Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fi ghters on the verge of making it to the next level. MMAWeekly.com takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.
Name: Brian Cobb Professional Record: 13 – 4 Class: Lightweight Notable Wins: Diego Saraiva, Kenichiro Togashi and David Gardner
Fighting out of agriculture-rich Bakersfi eld in Northern California, wrestler Brian Cobb has quietly put together an impressive record of 13-4 and become a champion in several organizations. He has slowly dominated the local California scene in King of the Cage, Gladiator Challenge and the Palace Fighting Championships. He has even traveled to Japan to compete in the Cage Force lightweight tournament, doing rather well against Eiji Mitsuoka before going down in defeat.
Since losing to Mitsuoka, Cobb has gone on an impressive run of fi ghts, winning seven straight and claiming two different lightweight championships in the process. His fi rst belt came at the expense of Shawn Bias, whom Cobb submitted to win the vacant Gladiator Challenge lightweight title.
The biggest opportunity was yet to come as he was given the chance to fi ght respected Japanese grappler Kenichiro Togashi at the fi rst Shooto card in California. Throughout the fi ght, Cobb was able to control both on the feet and on the ground, battering Togashi with strikes and eventually stopping him in the fi nal round.
The next step would be a trip to the central valley and a chance to become the Palace Fighting Championships lightweight champion as he faced off with UFC veteran Diego Saraiva. Once again, Cobb surprised many as he dominated Saraiva on the ground, grinding out a decision and becoming the new lightweight champion, gaining a new fan base in the process.
In his latest fi ght, Cobb took on Team Quest lightweight David Gardner at Palace Fighting Championships 10. Cobb controlled the fi ght on the ground with strikes and threatened with submission attempts the entire fi ght. After fi ve rounds, Cobb won an impressive decision over the veteran.
It’s only going to be a matter of time before Cobb is given a chance to shine in one of the bigger organizations like , Strikeforce, WEC, or the UFC. Once he is given that chance, expect big things from Cobb, who may surprise many fans unaware of his talents.
Name: Tito Jones Professional Record: 5 – 2 Notable Wins: Austin Pascucci and Hussein Rousali
Anew trend in MMA is starting to occur with the rising popularity in the sport. Many accomplished amateur boxers are forgoing lucrative careers in boxing to become MMA fi ghters. One of the brighter amateur boxers making his mark in MMA is Tito Jones, fi ghting out of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California.
Jones began wrestling while in high school and trained in various traditional martial arts before fi nally settling in as an amateur boxer. Under the tutelage of respected trainer Roy Jones Sr., Jones became a two-time Golden Gloves champion in northern Florida, even getting a chance to train with famed boxer Roy Jones Jr. He then had to make a tough decision: either continue his lucrative career as a boxer or pursue one of his dreams and become a mixed martial artist.
Jones decided to become a mixed martial artist. So he packed all his things into his pick-up truck and drove across the country to Arizona to train with Arizona Combat Sports. After fi nding success there, a chance meeting with Urijah Faber in Las Vegas made him reevaluate his career. He then packed up his things again and moved to California to train with Faber.
Since making the move, Jones has debuted in the Palace Fighting Championships, going 2-1 with his one loss being a controversial decision loss to Chuck Liddell-trained Casey Olsen. “I love to get in there and fi ght, just to excite the crowd,” Jones said regarding fi ghting in MMA. “I want to make some serious noise and become a champion one day.”
Training with Urijah Faber, Jones believes, will take him far in MMA. “It’s the best training in the world, top notch, and nothing compares to it. Training here is not like training. It’s a way of life.”
Name: Justin Buchholz Professional Record: 8 – 2 Notable Wins: Corey Hill and Ikaika Choy-Fu
Alaska isn’t known as a breeding ground for MMA fi ghters, but that’s quickly changing as several Alaskan fi ghters have made their way into the UFC. Leading the way is lightweight Justin Buchholz.
In the world of MMA, where each fi ghter has some kind of solid background in fi ghting, Buchholz is a different type of fi ghter having worked from the ground up to be where he is now in the UFC. Instead of wrestling for his high school, Buchholz spent his high school years being the fi rst chair in the jazz band.
He made his MMA debut several years later without much prior training, except for some boxing classes and several hundred hours of watching UFC tapes. After fi nding success in his native Alaska in the Alaska Fighting Championships, Buchholz moved to Hawaii seeking out better training and more exposure.
After fi nishing his fi rst two fi ghts in ICON Sport in less then 90 seconds, he was given the chance to fi ght for a title. He took full advantage, winning the belt in 31 seconds and then going back to Alaska to take a break. When he needed some extra money, Buchholz began working in Alaska. And that’s when he got the call to fi ght for EliteXC in his adopted home of Hawaii.
With the UFC on his radar, Buchholz was scheduled to fi ght longtime Hawaiian brawler Kolo Koka with a possible shot to get into the UFC with an impressive victory. An injury forced Koka out of the fi ght, and Buchholz would go on to stop replacement Ikaika Choy- Fu with strikes fairly early into the opening round, gaining him entry into the UFC.
Upon entering the UFC, Buchholz had never gone past the fi rst round. That made him all that more attractive as he made his debut against Matt Wiman at UFC Fight Night 12. Before making his debut, Buchholz realized he needed a better training regimen and began training with WEC featherweight Urijah Faber. “He’s one of the most well-rounded fi ghters in the world, and that helps the rest of us,” Buchholz said.
Unfortunately for Buchholz, he didn’t make his UFC debut on the best of terms as he entered his fi ght with a 103-degree fever, eventually being submitted by Wiman in the fi rst round after a short explosive fi ght. Buchholz was given another chance at UFC 86, being put against highly touted lightweight Corey Hill. After some shaky moments, Buchholz came on strong in the second round with strikes and took advantage of mistakes on the ground by Hill, reversing and submitting him with a rear naked choke to get his fi rst win in the UFC.
“I want to go as far as I can and beat everyone in the world,” Buchholz said regarding his goals in the UFC. “I want to get some exposure for Alaska and do well.”