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Engelkes, Scott Square Off in Pro Debuts at Caged Aggression 28

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Caged Aggression: Tyler Scott vs. Trace Engelkes

by Matt Lo Cascio

It’s time to level up. Two of the area’s top-ranked amateur fighters will square off Friday night when Trace Englekes and Tyler Scott fight at Caged Aggression 28 in Iowa, with each fighter making their pro debut.

Top-ranked amateurs from the same area fighting each other sounds like something that would happen down the road in their pro careers after racking up some wins and getting established as pros. But not these two. They seek out and don’t shy away from big challenges. While they may not know each other personally, there is certainly mutual respect between the combatants.

TFC Tyler Scott

Tyler Scott gets his hand raised after winning the TFC title in 2018. (Photo Credit: Chicago’s MMA)

“I know he has a solid Muay Thai background and has had a pretty good number of fights,” Englekes said of Scott. “I find that when thinking about an opponent a lot of people tend to sit around and make a beast out of the guy they’re fighting. I prefer to sit around and make a beast out of myself. Whatever my opponent does or has done is none of my concern. I’m sure he’s done great things, but at the end of the day, win or lose, what I’m doing and how I feel about myself is the difference-maker. Mentally speaking, that’s just where I thrive.”

Like Engelkes, Scott is also well aware of his opponent’s skills. “I know that he was ranked below me before I got removed from middleweight rankings,” Scott said with a laugh. “But seriously, I know he is a stud wrestler and has steamrolled through other opponents. It would be naive of me to not be aware of his wrestling, but I would say the challenge excites me more than concerns me.”

Trace Engelkes put on a wrestling clinic against Zac Riley and won the XFO middleweight title in 2019. (Photo: Tomba Images/XFO)

Those are more kudos than fighting words, but you shouldn’t expect a lot of trash talk from either fighter. They’ve surrounded themselves with accomplished coaches, fighters, and training partners, eyes firmly fixed on the goals they’ve set out to achieve.

Engelkes spent his amateur career under Shayne Adams at Northern Illinois Combat Club and moved to train at the prestigious MMA Lab in Arizona last June. Adams will still be in his corner on fight night.

“Trace is extremely coachable and he does exactly what he says he’s going to do,” Adams told Chicago’s MMA. “He made being one of his coaches easy. Trace will succeed and excel at any endeavor he embarks on.”

We’ve seen a number of fighters leave the Chicago area and move out of state to further their careers. It’s never easy for them, even if the move is beneficial.

“Leaving NICC was very tough. They took me in and became family so fast it was a little crazy,” Engelkes said. It will always be my home. Shayne Adams is a phenomenal coach and even better human being and has been nothing but supportive of me. He will always have an invitation to my camp and corner. When I decided to take this fight he actually visited for a weekend to come to a sparring session and help get my camp started.”

Moving to a renowned gym like MMA Lab is exciting, but like any major life change, it can also be a bit intimidating.

“I was a little star-struck at first, but realizing that I belonged there brought me back to reality,” Engelkes said. “Rolling with the best and holding my own was a huge confidence booster. I’ve gotten to train with some of the best guys in the world, like One Championship Title contender James Nakashima and the UFC’s Jared Cannonier. Everyone is super down to earth and wants to see you succeed just as bad as they want their own personal success. I think that’s a special thing to find.”

Scott is the head coach at Dominion MMA and his team is filled with some of the best fighters in the area.

“I don’t have the big-name camp, but I do I have a camp completely centered around me right now,” Scott said. “Daniel Vizcaya runs my camp and I’ve been training with him for almost my entire career. He is a TUF and Bellator veteran and has wins over guys like Jack Hermanson. He knows me and he knows the fight game in and out. Brian Akins both works and acts as a training partner for me. He’s fought in Bellator as well and has headlined shows like HFC. In addition, I bring in top local wrestlers, BJJ athletes, and TBA Thai boxing champions to give me different looks.”

Tyler Scott and Brian Akins

Tyler Scott and Brian Akins of Dominion MMA team up at work and in training. (Photo: Facebook/Tyler Scott)

Akins loves working and training with Scott. “I get insight on the traditional side of martial arts and consistent work with another high-level striker,” Akins said. “I didn’t consider myself a striker until I was told by him. Crazy, I know. He’s a lifetime martial artist and it shows in the gym every day. And that will show in this fight. No one will want to stand in there with a strong striker. He’s been ready for the professional ranks.”

While Scott is known for his striking and gives props to Engelkes for his wrestling credentials, he reminds us that MMA fights are not grappling matches.

“Trace is a stud wrestler for sure. But that’s wrestling, just grappling,” Scott said. “In all of my fights, I was the less accomplished grappler on paper than my opponents. It’s true that Trace is even more accomplished than those guys but as far as MMA grappling goes, it’s different. It’s not a wrestling match, it’s a fight. I don’t have the wrestling experience Trace does, but I have far more fighting experience than he does. It’s not about one skill you have in your tool belt, but about being able to use the right tools at the right time.”

Engelkes made the move to MMA Lab to refine and add skills, striking foremost among them. “Obviously the big focus for me these last 18 months has been developing my striking,” Engelkes said. “I certainly feel a lot more comfortable on my feet and I’m more prepared to trade leather. The goal is to win though. You wouldn’t go into war only shooting your sidearm, so don’t expect me to avoid my big guns.”

Caged Aggression 28

Both fighters are incredibly grateful and excited to be making their pro debuts for Caged Aggression. Promoter Mike Goodwin is stoked to see how this one plays out.

“We have a special treat with this matchup featuring two #1-ranked amateurs making their long-awaited professional debuts,” Goodwin said. “We are happy to be able to host their pro debuts. Lucky for us it also happens to be a stellar match up on one of the largest two-night events in Caged Aggression history!” Local fighters Jacob Heavlin, Joey Reis, and Demarkus Griffin are also fighting on the Caged Aggression cards this weekend.

Expect to see both Scott and Engelkes regularly on your TVs in the near future. But first, click here to purchase the Caged Aggression 28 Pay-Per-View.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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