Brad’s Friday Fight Bodega – Maximo Blanco
This weekend kick starts a huge run in MMA which will see 4 UFC events, 2 Strikeforce shows, 4 Bellator cards and 1 DREAM offering over the next month. That’s not even taking into account the numerous cards being put on by the likes of BAMMA, Shark Fights, Maximum Fighting Championships, and Titan Fighting Championships among others.
With everything that is going on this weekend alone, I found it difficult to single out a particular fighter (nevermind a specific fight) to showcase for you this week. In the end, it came down to three of MMA’s brightest prospects. Douglas Lima has shown a fantastic MMA-adapted submission game, as well as developing striking arsenal. He will be making his Bellator debut against Steve Carl tomorrow night. Yoel Romero breaks so many of my rules about MMA that it’s ridiculous. Romero isn’t your typical MMA neophyte though. An Olympic freestyle silver medalist and world champion, Romero brings a pedigree matched by few in the sport. He also brings the perfect style of wrestling to translate to MMA, as he is both athletic and explosive (or is it explosively athletic?). Added to that, Romero’s brother is a former world champion boxer, and he has been boxing nearly his entire life to boot. The only thing that gives me paused about Romero is that he is already 34 years old, and defected to Germany, where the caliber of MMA gyms is hardly what he could find in North America.
However with all due respect to Lima and Romero, I could not pass up this opportunity to highlight the ultra violence that is Maximo Blanco, in light of his first North American fight taking place on Strikeforce’s HWGP Undercard. Blanco himself is a supremely talented wrestler, placing third at the 2007 Pan-Am games. Unlike the majority of wrestling converts to make the transition to MMA, Blanco has not been shy about going into the ring with the intention of decimating his opponents with whatever means he has available to him (legal or otherwise). That attitude is part of what has quickly made Maxi one of the most enjoyable fighters to watch in MMA’s current climate:
Exhibit 1: When slamming your opponent on the back of his head doesn’t work, why not slam it on the side? As Blanco does in his second pro fight against Hiroki Aoki.
Exhibit 2: Using Stomps to not only defend an armbar, but knock his opponent out at the same time. Poor Seigo Inoue. – 0:35 of video.
It has also gotten him into trouble, like in his DQ loss to Akihiko Mori. However continue watching the video, and you tell me if the Soccer Kick at 1:11 is a punishable offence, or just plain awesome. The video also includes Maxi’s wins over Katsuya Inoue (in which he captured the LW King of Pancrase), and a devastating head kick, face blasting combination to melt Chang Hyun Kim in the corner. The full version of the fight can be found below:
More recently, Blanco has beaten one-time Strikeforce LW Contender Rodrigo Damm by KO, and taken a decision over Won Sik Park this past December. One of my concerns with Blanco heading into this fight, other than his opponent Pat Healy, is the 9-month layoff between fights is by far the longest in his career. Some fighters can make huge leaps in that time, while some stagnate without staying active.
The other concern, as mentioned, is Pat Healy, Blanco’s extremely experienced opponent, who has wins over the likes of Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, and Carlos Condit dating back to 2004. Healy has been doing this for a very long time, and has beaten guys who have turned into great fighters. I’m not saying that Blanco will come out and destroy Healy in the first round, or that he’ll win at all (while I do expect him to), but just that Maximo Blanco is here, and you should probably pay attention, as chances are it will be fun.