Ever since Cameron Underhill started training in martial arts and combat sports, he knew he wanted it to be a part of his life for a long time. His first foray into martial arts was when he was six years old. His parents gave him and his sister several activities to choose from and they both chose Tae Kwon Do. After a few years of training, Cameron “Showtime” Underhill was getting ready to test for his black belt but his father pulled him from training because he didn’t think a kid with minimal experience should wear a black belt. Instead, he put him in a wrestling gym, and the younger Underhill truly discovered a passion for combat sports.
But this was no ordinary wrestling gym. Underhill went to train with Paul Herrera at Empire Training Center. Herrera was a former UFC fighter, infamous for his knockout loss to Gary Goodridge at UFC 8. Herrera is a legendary wrestling coach. Underhill started training with Herrera at around nine years old and in the gym with him were legends such as Tank Abbott, Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz.
Those athletes were inspirations for Underhill and his friends, who instead of partying went to the gym to hangout.
“We had a group of kids and we all were the same age, that was are hangout. We didn’t play video games, we didn’t do drugs, we went to the gym. That’s what we did every day after school. We would do our homework at the gym. We would buckle up and train. When we had any opportunity to be around Paul Herrera, Jeremy and Justin Thomas, Carlos Garces and Kenny McCorkelll all those guys, we took advantage of that. We knew they were good for their era, we knew what was up. We all knew that we were going to be a world champion, that was always our goal.”
Throughout his teens, Underhill continued to work towards his dream. He wrestled in high school and made it to states but didn’t place. He also competed in the offseason in national tournaments. But the highlight for “Showtime” came in his junior year when he made his amateur MMA debut. There he was given a tough opponent, which he is very thankful for.
“I didn’t get an easy fight, I fought another kid, his name was Tim Tran, he was from Millenia MMA and he was tough as shit, he was so tough. I didn’t get an easy fight after my first fight, I was really blessed for that I feel. I didn’t get any false narrative. I got like, this is what it is, you better get your striking better, you better learn. I actually lost that fight, they all said that I won but the judges gave it to him. But he did, he did a little bit more damage on the feet but I was wrecking him on the ground. But man, that was such a great lesson that first fight. It made me fun with it even more. Like being sore the next day, being beat up. My parents were so happy, everybody was so proud of me. I was like I could do this, this is cool, I loved it.”
Underhill graduated high school and went to junior college where he wrestled. He did that for a year while competing as an amateur. There were opportunities for him to pursue a four-year degree but Underhill didn’t feel that academics was his thing. With that in mind and his amateur career going well, he made the decision to focus on his passion.
“I could’ve went somewhere for college but I wasn’t academically great. When I got there (Santa Anna Junior College), I was really taking off on my amateur career and I kinda had to make that decision so, I made the decision to fight.”
“Showtime” had a long amateur career, going 8-7 according to Tapology.com. He also didn’t shy away from tough competition. He faced several fighters who would end up going pro including Taylor Alfaro, Tommy Aaron and he even defeated Jordan Winski who is currently 9-1 as a professional and fighting in the co-main event on the card Underhill is fighting next on.
His last amateur fight was in 2015, he was looking forward to entering the pro ranks and making his mark. Living in the gym and becoming a gym rat. But sometimes life happens and adjustments have to be made. His daughter was born at that time and it became his obligation to her to provide the life she deserved and be the best dad he could be. So, he gave up his dream and went into the workforce. For two years he plugged away to make money and provide for her. Everyday he yearned to be in the gym and training for a pro fight. Through this time, there were many opportunities for him to give up on his dream. But he made the climb back and put himself in a position to fight again, learning that he wanted this more than anything.
“I sat down with my dad and my coaches and my counselor and I battled with it. I just wanted to get right to it. I wanted to be a pro and say f everything and just go do it. Like I said, I have really good people in my life, guided me and didn’t worry about hurting my feelings and they worried about my future. I took some time off and I had to get a full-time job, I had to be a dad. It taught me, it showed how badly I really wanted it, it showed me that I really wanted that. I was really excited for that pro debut.”
In that pro debut, “Showtime” won by submission in the first round. He admits, it wasn’t his toughest test but he was ready and that’s all that mattered.
“I fought a can, it is what it is, I don’t even care. I fought a can but I ran him over. I was ready to go.”
In his next fight, he won by submission as well, it was a last-minute opponent switch but his readiness had him prepared. Though in his last fight he suffered his first setback as a professional against Carlos Puente Jr., who is also competing at LFA 45.
