Airing live on AXS TV Fights from the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, MFC 37 will be headlined by a showdown for the Maximum Fighting Championship’s heavyweight title as Smealinho Rama takes on Chris Barnett.
MFC 37 will also mark the debut of the Maximum Fighting Championship’s new bantamweight (135-pound) division, and sparking that launch will be a clash of hot prospects as Anthony Birchak squares off against Ryan Benoit.
Two more fights have also been finalized. In middleweight action, surging title hopeful Jason Zentgraf will face the biggest test of his career as he meets judo and jiu-jitsu talent Luke Harris. And in a hotly anticipated lightweight clash, Kurt Southern takes on “The Afrikan Assassin” Mukai Maromo.
“Our last few events have demonstrated the priority we have put on exciting fights, and I fully expected MFC 37 to keep that momentum going in a big way,” said Mark Pavelich, Owner/President of the Maximum Fighting Championship.
“I’m excited to have Smealinho Rama and Chris Barnett battle for the heavyweight title, and I am really anticipating an electrifying debut of the bantamweight division with Anthony Birchak and Ryan Benoit. And of course, having guys like Jason Zentgraf, Luke Harris, Kurt Southern, and Mukai Maromo already signed and ready to work tells me that MFC 37 is going to keep our streak of fantastic shows rolling right along.”
For the first time since 2007, the Maximum Fighting Championship will crown a new heavyweight champion when Rama (Twitter: @SmailRama) collides with Barnett (Twitter: @Beastboy61).
Rama (6-0) is currently ranked 33rd in the world and had a spectacular 2012 campaign during which he was named Fight Matrix’s Rookie of the Year and received the MFC’s Submission of the Year. The 20-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, is coming off the sixth straight first-round victory of his burgeoning career with his knockout win over Mike Hackert at MFC 36.
Not only did Rama blast through Hackert in only 2:28, but the lightning-quick big man steamrolled through his other two opponents in MFC action, needing less than five minutes combined to finish those two bouts.
Fighting out of Tampa, Florida, Barnett (7-1) is ranked 50th in the world, and has notched five wins by way of knockout. The 26-year-old, who has won two straight fights, will be making his organizational debut at MFC 37.
A former football player with the University of South Florida, Barnett, who was born in Zaragoza, Spain, is a black belt in tae kwon do and also an extensive background in wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
Rising prospects collide in the MFC’s inaugural bantamweight bout Anthony Birchak (9-1) was the first fighter signed to the MFC’s promising 135-pound division, and the Tucson, Arizona, product will tangle with Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit (6-1). Birchak has won three straight bouts all by knockout after opening his career with five of six victories coming via submission.
Birchak (Twitter: abirchakMMA) joins the MFC fresh off a first-round destruction of Matt Leyva, needing only 1:22 to register the third knockout of his career. But fast-rising sensation Benoit, who fights out of Dallas, Texas, is also on a roll, having put four straight wins under his belt. Four of Benoit’s career wins were notched inside the opening round, and he has needed less than 5:30 minutes combined to put away his last three opponents.
Benoit (Twitter: babyfacebenoit) should be a familiar face to AXS TV Fights viewers having previously fought three times on MFC’s broadcast partner.
Middleweight fight with title ramifications
In two fights under the MFC banner, Jason Zentgraf (7-1) has racked up a pair of tidy submission wins, and the Missoula, Montana, fighter has his eyes set upon a shot at MFC middleweight champion Elvis Mutapcic.
To get that opportunity, Zentgraf (Twitter: @JasonZentgraf) will need to get past divisional stalwart Luke Harris (9-2) who is coming off his own title eliminator bout – a first-round submission loss to onetime challenger Joseph Henle at MFC 34. Most recently, Zentgraf took a second-round submission win via armbar over Clay Davidson at MFC 36. Following a career-opening loss, Harris, who will have the home-town advantage fighting out of Edmonton, Alberta, rattled off nine straight wins before his loss to Henle. In addition to his stellar list of judo accomplishments, Harris (Twitter: @HayabusaHarris) recently added a black belt in jiu-jitsu to his resume. Lightweights at the forefront After both suffered losses at MFC 36, Kurt Southern (10-4) and Mukai Maromo (8-3) will be looking to get back to winning ways at MFC 37.
This will be a rematch between the two from a matchup back in 2010 in which Southern captured a first-round submission via triangle choke.
Southern (Twitter: @KurtSouthern), who fights out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, dominated the opening two rounds against Jonatas Novaes with a combination of strikes and wrestling prowess. But Novaes escaped with the win, capturing his opponent in a tapout-enducing armbar in Round 3 which snapped Southern’s three-fight winning streak.
Maromo (Twitter: @AfrikanAssassin) was also submitted at MFC 36 but under even greater circumstances. The native of Zimbabwe who fights out of Edmonton, Alberta, had proclaimed himself to be the uncrowned champion of the MFC’s lightweight division, but he was tapped out via North-South choke by Graham “Cracka” Spencer in the third round of their title bout.
The loss ended an impressive run for Maromo who earned his second straight MFC Fight of the Year in 2012 along with the MFC Knockout of the Year plus Inside MMA’s Rising Star Award.
Two more fights will be announced shortly for the MFC 37: True Grit main card, along with a sizeable undercard featuring numerous local standouts.
Tickets for MFC 37: True Grit are on sale now via the MFC Ticket Hotline by calling (780) 504-2024 or by going to www.ticketmaster.ca.