Amateur MMA Prospect of the Week: Hunter Starner

Hunter Starner
Hunter Starner Credit: Youtube/SFT

Hunter Starner is a bantamweight born in Hawaii, who called Newport News, Virginia home for 13 years, and who is now fighting out of Fredericksburg, VA. He trains out of Renegade Combat Sports Club under head coach Kelly McCann. Starting his MMA journey in October of 2019 he has yet to face a setback in his career.

The young 25-year-old came into MMA with a wrestling background. He wrestled in high school and throughout college from 2015 to 1019. He was a D1 wrestler for the Virginia Military Institute.

Starner has brought that wrestling upbringing to the table throughout his MMA run. All three of his three wins come from being able to apply his wrestling. In his debut, he took on Maceo Bobbs and quickly took him down with a perfectly timed double leg. Bobbs did a good job at least getting back in the guard but as soon as his legs opened Starner jumped right into side control again. Starner locked in an arm-triangle on the opposite side and jumped across the body to lock in tight. Bobbs had no choice to give up his back and Starner took that and won with the RNC.

To go to 2-0 Starner beat Cameron Yancey in the second round. In round one Starner caught a leg kick and dominated, spending nearly the whole round on top. While powering through in tough spots Starner attempted an anaconda choke, kimura, and a triangle all in round one. In round two he caught a kick again to take the fight down. He was setting up a guillotine on top but switched grips and sunk in a d’arce choke for the tap.

His last showing coming just last May, where he beat his toughest challenge to date in Matthew Lamb. Although Starner won due to his wrestling he showed more of his skillset this time out. His striking looked promising, his footwork looked good, and his defense was impressive. In round three Starner defended a takedown and cradled a leg to get on top. Moving into side control, Starner locked in an arm-triangle on the opposite side and jumped across the body and Lamb tapped.

Starner is an excellent wrestler and it’s going to take a darn good amateur to be able to fend him off. In all facets, he’s a solid all-around wrestler. Starner is good at letting guys come forward and use their momentum to take them down. He’s got a good single leg, double leg at space, good at catching kicks, and has outstanding chain wrestling. Even as impressive as his wrestling has been, Starner is also a skillful grappler. His positional grappling has looked outstanding. Being able to methodically set up each move/pass is a fantastic feat. He’s been in positions where he’s losing control but his wrestling, position, and excellent scramble ability have bailed him out.

There are concerns about his stand-up but Starner has looked good in some areas. He has good movement, and is a fighter who is pretty light on his feet with a good bounce to his step. He draws his left hand back like a piston and it looks like his best weapon on the feet. Another thing to like is his hands are high, and he keeps them high throughout the fight.

Hunter Starner is fighting this Saturday in Winchester, Virginia for the Rocket Combat Sports promotion. He’s scheduled to fight Josh Armstrong who doesn’t look too threatening with a 6-7 record. He is still the most experienced fighter Starner has fought however, so it’s a good challenge for the young man.