Underground Blogger Jack Brown is "The Part-Time Martial Artist," offering a full-time fan's perspective on UFC and major MMA news, developments, or hypotheticals. He earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do a decade ago from Joe Rogan's teenage alma mater Jae H. Kim in Boston, and currently trains at Lauzon MMA.
In his sixth blog, the creates a hypothetical Jackson's MMA vs Blackzilians event.
The end of last month marked the four year anniversary of the demise of the International Fight League (IFL). While the promotion certainly had its difficulties, their concept of team vs. team fight cards was an intriguing and entertaining one. Most agree that MMA is ultimately an individual sport, but fight teams often provide the foundation for what occurs with the two individuals that meet in the cage.
As MMA has evolved and gained popularity in recent years, fans have become more interested in the behind the scenes stories of these fighters and the teams who train with them. This drama often contributes to storylines that sell pay-per-views. One of the best examples of this was the much publicized divide between former teammates Rashad Evans and Jon Jones that ultimately led to their highly anticipated fight at UFC 145 last April. While both fighters were talented and entertaining, and very likely the top two in their division at the time, there is no way the fight would have generated as much interest had the backstory not existed.
It was more than the story of two individuals. It was the story of a team divided. It was a divide that created two teams and forced people to choose sides. So let’s go back to that well, one more time.
Initially, before I even identified these two particular teams, I searched through all the most prominent fight teams’ rosters to try and find enough fighters to design a single, five-fight, main card. This proved to be very problematic for several reasons. First and foremost, fighters often train with several teams and sometimes switch teams altogether. It was hard to find information that was reliable and up to date about each particular fighter’s affiliation. After that, to make the card a plausible one, I had to find teams that had enough active UFC fighters. That eliminated several teams that currently have fighters in major promotions other than the UFC. Then I needed to find teams with active UFC fighters at a variety of weight classes. This eliminated a number of teams like Team Alpha Male. Then it came down to individual match-ups and fights that might make sense in the near future.
Forget about potential injuries because that would mess everything up.
American Kickboxing Academy vs. Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s was a close runner-up, but it didn’t quite fit. So I settled with an obvious one: The Blackzilians, led by Mario Sperry, and fighting out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Delray Beach, Florida, vs. Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s, led by Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, and fighting out of Jackson’s Martial Arts and Fitness Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The card I came up with, and what would need to happen to make each individual fight work, is listed below.
Melvin Guillard (Blackzilians) vs. Clay Guida (Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s) –This would be the pay-per-view, main card, opener. In order for this fight to make sense, Guillard would need to lose to Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s Donald Cerrone at UFC 150 later this week or lose in a fight following that. Then both Guillard and Guida would be coming off a loss. Guillard, who recently left Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s, and Guida have said before, when they were still teammates, that they would be open to fighting. The two veterans’ styles and intensity would make for a perfect fight to open the card. This fight is so good that it could easily be the main event of a Fuel or FX card.
Michael Johnson (Blackzilians) vs. Aaron Riley (Jackson’s Winkeljohn’s) – This is the lowest profile fight of the card, but these are two fighters that most UFC fans know fairly well. Riley is 3-5 in the UFC and is coming off a loss at UFC 135. Johnson is 3-2 in the UFC, coming off a win, and he’ll be fighting Danny Castillo at UFC 151 in September. In order for this fight to make sense, Johnson would need to lose that fight. Both fighters are well rounded, but the younger Johnson would likely be favored.
Eddie Alvarez (Blackzilians) vs. Diego Sanchez (Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s) – Yes, I know I’m cheating here, but I had Sanchez fighting Siyar Bahadurzada in a great welterweight fight until I realized that Sanchez announced within the past few days that he is returning to lightweight. In order for this fight to make sense, Alvarez needs to fulfill his Bellator contract and beat Patricky Freire in October. Sometime after that he’ll be free to sign with the UFC and it’s very likely that he will. The popular veteran, Sanchez, is coming off a loss against Jake Ellenberger, at UFC on Fuel TV 1, last February, but he had two big wins at welterweight prior to that. I’m concerned, based on Sanchez’s recent comments, that he won’t remain a Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s fighter much longer, but this fight would be fascinating and could be the fight of the night. The winner might only have to have one more big win after that before getting a title shot.
Alistair Overeem (Blackzilians) vs. Travis Browne (Jackson’s- Winkeljohn’s) – This is a big one, a true co-main event. In order for this fight to happen, the UFC would need to stick to their plans for the heavyweight championship and have Cain Velasquez fight champ Junior Dos Santos instead of giving Overeem the shot once his suspension ends. The undefeated Browne would also need to keep winning. His next fight is against Antonio Silva, at UFC on FX 5, in October. Overeem and Browne are two giants who would likely be fighting to determine the next number one contender.
Rashad Evans (Blackzilians) vs. Jon Jones (Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s) – Here we go again. Even if the first fight didn’t quite live up to the hype, Evans was the only fighter thus far that took Jones the distance in a five-round, championship fight. Once the fight was over, the former friends didn’t seem to make peace either. And Evans certainly hasn’t made peace with Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s. The growth of the Blackzilians has only served to emphasize the rift. In order for this fight to really make sense, Jones would need to lose to Dan Henderson, at UFC 151, in September. After that, all it would take would be some nasty tweets or quotes and the rematch would be on.
This particular blog was inspired by, and is dedicated to, my good friend, TJ Bonner, who will be deployed to Afghanistan in October.
Get at me with your comments and complaints on Twitter – @jackjohnbrown