No intro this week. Just an overhand right to the cranium. This Saturday marks his fifth official entrance into the famed Octagon. Matt Wiman moved to Tulsa at the age of six. "I lived there on and off until I was 20. I moved away for years at a time but always came back," said the well-regarded UFC lightweight fighter with a 9-3 record.
At UFC 85: Bedlam, he takes on the dangerous Brazilian Thiago Tavares. The compelling match up is not slated for the main card. However, if history is a solid indicator, the UFC manages to include more fights than advertised on its Pay-Per-View.
"This is an interesting fight. I try to be as well-rounded as possible. This guy is pretty well-rounded too. I can see," Wiman calculated for a second, "obviously I'm going to win this fight." It's a bizarre, underspoken, yet confident tone.
Is he looking for the knockout or the submission? "If I get a submission I'm going to take it. I could catch him at anytime and knock him out.
"I had kind of a dream I might knock him out with a left hook. Sometimes I think I'll submit him. If he's tough, he might last 15 minutes. I just see my hand being raised."
Some may remember Wiman from his stint on The Ultimate Fighter reality series. Others may recall bumping into him at Broken Arrow High School back in the day. MMA enthusiasts know he's a tough-as-nuts fighter ready to climb the stacked division.
He started his training at Mikey's Gym.
Yes, Tulsa's first MMA combatant Mikey Burnett had his hand in another warrior's infantile stages in the sport.
He entered an eight-man tournament (EK 13 -- Elimination) with only one year of formal training. His gym and teammates were against the idea at first. They supported him once he threw his name and body into the ring. He won three fights in one night and captured belt. He hasn't looked back since.
"I realized I had potential and could make money. I loved the sport so much. I always told myself I would take it as far as I could. I felt like God had a hand in it. It was a route I was supposed to be taking. It's a very interesting and very fulfilling job," he said.
His career highlight hasn't happened yet. It's always his next fight. The next victory. The lowlight is the "highlight reel" flying knee loss to Spencer Fisher at UFC 60.
"I took (the fight) on eight days notice. I had to lose 25 pounds for the fight. I hadn't been training for months. The UFC called me and I had to take (the fight) because that was my dream. I killed him in the first round," Wiman said.
Wiman's reputation grabbed the UFC's attention. He was known by promoters for his ability to take fights on short notice and deliver high-level action.
He's not looking past Tavares, but perhaps just peeking around him. Wiman once took UFC poster boy Roger Huerta to a decision outside of the octagon.
"It was kind of a political decision. Some people think he won but the majority of the people think I won that fight," he said of the questionable decision. Yes, the video lingers on the internet.
"There's no excuses. I can train properly for these fights. I know who I'm fighting and at what weight class. It's awesome nowadays," he said.
Fast forward. He's fighting in London this Saturday night. He's never left the United States. Not a border jump to Mexico or Canada. "This will be a fun experience for me."
He thinks this past EliteXC card on CBS was a step in the right direction. More organizations mean more negotiating power for fighters. Although, like many MMA purist, he's not sure this card was the ideal foray into network television. Here is the backhanded complement of the week.
"When people watch TV and see these B-Level fighters it looks less professional or enjoyable or exciting. The UFC has the top-level guys fighting on TV. Then you watch EliteXC and it's a sloppy retarded sister.
"I don't want people getting the wrong idea of professional fighting. It's a long hard road and you have to be good at everything or you're not going to be at the top level. These guys are (on) TV and they are not 'A level'. It kind of upsets me. Ultimately it does help us having competitors," said Wiman.
He's on fight five of a nine fight contract. He'd try his kicking leg in the NFL if MMA wasn't a viable option. Or perhaps become a mountain man.
His nickname "Handsome" started as a joke. He decided to roll with it after a ring announcer in Tulsa tried several monikers that simply didn't stick such as Wildman and Cowboy.
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