Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Jeff Monson (40-11) returns to mixed martial arts (MMA) action tonight (April 1, 2011) when he throws leather with Tony Lopez (23-5) at "Fight Time 4" in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The winner of this fracas in the "Sunshine State" will be crowned the new ISKA heavyweight champion.
Monson tells MMAmania.com that title fight or not, he's ready to lay it all on the line.
"I wouldn't say there's extra pressure. You go into every fight to win or at least I do. Of course I would love to hold the world heavyweight title and feel that at the end of the night that will be the case."
Top ranked fighters like UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre usually take two fights a year, but this will be Monson's ninth fight since April 2010. While "The Snowman" admits he would like to take a breather, he has more people to support than just himself.
"I honestly don't like to fight this much and would prefer to only fight every 60 days or so; however, the opportunities have presented themselves and I've had to take them. When you're fighting in the local and regional shows they don't pay as much as the UFC or Strikeforce. I have a wife and kids and I have to make a living so unfortunately I have to fight more often."
Perhaps a big win over Lopez will give Monson the break he's looking for.
At the age of 40, Monson is still a threat in the 265-pound division. His last five opponents have all suffered defeat via submission. "The Snowman" says he just has a burning desire to compete.
"I have it in me to compete. When I'm not competing I just feel this need to be in a cage. It's in my blood. My training and experience are what have allowed me to continue doing it for so long but at the end of the day I have this intense competitive drive."
Despite the number of top heavyweights he's faced (and defeated), Monson still doesn't think he's found the level of recognition he deserves. Monson hopes his new management team puts an end to that.
"I have more fights and victories over great fighters than some other people that are a lot more well known. But I have a new management team and we are restructuring how I'm managed and handling my career so hopefully the recognition of the past will not dictate my recognition in the future."
Monson was once a top UFC heavyweight going 4-3 with the promotion. After failing to capture the heavyweight title from Tim Sylvia in 2006, "The Snowman" left the organization and never returned.
Monson says he would like to return to the UFC and would even consider moving down in weight to do so.
"That's my hope. I left the UFC on great terms and have a really good relationship with them. My management team and I are discussing various options for my career including dropping down to light heavyweight after my next two scheduled heavyweight fights. We both feel that making the drop would make me one of the top contenders in that category and be my best option for being truly competitive in a top MMA promotion."
If Monson were to sign with the UFC and stay at heavyweight, he believes he can give current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez a run for his money.
"[When asked what challenges he'd pose to Cain Velasquez] Definitely my submission game. We haven't seen Cain Velasquez on his back yet. I know I could put him there."
But he has to first get through Lopez before he can think about any of that.
Statistics suggest that "Kryptonite" and "The Snowman" may get into a chess match when their fight hits the ground. After all, both men have 38 submission wins combined.
The two-time ADCC open weight champion; however, says Lopez doesn't stand a chance when the action gets to the mat.
"I think the Lopez fight is an easy strategy. I have to get inside, period. If I do that I'll win this fight. He has a huge height and reach advantage over me so I have to get inside to win this. On the ground I think I would dominate him based on my experience. When I've fought guys like him before and didn't get inside I lost the fight. In reviewing the fight footage, etc., I know what I have to do to win this."
Tonight, Monson will be making his 52nd professional appearance. "The Snowman" says he'll do anything to keep competing in the sport he loves.
Even if that means fighting Mother Nature.
"I'll compete until my body doesn't let me compete anymore. Obviously I can't do this forever, but I'm sure going to try."
Monson took the time to thank his sponsors and those who have supported him.
"I would like to thank my wife and supportive family, JM Lexus for their generous sponsorship of me for this fight, GX Supplements, my Management Team ML Management. Tina and Ray, La Parilla, Mobink, Fight Time Promotions, ATT Coconut Creek, IHP, and my dedicated coaching team."