Originally from Venezuela, Maximo Blanco (8-4-1) was a stand out wrestler in high school and earned himself a scholarship at a Japanese University in Fukuoka spending many of his early years growing up in Japan. Fighting out of the Yoshida Dojo; in 2008 he debuted for Pancrase and went on to become the Lightweight King of Pancrase after brutally knocking out Katsuya Inoue for the belt. In 2009 he gained great exposure worldwide with his fights in top Japanese organisation Sengoku, where fans got to see his brutal style and crushing knock outs, over the likes of Rodridgo Damn, Akihiko Mori, Chang Hyun Kim and Kiuma Kunioku. In 2011 after Sengoku went out of business he signed with Strikeforce and had an exciting back and forth fight with Pat Healy which he sadly lost to a bigger fighter. Realising this Maxi dropped down a weight class to featherweight and was signed by the UFC. Maximo Blanco is a really exciting and crazy fighter to watch. He goes for the finish and has a natural killer instinct inside the cage. I can’t wait for him to return to the octagon in 2013.
Brazilian Top Team fighter Pedro Nobre (14-1-0) hails from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and fights at 135 lbs. Training alongside Murilo Bustamente, Rousimar Palhares and Milton Veira. An aggressive stand up and ground fighter he began his career in 2008 racking up 9 wins via Knock out and 4 by submission. He’s a really exciting prospect to watch in the division.
Tarec Saffiedine (14-3-0) from Brussels Belgium fights under Team Quest in Temecula. This video showcases his journey from his start in Belgium all the way to the Strikeforce world title. In 2008 Tarec moved from his homeland to train alongside Dan Henderson in California. He went 6-1 before signing to DREAM for 2 appearances and then in 2009 for Strikeforce where he defeated Scott Smith, Tyler Stinson and Roger Bowling to earn a title shot at champion Nate Marquardt. Despite beginning the heavy underdog, Tarec rose to occasion and dominated the fight winning the Strikeforce belt. Tarec is a really good technical fighter he has excellent stand up from his Karate background and working alongside Dan Henderson you see he has amazing clinch skills and defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing. In 2013 it will be really exciting to see how he does in the UFC.
Ivan Menjivar (25-9-0) who is Salvadorian but lives in Canada training at the Tri Star Gym in Qubec is a long time veteran of the sport and has literally fought the who’s who of MMA from 135lbs to 170lbs all over the world. For many years Ivan was fighting way above his natural weight class at a time when there were no lower weight classes availiable. He’s fought great fighters such as Caol Uno, Joe Lauzon, Urijah Faber, Matt Serra, Vitor Shaolin and Georges St. Pierre. Ivan Menijivar is extremly well rounded with his aggressive stand up game and spinning back kicks/ punches. Ivan’s ground game is wicked, a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu he holds 10 wins via submission to his credit. Ivan is a really exciting fighter and it’s nice to see him finally fighting opponents his size. The UFC’s 135lb has not been around for a long time and it’s going to be exciting to see Ivan work his way through the ranks and possibly contend for the belt in an exciting fight vs Champion Renan Barao.
Sound Track - Braille. Blessed Man
Brazilian featherweight Diego “The Gun” Nunes (18-2-0) is an exciting Muay Thai fighter who integrates amazing spinning back kicks and punches into a well rounded game. Born in Rio Grande do Sul, Diego Nunes began training Muay Thai. At the age of 20 he left home traveling to the best schools in Brazil and live his dream of becoming a professional fighter. This Nova Uniao prospect first 11 fights ended quickly by Knockout or submission, which led him into the Zuffa owned WEC, who established the 145lbs featherweight division within the United States. Diego went 4-1 with notable wins over Raphael Assuncao, Rafael Dias and Tyler Toner before the WEC was merged into the UFC, where he debuted against former Featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown defeating him by decision. With a win over the former champion Diego was given Kenny Florian at UFC 131. Despite dropping Florian in the first and third rounds he unfortunately lost a close decision. With amazing kicks and a solid ground game Diego Nunes is one of the most exciting fighters within the UFC.