Sherbatov preparing for The Ultimate Fighter - Idaho Central Arena
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Sherbatov preparing for The Ultimate Fighter

Fans of Front Street Fights already know firsthand of Yoni Sherbatov’s dynamic quick-strike skills inside the cage. His knockout ability will have an even larger audience this fall when he competes on the 24th season of The Ultimate Fighter, a production of the UFC and FS1.

Sherbatov, along with 15 other Flyweight champions from promotions around the world, will compete for the opportunity to challenge Demetrious Johnson for the UFC’s Flyweight Championship belt.

It’s a tremendous opportunity for the undefeated Sherbatov, competing on a high-profile stage for an opportunity to climb to the pinnacle of the sport. Yet it was hard work, some good timing, and also a dominant performance at Front Street Fights 7 that helped to get him to this point.

Sherbatov’s agent, Pat Wilson, remembers the months leading up to FSF7 back in November 2015 and how everything came together for his fighter.

“Honestly he had such a hard time finding fights, and I was speaking with [FSF matchmaker] Todd Carlson and that got everything going for us,” said Wilson, with Sherbatov not having fought for almost eight months before FSF7 and with only one fight since September 2014 at that time. “He went a while without finding an opponent willing to step up, but Front Street Fights got things rolling for us.”

That fight didn’t last long, as Sherbatov earned the victory by TKO just 1:18 into the first round over Freddy Arteaga. Sherbatov caught Arteaga with a quick jab and then pounced with a flurry of fists to end the fight.

After that explosive win in Boise, Sherbatov was back in the cage a month later challenging for the Flyweight title at Excessive Force FC 8. That fight lasted only 34 seconds before another Sherbatov TKO, this time over Adrian Woolley giving Sherbatov the Flyweight belt and positioning him as a champion and now a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter.

“Everything worked out perfectly,” said Wilson. “Yoni went in there and fought a tough opponent at Front Street Fights and showed that he had the great hands that he does, and everyone is aware of his ground game.”

Sherbatov’s attention now turns squarely to the tournament in front of him, with Wilson confident his man is prepared for any style of fight. Sherbatov has been working hard at his stand-up game, but is certainly lethal in the ground game. According to Wilson, the 5-0-1 Sherbatov will be aiming to, “end every fight as quick as he can.”

More often than not, Sherbatov is successful in doing just that. In six professional bouts, only two have gone the distance. The other four went no longer than 1:56 into the first round.

“That’s always the game plan for Yoni. I believe that’s why the fans at Front Street Fights loved him so much, because he goes in and goes for the finishes.”

The road to victory on The Ultimate Fighter will certainly be tough, but if Sherbatov is able to take advantage of his knockout prowess, he will have his shot at one of the best fighters in the world.

“At the end of the day we know that if everything goes well, it’s a huge task taking on Demetrious Johnson,” said Wilson. “But Yoni is excited for the opportunity. His whole goal since he started fighting was to take on the best fighters. And I think Demetrious Johnson is pound-for-pound the best in the world. You can’t ask for anything more than that. It’s extra incentive to go out there, do what you have to do, and grab a win.”

Sherbatov is just the latest Front Street Fights alum gaining traction from a Boise bout. Front Street veteran Jesse Brock signed on with World Series of Fighters this summer and Bellator MMA made its first visit to CenturyLink Arena in May.

Wilson, who works with Sherbatov’s brother Boris and manager Andy Poulos as part of the fighter’s staff, believes that Front Street Fights has already served as a steady developer of talent for the next stage of MMA.

“To me it’s a top organization and has been a great feeder for the bigger shows. Everyone runs such a tight ship over there,” said Wilson. “It’s great to deal with and if any fighter has an opportunity to compete at Front Street Fights, he should work for the opportunity to fight for a proven organization.”

“Yoni had a blast over there. He loved the fans and the support the Front Street fans have given him. He’s amazed and he appreciates it.”