Friday, October 31, 2008
Looking to put his days as a drug mule for the Mexican cartel behind him, 145-pound scrapper Leonard Garcia is very focused on his upcoming WEC 36 bout against former UFC champ Jens Pulver - his first bout back since being swept up in a DEA investigation in March. Garcia's arrest and detainment, which kept him on ice for months, left fans wondering if they'd see the man who battled Roger Huerta and Cole Miller in the Octagon ever again. "That's all behind me now," says Garcia, who sometimes regurgitates old cocaine-filled balloons after intense workouts. "I'm an MMA fighter. That's my job. Not ferrying drugs." The November 5th WEC 36 also features a featherweight championship bout between Urijah Faber and Mike Brown and will air live on the Versus cable channel.
Tomorrow night, at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, Sengoku will trudge forward with its sixth event - an event that brings us the final two rounds of its lightweight and middleweight grand prix tournaments, plus some moderately interesting bouts featuring Takanori Gomi, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (yes, the brother of that dude on TUF 8), Jorge Masvidal and Joe Doerksen. Like DREAM, Sengoku is struggling to fill the void Pride FC left behind, and like DREAM, there are some compelling match-ups on deck that could affect fighter rankings worldwide. And sadly, like DREAM, Sengoku will most likely garner the attention of only hardcore fans here in the States. In the past year, Sengoku and DREAM have given studs like Roger Gracie, Eddie Alvarez, Josh Barnett and a ton of others a platform to show the international audience that they're bad, bad men and worthy of respect. It's behooves any true MMA fan to visit sites like http://Sherdog.com and http://www.japan-mma.com/ and check these events out.
Sometimes promising athletes realize their full potential, sometimes they don't. At an Underground Combat League event in December of 2004, 200-pound Bronx native Kaream Ellington clashed with 335-pound wrestling monster Bryan Vetell. It was a true "David vs. Goliath" bout that saw "David" survive almost seven grueling minutes of ground and pound to turn the tables and get the tap out via strikes. The win made the crowd go absolutely berserk, and it seemed to set Ellington's career back on track - a year and a half later the Muay Thai-trained warrior was dodging Kenichi Yamamoto's leglocks at the Mixed Fighting Championship in Atlantic City, then it was off to Costa Rica for BodogFIGHT and off to Japan for a match against a Brazilian. But now it's been two years since Ellington last fought. Will we ever see the talented competitor - who won an IFC tournament in New Jersey back in 2000, fought at seminal Garden State show BAMA FightNight and won a four-man tournament at the first UCL - fight again? With Ellington's personal problems, that's hard to answer. He will, however, always be the man who gutted out a win against "Goliath" to show New York City fight fans what a mixed martial artist was capable of. Realized or unrealized potential notwithstanding, that's something.