To the naked eye the next couple weeks could look extremely dismal to the average mixed martial arts fan.
Next month starts out with a bang. UFC Fight Night 18 has a lot of potential to be an exciting card which leads off the month, followed by the inaugural Bellator Fighting Championships on the 3rd, WEC 40 and Dream 8 on the 5th, and of course we have Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz on the 11th.
However, all one has to do is look a little closer on their MMA calender to see that there is plenty of action to catch before the end of the month with some extremely intriguing match ups.
Sengoku: Seventh Battle
Ryo Kawamura vs. Muhammed Lawal
King Mo is without a doubt one of the sports fastest rising prospects. Who makes their mixed martial arts debut against a veteran of over sixty fights that is currently riding a nine fight win streak? That’s exactly what Muhammed Lawal did when he stopped Travis Wiuff in his tracks in the opening round of their bout at Sengoku V. He has since gone on to fight at every following Sengoku event with the end result always being the same, stoppage victories over much more experienced competition. Lawal was a former Division I all-American wrestler for Oklahoma State and has only been training in mixed martial arts for five months. His potential is simply jaw dropping.
Kawamura, at 9-3-2, has spent most of his time with Pancrase and has split his last two fights. He dropped a decision to Kevin Randleman at Sengoku II but most recently rebounded with a decision victory over the ridiculously experienced Keiichiro Yamamiya at Pancrase: Shining 8.
A tough test for most fighters with only three bouts under their belts but King Mo is not most fighters. Expect for Mo to look impressive with a stoppage victory as usual and definitely look for him to have one of the most flamboyant ring entrances in the business.
I wish I could fast forward two years to see where King Mo has gone in mixed martial arts. Keep your eyes on him, he’s one to watch.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Chris Manuel
Hioki is generally viewed as one of the top ten featherweights in the business and I will expect for him to be a slight favorite in this one. However, I can’t tell you how many good things I have heard about Manuel. He’s a jiu-jitsu instructor at the prestigious American Top Team in Florida that has gone undefeated in eight professional bouts. If the hype coming out of ATT about Manuel is true I would give him a really good chance at pulling off the upset on his way to establishing himself amongst the top in the division.
This card is really stacked with fighters that have a lot of potential to make waves in MMA in the future. Some of the rising stars worth keeping an eye on are as follows.
Marlon Sandro: I’d be lying if I said that I have studied an abundance of tape on Sandro, but with a record of 12-0 fighting in organizations such as Shooto and Pancrase, he definitely deserves mentioning. The only thing with Sandro is, seven of his twelve victories have come by decision and being that he will be facing off with the extremely capable Matt Jaggers, I don’t foresee a stoppage in this one.
L.C. Davis: The IFL and Affliction veteran has all the early makings of a future champion. At 13-1, Davis has finished eleven of his twelve victims and perhaps most impressively, he has split his stoppages in half between submissions and knockouts. I’m not going to say anything bad about his opponent, Michihiro Omigawa, but I will say this, if they are laying any kind of odds on this bout, bet your house on Davis. You can thank me later.
Ronnie Mann: At 16-1-1, with ten submission victories, Mann is another guy to keep your eye on at Sengoku VII. He has done most of his fighting in Britain for the Cage Rage and Cage Gladiators promotions and is set to face off with Tetsuya Yamada, who holds a record of 3-0.
Nick Denis: His opponent, Seya Kawahara, has a record of 6-1, but you know what, Kawahara doesn’t have a super awesome nickname like “Ninja of Love” either. Come on, fighting out of KOTC with a record of 6-0 with five knockouts and one submission and a nickname like that, Denis has to have the goods. The “Ninja of Love”, one to watch.
Extreme Beatdown: Hinkle vs. Tuchscherer
Branden Lee Hinkle vs. Chris Tuchscherer
This one is for the hardcores. Lee Hinkle hasn’t fought in about a year and a half but he made sure to take a vacation on a good note. The Hammer House fighter defeated Roman Zentsov by decision in his lasting outing. Zentsov was riding a seven fight win streak at the time of the loss to Lee Hinkle.
Standing across from him will be Tuchsherer, who holds a record 15-1 and weighs in at a massive 265 pounds. Most notably, Tuchscherer trains out of Minnesota Martial Arts Academy and is a full time training partner to UFC heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar.
Bobby Lashley vs. Jason Guida
Lashley is one of those guys that it just doesn’t matter who he fights, he’s going to draw a ton of interest. Simply put, the guy is an absolute monster. For those of you that didn’t get the pleasure of catching Lashley in his debut, the man is flat out physically intimidating. There’s no other way to describe it. Standing at 6′ 3″ and weighing around 260 pounds of solid rock, his wrestling background and eagerness to showcase his stand up skills he has picked up from training at ATT make Lashley the one to watch in MMA right now. Flat out, Lashley is the hottest prospect in mixed martial arts today.
Guida is a great opponent for Lashley at this point in his career. He has a ton of experience but isn’t really spectacular in any one area. Hopefully Guida can give Lashley the workout that I know he wants but he won’t be able to. Lashley by whatever he wants, whenever he wants in this one. Not a doubt in my mind.
Jeff Monson vs. Roy Nelson
This fight just doesn’t seem to be getting nearly enough press these days. Both men are extremely dangerous and highly capable fighters with well versed ground games. The difference in this bout should be the stand up, where Nelson will hold a tremendous advantage. Nelson should have the ability to prevent Monson from taking him down and I know for a fact that he will be looking for the knockout. This fight could spell fireworks or it could be a complete snooze fest. It’s one of those. I’m guessing it’s a good old fashioned heavyweight barn burner with Nelson progressing onto bigger and better things in the future.
Some other random fights that deserve mentioning
If everything goes according to plan it’s looking like we could have the return of the Ronin at the inaugural Warrior MMA card. Carlos Newton is slated to return to action after a year and a half hiatus from the game when he faces off with Nabil Khatib on March 28th from Quebec.
Also on March 28th we have M-1 Challenge 13 that will be taking place in Bourgas, Bulgaria. M-1 always puts on great cards and continues to showcase how there is an abundance of talent in MMA located all over the globe. Good fights between good fighters, consistently. A lot of fighters with names that are hard to pronounce but Fedor Emelianenko was pretty hard for me to pronounce a few years back as well.
I know “JT Money” has his share of haters out there but his bout against Chris Camozzi at King of Champions: Shockwave 2009, also on March 28th, is worth noting. Since losing his first and only fight with the UFC to CB Dollaway by way of nasty Peruvian Necktie, Jesse Taylor has racked up three wins with three stoppages in his last three bouts. Most notably, Taylor stopped UFC veteran Drew Fickett by TKO when the two met up last October.