At this point in time, it’s difficult to identify an offseason for MMA. There are certainly “down-times,” the months between the big Pay-Per-View events, but even those are living up to their promotional billing as new rivalries emerge and new underdogs beat the odds. But if you still feel some resentment towards those football fans enjoying highlights week after week, rest assured the tables will soon be turned.
UFC 160 airs at the end of the month, a dreadful three weeks away, but each weekend in between now and then has a live televised MMA event that’s worth checking out. The first are the upcoming matchups at MFC 37 featuring the MMA fighters of Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship.
The main event on the fight card for Thursday night’s True Grit competition at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta features the heavyweight title bout between the rising American XFC contender Chris “Beast Boy” Barnett and Canada’s undefeated Smealinho Rama. Barnett has aggressive hands, which have awarded him five TKO/KO victories in his last seven bouts by punches. Rama is undefeated in his six visits to the main stage and he has been able to win half of those by submission, a feat yet to be accomplished by his upcoming opponent.
Relative to UFC, which is currently enjoying its 20th anniversary, Maximum Fighting is still in its infant stages. So far there have been 39 events with 369 matches and there is one more event scheduled for 2013 in October. Thirty-five of those events have enjoyed sellout crowds and the organization has caught the eye of American mega-entrepreneur Mark Cuban. This is due in part to the MFC being the lone Canadian organization with live TV events and the worldwide proliferation of MMA in general.
But there is no doubt cards featuring the kind of headline we will see Thursday in Alberta will not be under the radar for long. The Barnett-Rama matchup features fighters with cross-the-scale talents, Barnett the Tae Kwon Do black belt, former USF football player, Rama the rookie with all first-round victories who took the top heavyweight spot in just 13 months as an MMA fighter.
There’s plenty of MMA excitement between now and the 25th if you know where to look. This week, tune into AXS TV Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern.