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 fighters 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.
Fighting out of Sacramento, Calif, Danny Castillo has turned a fateful last-minute opportunity into a full-time living, all within the last year in the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Lightweight division. The then-undefeated Castillo took a last-minute fight with rising Lightweight star Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at WEC 34 in his hometown of Sacramento. Although he was handed his first career loss, he was given the opportunity to fight on a bigger stage after fighting exclusively for local shows during his entire career.
Castillo got a chance for redemption as he was tapped to face off with eccentric karate fighter Ed Ratcliff at WEC 36, but an injury forced a last-minute change. He now faced ground specialist Rafael Dias. Castillo was able to survive Dias’s submission attempts all throughout the fight. It paid off as he rocked Dias with a solid combination, pounced on him, and finished the fight with strikes, getting his first win in the WEC.
He next faced off with highly touted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Lightweight Phil Cardella at WEC 39. It was a back-and-forth affair. Castillo dominated the fight on his feet with crisp boxing combinations. Cardella felt the effects of the punishment, but threw submissions left and right, which made the fight all that much closer. When it was all said and done, Castillo was awarded a hard-earned split decision.
In what was considered a pivotal fight for the Lightweight division, Castillo faced off with undefeated Ricardo Llamas at WEC 42. Without a clear contender in the WEC Lightweight division, the winner of this fight could very well become a front-runner for a shot at the WEC Lightweight title.
Llamas looked to have frustrated Castillo for much of the fight as he used angles and kicks to evade Castillo’s attacks. Castillo stayed strong and continued with his strategy, and it paid off as he landed a big right hand that dropped Lamas. In an instant, he jumped all over Llamas and finished him off with strikes. Now, Castillo is poised to get a shot at the WEC Lightweight title after winning three fights in a row in impressive fashion.
After finding success in the world of kickboxing, Scott Lighty decided that it was time for a new challenge. That’s when he made the transition to mixed martial arts. Lighty was a regular on the K-1 circuit, coming close on several occasions to making it into the K-1 World Grand Prix, but he finally decided it was time to move on.
Lighty started his mixed martial arts career in early 2008, fighting in local shows around Central California and honing his skills at The Pit with John Hackleman.
Lighty was featured on the second season of Tapout along with close friend Glover Teixeira as he prepared to make his mixed martial arts debut. At the end of the show, Lighty did so and faced off with Derek Thornton. He toyed with Thornton, who was clearly outclassed on the feet and had to quit after receiving too many punishing low kicks.
Lighty continued on with his career, posting a 3-0 record in mixed martial arts before getting a chance to fight for EliteXC in autumn 2008.
He faced fellow undefeated fighter Jamiah Williamson on the event’s undercard. Lighty was ahead of Williamson the entire fight, both on the feet and on the ground. Landing crisp boxing combinations and devastating kicks, Lighty was able to slowly break Williamson. The referee finally put an end to the beating, giving Lighty his fourth win in mixed martial arts.
Although he got a chance to fight for EliteXC, his opportunity was short-lived as the promotion folded shortly after Lighty’s fight.
After finding his career in limbo for a spell, Lighty finally returned to the cage in Strikeforce. He took on veteran fighter Mike Cook, who had found some success as a Light-Heavyweight after being outsized as a Heavyweight. The fight was never even close, as Lighty showed why he is one of the better prospects in mixed martial arts today by simply making Cook like an amateur. Lighty landed an array of strikes, but it was a devastating punch to the body that finally made Cook quit.
In a thin Light-Heavyweight division, Lighty could very well be only a fight or two away from getting a shot at the Strikeforce Light- Heavyweight championship.
After tearing up the Brazilian mixed martial arts scene, Willamy Chiquerim has finally gotten a new chance to display his skills as a fighter in front of a bigger audience in Shooto. Chiquerim had gained an impressive reputation in Brazil as a slick submission fighter,with a vast arsenal of finishing holds. Although he favors submissions as his method of finishing opponents, Chiquerim is also known as a great striker. Even with an impressive record of 13-1, he hasn’t had much of a chance to display his ability outside of Brazil.
His first big break was in April of 2008 when he faced off with Giovani Diaz for the vacant Shooto Brazil Lightweight title. The two started out with a bit of a feelingout process, but that soon went out the window as they punished each other with brutal shots. During the exchange, Chiquerim landed a left hook that put Diaz down and out of the fight. The win notched Chiquerimas the first-ever Shooto Brazil Lightweight champion.
He then went on to defend his title two times, finishing both his opponents with a barbaro choke in the first round. On both occasions, Chiquerim locked on the submission out of nowhere and in an awkward position, making those victories all the more impressive, proving he can end the fight from all most any position.
His next fight was the biggest of his career, fighting for Shooto in Japan on its 20th anniversary show. He fought Yusuke Endo, one of Shooto’s best Lightweights and former Shooto Rookie Champion.
Chiquerim wasted no time as he frustrated Endo for much of the fight. He took Endo to the ground and controlled position while threatening with submissions from numerous angles. Endo did well to defend the submissions, but like all of Chiquerim’s past opponents, he eventually succumbed. Chiquerim caught Endo in a guillotine choke that forced him to tap just as the bell to the round sounded.
Chiquerimnow looks to move on to a bigger promotion after posting up some impressive results over the last 2 years.