Now, at 25-years old, Underhill will fight on the biggest stage of his career when he fights at LFA 45 against Natan Levy. Underhill said Levy will be his toughest opponent to date. But Underhill believes, now it’s his time.
“I think now that I’m 25, I’m a dad and I had to get smacked in the face with reality, a lot of it, not a little bit but a lot of it. It just showed me who I truly was and everybody says it but I have a lot to fight for now, I just believe this is the perfect time for me.”
He also believes he matches up great with Levy. Levy, who was born in Paris, grew up in Israel and does his training camps out of Syndicate MMA is a karate fighter with a slick jiu jitsu game. He won his pro debut LFA 36 in March by arm bar in the first round.
Underhill isn’t afraid to stand with Levy, he understands who he is as a fighter and what his path to victory is.
“I’m all around but I’m also, I don’t have an ego, I’m an honest person, for instance, I’m fighting Natan Levy. I’m taking him down and choking him out. Like I’m not going to stand there and act like a knockout fighter, I’m not, I’m not.”
“I know who I am, I’m a wrestler and I’m a great grappler. I’m a Khabib. I’m trying to be Khabib with better jiu jitsu. That’s what I want to be, that’s what I feel I am. I’m not a Conor McGregor, I’m not a Mystic Mac, I don’t go out there and touch people.”
“But don’t get me wrong, there’s been a lot of fights that I haven’t been touched and I take people down and put them to sleep and still don’t get touched, it goes both ways.”
An interesting aspect of this fight is that there is a little bit of trash talk going on between the fighters. Underhill said he received messages from Israeli fans of Levy and they talked trash and said he should act like Colby Covington and promote the fight as well. Underhill isn’t a stranger to that and enjoyed it for a while but stopped during a point in his amateur career and made it a point to be respectful. But since Levy’s fans sent him a few messages he doesn’t mind playing the game.
“His fans have been sending me DMs and running their mouths, how he’s going to kill me and all this shit.”
“It’s all good.”
Underhill believes Levy took it too personally and isn’t dealing with it well.
“I just think he hasn’t anybody really run their mouths to him. I think he’s always been the A-side, he’s been the favorite and the hometown guy. All of his opponents are kinda of shook before they fight him and I’m not going to be.”
“I think he’s a little shook, I don’t think he knows how to deal with the conflict.”
“I like this, I want him to be frantic, I’m not going to be, I’m going to be calm cool and collected. I’m going to be living my dream. I’m not going to be angry.”
Underhill believes that and believes he sees quit in Levy which will lead to him being victorious on July 20.
“This fight ends either by the end of the third round him quitting on himself because he ain’t going to be able to take it anymore or I’m going to submit him, it is what it is. I see quit I him. I just see quit in him, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen two of his fights, he was kind of quitting on himself and the guy took a crappy shot and he just guillotined him.
“There is no quit in Cameron Underhill, trust me when I tell you that. There is no quitting around here. I’d have to answer to my girlfriend and my daughter after I go home and tell them that I quit on myself. I don’t want to do that.”
“I believe this is a third-round decision or a quit on him. A kill or be killed, that’s it.”
Underhill trains at Apex MMA and is training with the likes of Ralph Acosta, CES bantamweight champion Andre Ewell and fighters from Millenia MMA.
Ewell believes in the talent and potential of Underhill and believes he has what it takes to make his dreams come true.
“He is a very determined and hard worker. That’s something that I give and is instilled in him,” said Ewell. “That man he works. He has a family and does things for his daughter, he’s a great father. Outside/inside that man can be something big. “
“He’s going to be something great, he’s going to continue to do great things.”
Underhill like his teammate, has goals of making it to the big show and he sees this fight for LFA as a stepping stone in his career. This is the first fight of a two-fight contract and is hoping to extend it. Then he wants to fight on Contender Series and then sign with the UFC.
He believes he has the talent, with hard work and the continuation of going through the process the right way, he’ll accomplish his goals.
“I’m so talented to a point, all I gotta to do is just work really hard and I’m going to get there. I’m not this untalented guy who has to practice three times a day. I know my talent and when I’m at work and it’s grueling and I’m at lunch and I’m eating my good meals and I’m resting and I’m doing the right things, I know it will pay off.”
In the spirit of entertainment and the continued back and forth between the fighters and their fans, here is one last message to Levy from Underhill.
“Natan Levy, I’m coming for you boy! You’re going to try and knock me out and I’m going to try and choke you out. I can tell you the game plan right now. So, let’s see who wants it more, that’s what it’s going to come down to.”Follow MyMMANews.com on Social Media