Sherdog Prospect Watch: Bailey Schoenfelder

Bailey Schoenfelder was built for combat.

The 26-year-old heavyweight prospect played football at the University of Minnesota—he enrolled as a preferred walk-on and eventually earned a scholarship—before he made the move to mixed martial arts. A seamless transition ensued, as Schoenfelder has rattled off five consecutive victories to start his career, all of them finishes. His skills have garnered interest, far and wide.

After four appearances on Bellator MMA and Legacy Fighting Alliance undercards, Schoenfelder was awarded a shot at Cage Fury Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Greg Velasco in the CFFC 131 co-headliner on April 12 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It did not go well for Velasco, who succumbed to punches 3:24 into the second round and surrendered his tenuous grip on the CFFC throne.

“It feels incredible,” Schoenfelder said afterward. “With the amount of work we put in, me and my team, it feels incredible to see an end result like that.”

Velasco, who outweighed the unbeaten challenger by 37 pounds, did all he could to close the distance. Schoenfelder shrugged off repeated clinches and made the Dana White’s Contender Series alum pay on the exits, either with knee strikes to the body or sharp punches upstairs. After a relatively even first round, Schoenfelder found another gear. He swarmed Velasco with shots to the head midway through the middle stanza, sprawled on his increasingly desperate takedown attempts and wheeled behind him, piling up points and damage with palm strikes, elbows and punches. Schoenfelder squashed the New Jerseyan’s bid for a leg lock, progressed to the back and flattened out “The Viking King,” prompting the stoppage with an unanswered burst of punches, hammerfists and elbows.

“I’m not even sure yet [what comes next],” Schoenfelder said. “I want to go home, take a little break and gather myself. Then I’ll make a decision.”

Schoenfelder has thrown out his anchor at the esteemed Kill Cliff Fight Club camp in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where top-shelf coaches like Henri Hooft and Greg Jones oversee his development. The academy offers him daily access to a wide assortment of accomplished stablemates, including ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Robbie Lawler, current Bellator champion Jason Jackson and former two-division ONE Championship titlist Aung La N Sang. Schoenfelder recently made the gym his permanent home.

“Before this, I was just traveling down to Florida, staying in a hotel and doing four or five weeks for a camp and then going back to Minnesota, where I was originally,” he told CFFC.tv in April. “It was mainly just committing to my fighting career. More training partners. More opportunities. Coaching staff is great. It’s just kind of a better situation all around, and I feel good.”

Schoenfelder brings plenty of physical and mental tools to the table. A certified strength and conditioning specialist, he holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota. Schoenfelder also won a state wrestling championship at Huron High School in South Dakota, and he credits those skills with forming a base from which he can operate in MMA.

“I know that I can still rely on my wrestling and especially even just the mentality,” he told Dakota News Now in 2022. “If nothing else, wrestling practices are hard. Wrestling kind of sucks. It’s tough stuff and prepares you for pretty much anything. I’d say it’s probably the main reason I was able to do this and start this—because I had that foundation.”
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