English welterweight Jim Wallhead may just be the unluckiest man in mixed martial arts.
This week he missed out on his opportunity to compete in the Bellator tournament as he was unable to fly to the US. due to the recent volcano in Iceland.
It is the latest in a long line of misfortunes that Wallhead, who holds a professional MMA record of 18-5, has had to endure.
In 2006, he won the Road to Japan tournament in Holland as a middleweight, despite being a natural welterweight and taking the fight on very late notice. The winner was guaranteed a place in Pride FC but Wallhead's ambitions were effectively sabotaged when the Japanese organization folded shortly after.
Then, in 2007, he was set to sign a contract with IFL but the organization folded. A deal with Bodog also failed to materialize after that organization also folded. Wallhead then got through to the final stages of TUF 9 but was only made an alternate and never got to appear on the show.
Wallhead, who has a judo background, is currently the No. 5 ranked welterweight in the UK. He is ahead of Paul Taylor and Nick Osipczak, who are both on the current UFC roster. Wallhead is riding a six-fight win streak, the last of which came against TUF veteran Che Mills.
In 2006, Wallhead defeated Jason Tan in a decision win in Tan’s hometown of Liverpool.
Despite this win it was Tan, not Wallhead, who received an offer from the UFC, and his very next fight was against Marcus Davis at UFC 72. To date, both of Tan’s UFC outings have ended in defeat just as his fight with Wallhead did.
The UFC seems intent on signing up the best British talent available yet Wallhead continues to be overlooked. He has seen fellow British welterweights and Rough House teammates Dan Hardy and Paul Daley prosper inside the UFC but, aged 26, Wallhead must be wondering whether his opportunity will ever arrive.
Wallhead has done more than most to earn his shot in a major MMA organization but consistently fate seems to conspire against him. This week Wallhead is once again left bemoaning his misfortune and British fight fans are asking themselves, "Can Judo Jim ever catch a break?"