It's not often that mixed martial arts (MMA) fans witness a major prospect burst into a major Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) main card so quickly, but that's exactly what happened with 23-year-old Canadian Welterweight sensation Jordan Mein.
Most might remember his recent first round knockout of Dan Miller at UFC 158 just last month. A now "Young Gun" is set to make a quick turnaround, accepting a short-notice 170-pound showdown against Matt Brown that will serve as the UFC on Fox 7 main card opener later this evening (Sat., April 20, 2013) from HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
In 2006, a young Mein made his professional MMA debut at Rumble In The Cage 17, losing via first round submission to another notable (and now very familiar) Canadian upstart, Rory MacDonald. Mein would go on to compile a less than average record (3-4) by mid-2007 before going on a five-fight win streak -- all in that same year -- that included four finishes.
His skills still developing, Mein would go on to lose only three of 17 bouts leading up to his Strikeforce debut, which is when he truly started to emerge as a promising prospect. Mein met veteran Evangelista Santos in that bout, winning via third-round stoppage thanks to some downright vicious elbows against the cage.
At this point, Mein was a hot topic of conversation among die hard MMA fans because his youth, experience and finishing ability made him a very bright talent. Indeed, at only 21 years old, Mein had already defeated battle-tested veterans such as Joe Riggs, Josh Burkman and Marius Zaromskis, among others, proving that he was a force to be reckoned with at 170-pounds.
Mein would eventually suffer a setback at the hands of Tyron Woodley, even though the split decision defeat in his second Strikeforce appearance was far from a rout. In fact, the decision was considered controversial because Mein -- who was unable to keep the wrestling-minded Woodley from gaining top position -- was threatening and damaging enough for many people to feel he deserved the nod.
He followed this disheartening loss up with a two-fight win streak, including a unanimous decision victory over Tyler Stinson and a first round stoppage of Forrest Petz.
His success and potential earned him an invitation to compete under the UFC banner, where he dropped several jaws with an opening round stoppage of the very tough and resilient Dan Miller at UFC 158 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Miller, undoubtedly a very difficult test for any professional fighter, is well-known for his gritty, aggressive and submission-based attack.
However, Mein showed no signs of fear or "jitters," remaining calm at all times. After hurting Miller early, Mein escaped a very tight armbar that appeared to be very tight. Later in the opening stanza, Mein landed several heavy punches that sent Miller crashing to the canvas and setting up an impressive technical knockout finish in his Octagon debut.
What makes Mein so very interesting as a prospect is his level of experience. At just 23, he has tremendous experience with 35 fights (27-8), notching 15 knockouts and seven submissions. Against Miller, he showed no signs of Octagon jitters, establishing that he must be respected as a poised veteran, as well as a hungry young fighter.
Mein's attack is vicious, punishing and technical, which makes him a very scary fighter to approach. When he faces Brown at UFC on FOX 7 this evening, he'll take on yet another battle-tested warrior, one who can challenge him in all areas. "The Immortal" is notorious for making fights ugly and he will certainly test Mein's ability to perform under pressure.
And he'll do it under the biggest spotlight for Mein to date.
Ultimately, Mein is the UFC on FOX 7 "Fighter to Watch" because he is a very impressive prospect. With a few different judges in his meeting with Woodley, he could very well be in the midst of a 10-fight win streak, which is a ridiculous accomplishment when all factors are considered.
Mein will face another tough test tonight in Brown and in front of a massive FOX audience. Without a doubt, it's a tremendous pressure-packed opportunity, which has the potential to make him a household name with another sensational win, making him the sure-fire "Fighter to Watch" in San Jose.