For right now, Josh Shockley's loss is Terry House's gain, and he plans to make the most of it.
Shockley was set to headline Saturday's Hoosier Fight Club 15 mixed martial arts card against "Ultimate Fighter" and WEC veteran Micah Miller, but a back injury will delay that fight until HFC 16.
Now House (5-4), of Gary, will step up a rung on the ladder into the main event against Mike Santiago (9-6) in a lightweight bout.
House, whose primary training base is at L.A. Boxing (soon to be rebranded as the area's first UFC Gym) in Merrillville, is the most veteran of all the fighters to have competed under the HFC banner, and now he headlines for the promotion for the first time. After Saturday, House will have fought as a pro and amateur on 13 of HFC's 15 cards.
"I guess it's no secret I grew up under the promotion," House told The Times. "It's a great feeling. I always have a slight advantage over my opponent – there's no better feeling than sleeping in my own bed the night before a fight, waking up to my beautiful family and having all of my friends, fans, sponsors and supporters there to cheer me on."
House did some of his training alongside Shockley before Shockley's injury, and there was another advantage he tried to take from his workout partner. Shockley has a win over Santiago in 2011, stopping him with a first-round rear-naked choke.
And you better believe House picked Shockley's brain.
"I first felt bad for Shockley's injury," House said "He's not only one of my personal favorite fighters, but he's a great guy and as classy as they come. I was glad his fight was pushed back a few weeks instead of being canceled. But Shockley's been more of a big help for me in this fight than anyone would know."
After starting his pro career just 2-4, House has come on strong in his past three fights, winning all three by stoppage.
House attributes a changing of the guard in his personal life to being able to turn things around so far in the cage.
"I was a mental case early on in my career with too many distractions," he said. "I had to get all of the squares out of my circle and cut a lot of people out of my life. I started dedicating myself 100 percent to my training, diet and mental approach. I figured out what style of fighter I wanted to be and stuck with that. Now I'm so much happier personally and a way better fighter than I was a couple years ago."
He'll be hoping to see his upward trend continue on Saturday night against Santiago, and he believes his opponent's aggressive approach will have the potential for a fan-friendly fight.
House's reputation is that of a striker who struggles on the ground – three of his four losses are by submission. But while he knows he can find success in the standup game, he won't shy away from going to the mat if he has to.
"He's a very exciting fighter – big, strong and pretty explosive off his feet," House said. "I'd have to say standup is his strong point. But underestimating my striking skills and knockout power would be a huge mistake. When I swing, I swing with bad intentions, just like he does – which is the makings of a war.
"For some reason, I've always been know as a striker because no one knows of my wrestling background. I've managed to keep that secret. But I've been wrestling since I've been walking – the ground is my bread and butter."
HFC matchmaker Paul Vale said moving House into the main event when Shockley had to fall of the card was an easy decision and that the original Shockley-Miller matchup will headline the next HFC card on June 1.
"House is on a three-fight win streak, but Santiago will be his toughest fight to date," Vale said. "House is becoming a region favorite and he deserved main-event status."
HFC 15 takes place at the Porter County Expo Center in Valparaiso.