Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Ode to MMA's Mystery Men

They come out of nowhere to headline a local event or appear on some big show undercard. They possess enough raw talent and skill to kick serious ass, and when the dust settles fans are left scratching their heads, wondering where the hell these guys came from. They are MMA's mystery men, and whether they've spent the last few years mixing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai or toiling on the mats in some isolated Russian conclave, they have always been the X-factors of the sport. On this week's "Iron Ring", Northeast mystery man and jiu-jitsu brown belt JoJo Guarin got royally screwed out of a submission win but looked great in process, while sambo specialist Oleg Savitsky will step into the cage to throw down at this Friday's YAMMA event in Atlantic City. And though they might not be carbon copies of the sport's greatest mystery man in BJ Penn (who emerged from the shadows at UFC 31 to dominate and become one of the best), fighters like Guarin and Savitsky - and Billy Craparo, Shannon McGee and countless others - will always be the secret ingredient in MMA's recipe for success.