BAMMA 8: The road of Joey Villasenor to highway '170'


On December 10th, 2011 Britain's premiere promotion, BAMMA will host BAMMA 8: 'Manuwa vs., Rea' live from the Capital FM arena in Nottingham, England.

In the co-main event two of the most notable names on the card will engage in a welterweight collision. Jim Wallhead (22-6) takes on former King of the Cage middleweight champion Joey Villasenor (28-9). This will be Villasenor's second consecutive fight at 170 pounds.

Wallhead is coming off a split decision win over former UFC veteran Frank Trigg at BAMMA 7. Villasenor is coming off his welterweight debut win over Chuck Parmelee at Jackson's MMA series 6.

'Smokin' Joey Villasenor has not competed in merry ole' England since 2005 where he defended his King of the Cage middleweight strap in fashion when he stopped Damien Riccio at KOTC: 'Warzone'.

Join me after the jump and learn a little more about one of the best fighter's to have not competed (yet) in the Ultimate Fighting Championship

Well before promotions like Strikeforce, BAMMA and DREAM fed the UFC future fighters, King of the Cage was the premiere breeding ground for the UFC or Pride Fighting Championship. Stars like Quinton Jackson, Urijah Faber, Paul Buentello, Mike Kyle all started at a King of the Cage event.

King of the Cage is still around to this day but it's impact is deemed regional with a business model of building around local talent to keep costs down. It's importance in mixed martial arts (MMA) and it's growth should not be ignored.

One it's brightest fighters was Joey Villasenor who was a long reigning middleweight champion. Villasenor has competed on 16 of the promotions events.

Villasenor made his KOTC debut at KOTC 13: 'Resolution' when he fought future UFC fighter Tim Credeur.Villasenor won via submission (strikes) the 3:24 mark of the second round. In fact Villasenor would never lose in the promotion.

While under the KOTC banner, Villasenor went a staggering 16-0 and held the promotions middleweight championship. Villasenor defeated Brian Foster at KOTC: 'San Jacinto' and defended the title seven times for a very impressive run as champion, a run that never 'officially' ended.

While in King of the Cage, 'Smokin' Joe held notable wins over Tim Creduer, Brian Foster, Jorge Santiago and Kyacey Uscola.

In June of 2006, Villasenor traveled to the far east to fight in the PRIDE promotion of Japan. He competed at PRIDE 'Bushido Survval 2006' against veteran Ryo Chonan. You may know Chonan best for his freak submission win over UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Chonan would win a tough split decision over Villasenor and make his debut on a 'big show' a rough start.

Villasenor would return to PRIDE but not having the long plane ride this time around. PRIDE 32 was held in Las Vegas and his opponent was slugger Robbie Lawler. The bout was once again a hard time for Villasenor as he was beat by a highlight flying knee from Lawler at just 32 seconds of round one.

The Jackson product could beat big name competition but for whatever reason the big lights seemed to blind the talented Villasenor. In the sport a fellow fighter mirrored Villasenor in Montreal-born fighter, David Loiseau.

'The Crow' was a former number one contender who was dominated for all of one round when Rich Franklin beat him up at UFC 58. Before Georges St.Pierre was the big star from the 'Great North there was Loiseau. The two men faced under the Garry Shaw led EliteXC.

At EliteXC: 'Destiny' Villasenor would best Loiseau when he won a hard fought three-round fight. Villasenor earned a unanimous decision and earn an EliteXC middleweight shot.

At UFC 126 we saw Villasenor's teammate Jon Jones become the UFC light heavyweight champion when he beat Mauricio Rua. The first Jackson's member to fight a Rua was Villasenor who would face the oldest Rua, Murilo at Strikeforce: 'Shamrock vs. Baroni'.

It was a standing war that lasted only two rounds as Murilo stopped Villasenor via TKO (strikes) to win the EliteXC middleweight championship.

'Smokin' Joey Villasenor would come back

Villasenor would get back to his winning ways best shown during his KOTCdays. Hen posted a 4-0 record with wins over Rikki Fukuda, Ryan Jensen, Phil Baroni and Evangelista Santos. It was like ole times for Villasenor who still hadn't gotten his UFC shot.

When it rains it pours

Villasenor would face his toughest test in some time when fought former Strikeforce middleweight champion and ju jitsu wizard, Ronaldo Souza at Strikeforce: 'Heavy Artillery'. Villasenor fought valiantly against the bigger Souza who was too much as he lost a decision.

Villasenor would move down to regional promotion, Shark Fights located in the southwest. Villasenor was to face UFC vet Drew McFedries but an injury forced McFedries out of the bout. Instead Villasenor faced American Top Team product Danillo Villefort who is the son of famous Vale Tudo fighter Francisco Silva.

Villasenor couldn't handle Villefort who would earn a decision victory of Villasenor. Villasenor would lose another tough one to Chris Camozzi at Shark Fights 15: 'Villasenor vs. Camozzi'. In a weird twist a split draw was overturned to a split decision win for Camozzi when a judges scoring card was added incorrectly.

Take the plunge

It is common in MMA for fighters to drop weight like collegiate wrestlers vying to be bigger or quicker at a lighter weight. Villasenor like teammate Marquardt dropped from middleweight to welterweight ahead of his next fight.

Villasenor made his welterweight debut at Jackson's MMA Series 6 when he faced Chuck Parmelle. It seemed to work as Villasenor earned his first win in four fights and his first stoppage since 2008. Villasenor may have revitalized his career and takes another step.

At BAMMA 8 (Dec.10) Villasenor takes on Jim Wallhead in the co-featured bout of the evening. Wallhead is coming of a split decision win over Frank Trigg at BAMMA 7. At 27 years of age this would be one of the biggest 'step ups' in level of competition for Wallhead.

Villasenor has faced all sorts of fighters and one's much better then Wallhead. At the end of the day Villasenor is 36 years of age and is facing a young and hungry fighter who's 27. The days for Villasenor getting his call to the UFC are winding down but a win over Wallhead could give him that chance.

Would never fighting in the UFC hurt Villasenor?

I cannot say as i am not Villasenor but as a fan of his fights and him as a role model i say no. He has put on exciting fights and never took an 'easy' fight. His reign in KOTC was very impressive as he held the title and never lost.

I know lost of fans will see it as just the KOTC middleweight champion but defending a title against the fighters he faced is not an easy feat. As the sport grows and new fighters emerge everyday holding onto your strap becomes much, much harder.

To earn and work your way up is easy because you don't ahve that belt on you mantle. To maintain that belt there gets harder as many champions 'coast' and rest upon past laurels. We've seen fighters like BJ Penn stay at the same camp and do not grow.

I think it says it best in fellow maniac's unambig's piece 'Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua proves that winning isn't everything' that it isn't always about winning. Yes, winning is very important but soimetimes being exciting and being a good role model should count a lot too.

Sure, David Loiseau never beat Rich Franklin but who do you admire more or wnat to see? Louiseau or Kalib Starnes?.

In the end and after the final horn, Joey Villasenor may finally get his chance under the big lights and follow his more high profile teammates at Jackson's MMA. It would be fun to see the old dog get his bone, at least for one night.

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