he’s not going anywhere. The top-ranked middleweight in the state of Tennessee will face Hale in a catchweight bout at Valor Fights 45.
Make no mistake about it... Wheeler is fighting for his future in the sport. In order to build the buzz he needs to reach one of the sport's big stages he’ll need a victory and will need to do so in impressive fashion.
How to Watch Valor Fights 45
On TV: Now Available on Roku and Apple TV 4--download the FloSports app now.
STREAMING: Only on FloCombat with a PRO subscription. A yearly PRO subscription provides access to ALL FloSports sites.