Jeff Monson has a predicament. Well, more than one, actually.
By now, you've heard about his legal woes, both in Washington and in North Carolina. He's confident both will be resolved quickly and favorably, though.
He also has some tough MMA-related calls to make. First, he has to deal with a common dilemma for fighters who aren't UFC headliners. Monson will fight Feb. 27 in Xtreme Fight Championship against XFC light heavyweight champion Darrill Schoonover. Then, on Roy Jones Jr.'s hybrid March 21 boxing/MMA show, Monson will face tough veteran Roy Nelson.
The quick turn-around is nothing new for Monson, or other non-elite-level stars. He fought three times in three months at the end of 2008. Bottom line: Monson and others like him have to make a living. That means taking as many fights as possible, whenever they're presented.
Monson also has to decide whether he'd take an Affliction fight if it's offered. The Snowman says he'd take the right Affliction offer, despite feeling strongly that he will be able to return to the UFC later this year. He says UFC matchmaker Joe Silva told him recently, "We want you back."
Affliction and the UFC are in competition. The UFC plays hardball. And a UFC-to-Affliction then back-to-the-UFC path seems like a tough sell for a fighter. Would the UFC welcome back a fighter who just won in its chief competition?
Monson says yes. "The UFC wants guys who are winning fights," Monson says. "My impressions are that if I keep winning, an Affliction fight wouldn't matter in negotiating."
Winning is the key component. With a loss or two outside the UFC, it's almost impossible to warrant a return to The Octagon. And Monson is three straight wins—possibly four—from getting back to the UFC. He has to beat Schoonover, thenNelson in a tough fight. Nelson's known as a brawler with power, but he's also an underrated grappler, one of the few who has beaten Monson in a submission wrestling match (Monson is 3-1 against Nelson career, though.) Monson's biggest edge would be extending the fight into the third round and the full 15 minutes against Nelson, who has fought a total of 14:29 in his past three bouts.
After that, Monson still has a fight left in Japan's Sengoku, where he still hopes to finally corner Roger Gracie. Monson has long wanted an MMA bout against Gracie, who's only 2-0 but carries a last name that sells tickets and buys.
"I really want a shot at Roger," Monson says. "It's time to see Roger get a real test."
PREDICTIONS FOR UFC 95
I'll make this quick, and just open it up for comments about what an idiot I am:
(1) Diego Sanchez over Joe Stevenson by knockout.
(2) Nate Marquardt will stop Wilson Gouveia.
(3) Rory Markham should beat Dan Hardy.
(4) Demian Maia will submit Chael Sonnen.
(5) Josh Koscheck will win a decision against Paulo Thiago.