That first night in the cage, Killian Estes wasn’t even supposed to be on the card.
He didn’t disappoint that night in 2015, or in any other night under the spotlight since.
He’ll get another opportunity next week under those familiar lights of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort and Hotel.
ESTES WILL compete in his 10th professional fight as King of the Cage presents “New Beginning” on Thursday, with doors opening at 6 p.m., and first fights at 7.
As for that first night ...
“I wasn’t even supposed to be fighting that night,” Estes said. “I was at a show in Spokane and cornering for a couple of guys. There was a guy at 170 pounds that had someone drop out at the last minute, so I told them I’d fight. I was bringing all my fight gear with me to shows just in case that happened.”
As for the fight ...
“I ended up winning in a minute,” Estes said. “Ever since, I just fell in love with it and wanted to keep going.”
Estes won a state 4A wrestling title in his senior year at Lakeland High in Rathdrum, then moved on to North Idaho College to wrestle before leaving after his freshman year.
“I just decided to put my all into MMA instead of having any other distractions,” Estes said. “Wrestling was fun in college, but I wanted to gear more toward the fighting. I just kind of dropped everything else and started fighting full time.”
Estes enters Thursday’s fight with a 9-0 record, and currently holds the 185-pound amateur middleweight title for KOTC.
“It’s been a ride for sure,” Estes said. “I loved wrestling for Lakeland and had some awesome coaches. Rob Edelblute and Zack Horsley pushed me really hard and that helped me with the drive aspect. At NIC, when I started wrestling for Pat (Whitcomb), he busted our butts. And he got me into really good shape for a couple of those early fights. I’ve just been grinding since I started wrestling at a really young age.”
ESTES ALSO credits some workouts with Trevor Prangley as something that steered him to MMA.
“I’d been training with Trevor for quite a while,” Estes said. “Growing up, my dad used to train with him (Prangley) when he was fighting in the UFC. Once I turned 16, I wanted to start fighting in the cage and be like my dad. I ended up loving it and King of the Cage was the event Trevor was throwing at the time, so I wound up with them.”
Estes works with his dad at Coeur d’Alene Deck during the day, then trains afterward.
“It just helps me get a little more money in the bank,” Estes said. “All I really do it work and train. I don’t really hang out with people much. My focus is getting to the UFC, taking over and being a UFC champion.”
Estes has also taken some advice from former NIC wrestler Jamelle Jones, who likewise, has been active in the MMA world.
“Jamelle is one of my good friends,” Estes said. “We hang out whenever we can and train together sometimes. He gives me a lot of good criticism in my career, and it’s really helped me a lot. He’s doing well himself, and his career isn’t over yet.”
While he hasn’t competed for his alma mater in Rathdrum in a few years, Estes still has kept his eye on how the program has done.
“There’s a couple of guys that were freshmen when I was a senior that I’ve kept my eye on,” Estes said. “They’re doing pretty good. Jared Walker (who committed to Boise State before the Broncos dropped their program, and is now at Chattanooga), he’s a tough kid. The Edelblute boys, they’re all doing really well. Larry (Johnson), he’s one of my good buddies. It makes me feel really good to see them have that success. They’ve been busting their butts, and that was the legacy I wanted to leave behind. Now, they’re getting multiple state champions each year. We kind of put Lakeland on the map, and they’ve been kicking butt since.”
As far as Thursday’s scheduled bout against Ryan Thackston of Utah.
“I don’t ask many questions when it comes to guys I’m scheduled to fight,” Estes said. “I just like to fight. I just prepare myself to do the best I can.”
Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Couer d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.