With a new generation of mixed martial artists making names for themselves in the UFC, some of OC's might not be household names just yet. While more common names such as “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz are still fighting, the prime of their careers has been over for quite some time.
The county, as usual, is a hotbed of talent for rising and current (but not yet mainstream) MMA stars. With many of them scheduled for matches in the coming weeks, here are 10 things to know about their fights.
10. OC's top flyweight, current UFC contender and former Tachi Palace Fights champion Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall, squares off with Brazil's John Lineker this Saturday (January 31) at UFC 183 in Las Vegas, in a fight that will likely send the winner off to face champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson later this year. McCall, who was born in Newport Beach and now trains out of Team Oyama in Irvine, was supposed to face Lineker on a UFC card in Brazil in November, but fell ill after making the 125-pound limit the day before.
9. With a win, McCall would likely get his third bout with Johnson, after pushing the current champion to his limit in the first-ever UFC flyweight fight. The match ended in a controversial majority draw and should have gone to a sudden-victory fourth round, but the overseeing commission miscalculated the judges' scores and accidentally announced Johnson as the victor.
8. McCall, who is very active on Twitter, has a devoted online following called UGCTT, which stands for Underground Creepy Top Team. It could be his handlebar mustache, or it could be his brash honesty when discussing topics such as Johnson being a “boring” champion, but something about Uncle Creepy certainly divides the Internet's masses.
7. Former NCAA wrestling champion Mark Muñoz will take on Brazil's Roan Carneiro when the UFC comes to LA for UFC 184 on February 28. Known as “The Filipino Wrecking Machine,” Muñoz, who fights as a middleweight at 185 pounds, was born in Vallejo, but now trains and coaches out of Lake Forest's Reign Training Center.
6. Muñoz is looking to bounce back from consecutive losses to world-class strikers Gegard Mousasi and Lyoto Machida. Before his two losses, the two-time state champion wrestler was on an 8-2 run in the UFC. Considering that his three recent losses have all come at the hands of current and former champions (Muñoz lost to current UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman in 2012), Muñoz figures to be a heavy favorite heading a bout in his home state against a fighter making his UFC debut.
5. One of Muñoz's teammates at Reign, and a grappling standout on his own, Jake Ellenberger will be fighting Fresno's Josh Koscheck just a short time after Muñoz finishes his bout on February 28. The top UFC 184 welterweight match will see if Ellenberger can recover from his streak of three losses to fighters at the top of his division against a fighter who once challenged for the UFC welterweight title himself.
4. Ellenberger is often one of the fighters analysts use as an example when discussing “complete MMA fighters” due to his ability to excel while both striking and grappling, but it should be noted that the Omaha native doesn't have a single submission victory inside of a UFC octagon despite joining the organization in 2009.
3. On March 14 in Dallas, Yorba Linda's Beneil Dariush will take on dangerous striker Daron Cruickshank as one of the first fights on the UFC 185 card. The lightweight fighter was born in Iran, but now trains out of Kings MMA in Huntington Beach. The 25-year-old currently has a 9-1 record, including a 3-1 mark since entering the UFC just over a year ago.
2. The newest (and OC's only current) UFC champion, Carla Esparza will defend her strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland in the co-main event of UFC 185 on March 14 in Dallas. Esparza is the UFC's first strawweight champion, winning the belt and the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter on December 12 when she submitted Rose Namajunas in the third round of their bout.
1. Before the UFC added a strawweight (115 pounds) division for women, “Cookie Monster” Esparza was the Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight champion. The Team Oyama fighter holds a 10-2 record over her five-year career, with her only two losses coming in Bellator Fighting Championships to current World Series of Fighting champion Jessica Aguilar and renowned grappler Megumi Fujii.
Josh Chesler used to play baseball for some pretty cool teams, but now he just writes about awesome stuff like tattoos, music, MMA and sneakers. He enjoys injuring himself by skateboarding, training for fights, and playing musical instruments in his off time.