Name: Carrington Banks
Fighting out of: Blackzilians
The path to super stardom for 27 year old undefeated prospect Carrington Banks, has been a slow and steady one. In a sport where young fighters are often thrown to the wolves far too soon, Banks has taken the road less traveled. He only has five professional fights in his six year pro career, but in that time he has been perfecting his craft with The Blackzilians fight team, under the guidance of grappling coach extraordinaire Neil Melanson and elite training partners like “Suga Ray”-shad Evans and his room mate Abel “Killa” Trujillio.
In the cage Banks’ hard work is evident, he fights more like a seasoned vet than a blue chip prospect. He executes precise game plans, maintains composure when experiencing adversities and does not let his emotions dictate his actions. He holds victories over two UFC vets in his burgeoning pro career and the most intriguing part about this promising lightweight, is that we have yet to his full arsenal of skills come together in one fight.
Banks was born in Peoria, Illinois, where he was one of ten children with four sisters and five brothers. He followed his older brother’s lead onto the wrestling mats where he was a stand out all four years of high school. After high school Banks continued his wrestling dominance in college, first at Iowa Central before transferring to Wartburg to close out his collegiate career. When it was all said and done Banks would finish his wrestling career a 4x All American and D III national champion.
After college Banks searched for an outlet for his competitive nature and found it coaching wrestling at a local mma gym. He recognized that his grappling was better than most mma fighters and began training to become a professional fighter. He won three amateur bouts and his first professional fight primarily using his high level wrestling, but received the opportunity of a lifetime when The Blackzilians invited him to come down to Boca Raton to help Melvin Guillard train for his upcoming fight against stand out wrestler Jaime Varner. Melvin ended up moving down the road to The American Top Team but Banks found his home and moved to South Florida to dedicate his life to his passion for combat.
Banks was now sparring daily with some of the best fighters in the world and rapidly growing as a mixed martial artist. While he was not getting the cage time you would expect from a 24-25 year old prospect, he was fighting guys in the gym that would be light years ahead of any opponent he might be matched up with on the Iowa regional circuit. Fighting only once in 2013 and totally inactive in 2014, Banks impressed his coaches enough in the gym to be chosen to represent The Blackzilians on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter: Blackzilians vs. ATT, despite only having a 3-0 professional record.
On the reality show Banks was pitted against ATT knockout artist Sabah Homasi, who at 8-4, had four times the amount of professional experience as Banks. Banks implemented a flawless game plan, he stayed out of Sabah’s striking range and used a stiff jab to set up a power double leg multiple times through out their three round bout. He won a unanimous decision but did not receive another opportunity to fight due to the unique format of that season of TUF. Even though it was only one fight The Ultimate Fighter gave Banks the national exposure and name recognition required to become a future champion of a major promotion.
Following his TUF stint Banks showcased an iron chin and more dominant wrestling in a hard fought decision victory over scrappy Texan Justin Reiswerg in Legacy Fighting Championships. It would be another ten months before he would set foot in a cage due to multiple opponents pulling out of fights at the last minute. When he did return it was against UFC veteran CJ Keith in the UFC’s biggest rival promotion Bellator Fighting Championships. Yet again Banks dominated his opponent with elite grappling and lighting quick combos on the feet. The decision was so one sided one of the judges awarded Banks three 10-8 rounds, something almost never seen in mma. Bellator recently announced Banks would be fighting fellow undefeated prospect from Arizona’s MMA Lab Jake Roberts on November 19th at Bellator: 165 in what will be the vicious vegan’s toughest test to date.
Banks wrestling abilities alone would have been enough to give him a successful mma career, but the last four years he has spent training day in and day out with one of the best camps in the world, will turn him into a special talent that has limitless potential at Lightweight. Whether he continues fighting for Bellator or makes his way back to the UFC, Carrington Banks will be fighting in big money fights in the near future.
Check out highlights of Banks’ 2015 Ultimate Fighter victory over Sabah Homasi.