The Best MMA Fighters From... | Pt. 1: Massachusetts
When the spotlight hits, and the lights shine on certain fighters, they shine. Others simply don't. Every city, state, commonwealth, and country has them. But what does your area have to offer?
I am conducting a series based on the best fighters from certain areas over the next few weeks. Please note that the fighters I am mentioning do not have to be born/living in that area, but may also be training (i.e. Rashad Evans isn't from New Mexico, but may be included in that section because of his training there).
As a part of this, I welcome any feedback and/or requests for areas, so long as there is more than one prominent fighter from the area. Examples of good areas might be Iowa, California, etc... Bad examples include Utah, and Rhode Island.
Not to say these areas don't have good fighters, but they just doesn't suit this series.
I will profile the three best fighters from each area, and give as much background information available for them as possible. Feedback will be very much appreciated.
Massachusetts: Kenny Florian
Yeah, I know...it's me and Kenny, but give me a break here.
When you say MMA and Massachusetts in the same sentence, Kenny Florian's name is a must. Whether it's talking about his academy based out of Somerville, or his high class stature in the UFC's Lightweight division, Florian is Massachusetts most prominent, exciting fighter that's hit the big time.
Florian started his UFC career from the hit show "The Ultimate Fighter" and has been ever-improving since the show. Florian's last loss was three years ago to former UFC Lightweight champion Sean Sherk, and is now next in line to receive a shot at BJ Penn's Lightweight title.
Whether Florian wins or loses the bout, his prominence in the UFC is unquestioned, as is his skills, and love for the sport. Florian has a long future in the sport, and should hold a title at some point in his career, if not sooner rather than later.
Massachusetts: Joe Lauzon
I really don't know how this other kid keeps creeping into these pictures, but whatever (snicker).
Lauzon is, in many ways, similar to Florian, as he too put in time and effort towards becoming a UFC fighter through his hard work on "The Ultimate Fighter" series.
Under the tutelage of UFC legend BJ Penn, Lauzon blossomed into a complete fighter, and has proven it since his time on the show, with wins over Jeremy Stephens and Kyle Bradley.
Prior to his time on TUF, Lauzon hit the jackpot by shocking the MMA world with a win over another UFC legend, Jens Pulver.
Lauzon also spends time training in his gym based in Bridgewater, and trains with Team Aggression and his brother, Dan Lauzon.
So long as Lauzon's recent injury heals okay, he should be back to fighting and blazing a trail through the UFC Lightweight division once again, possibly en route to a title shot down the road.
Massachusetts: Gabriel Gonzaga
Gabriel Gonzaga, at one point, was the most recognized, important UFC fighter based out of Massachusetts.
Gonzaga not only garnered himself a reputation that left fans and MMA viewers alike cringing after his brutal knockout victory over MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop, but he also gained himself a shot at the UFC Heavyweight championship at UFC 74 against another MMA legend in Randy Couture.
Though losing the bout, Gonzaga represented both Massachusetts and himself with much pride and dignity, and was the first major Massachusetts native to gain a title shot in any division.
With a recent loss to Heavyweight monster Shane Carwin, Gonzaga needs to go back to the drawing board in Ludlow under Team Link if he wants to get back on the road to another title shot.
Next Edition: New Mexico
The next edition of Best MMA Fighters From...will be mainly surrounded around Greg Jackson's phenomenal camp out of New Mexico, and will be sure to include some corny joke about the swine flu, even though it originated from Mexico, not New Mexico.