Chris Honeycutt, 197-pound finalist for Edinboro University at the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, will be one of eight mixed-martial arts fighters vying for a $50,000 prize in a one-night elimination tournament to be held in Tulsa in late June.
Event details came together this week, as sponsor BattleGrounds MMA finalized the field by announcing Thursday Brock Larson as the eighth fighter to participate in the tournament for welterweight (170-pound) fighter which required special clearance from Oklahoma authorities which was granted Wednesday.
The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission unanimously passed a petition for rule changes for the event -- promoted as Battlegrounds: One Night Elimination (O.N.E.) – incorporating a format that had been once a staple in mixed martial arts competition but had pretty much disappeared because of safety concerns.
The approved format for the Tulsa event – to be held at BOK Center on June 27 – incorporates a modified version of Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Elbows will be illegal in all fights except for the final. The preliminary tournament fights will also feature three five-minute rounds, with the final going five rounds. Opening-round matchups for the tourney will be randomly drawn at the show’s official weigh-ins.
The idea of reviving the single-day tournament format came from Battlegrounds MMA President Kenny Monday – a three-time Olympic wrestler and Oklahoma State All-American – and Bryan O’Rourke, the organization’s managing partner.
"We've all been a part of one-night and Grand Prix elimination tournaments, and Kenny has competed countless times in a tournament format, so we recognized the energy this format brings," O'Rourke told Bleacher Report.
"We were confident we could get the format approved if we could show the safety levels went above and beyond current standards, and we've set the bar for MMA globally," said O’Rourke. "The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission is progressive, and fighter safety is their credo, so receiving their unanimous approval was proof that our plan provides the greatest fighter safety standards in the world."
Monday added, "The one-night tournament is truly the toughest test physically and mentally in all of combative sports, and BattleGrounds MMA is proud to bring this format back to life and usher in a new era of elite competition in the world's fastest growing sport."
In addition to Honeycutt, other fighters going after the $50,000 grand prize include Larson, a Ultimate Fighting Championships veteran with a 37-8 record; “The Ultimate Fighter 12″ quarterfinalist Cody McKenzie (15-4); former UFC title challenger and respected submission specialist Dennis Hallman (53-14-2); former UFC and M-1 fighter Luigi Fioravanti (24-11); five-time UFC fighter David Mitchell (13-4); UFC vet Roan Carneiro (16-9), and “TUF 11″ semifinalist and KOTC vet Josh Bryant (14-4).
Honeycutt announced his intention to enter MMA the night before his title match at the 2012 NCAAs (which he lost to Cornell University’s Cam Simaz). Honeycutt made a successful MMA debut in January 2013, and now has a perfect 4-0 record in MMA, having earned the world middleweight championship for the Up & Comers Unlimited promotion last July.
In addition to his pro MMA career, Honeycutt has kept his hand in wrestling, having won his match at Agon Wrestling Championships IV event in California in March.