In his more than decade long career as a professional MMA fighter, Jeff Monson (40-11) has seen the sport radically evolve before his eyes, leaving many fighters behind who failed to adapt with it.
“It’s almost not even the same sport really,” Monson said. “Now you don’t see one style dominate any other style, you see the guys that are all well rounded. You’ve got to be good at all aspects in order to [succeed].”
For Monson, the next test of his evolution as a fighter will take place on Friday, April 1, when he challenges Tony Lopez (23-5) for the ISKA heavyweight title at Fight Time 4 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“He’s a real tough guy,” Monson said. “It’s not like he brings one thing [to the fight], he’s pretty well rounded. It’s taken a lot of preparation for this fight just because I’ve got to prepare for everything since you don’t know where the fight is going to go because [Lopez] is pretty good at all aspects of it.”
His match with Lopez could be one of Monson’s final fights as a heavyweight as he debates the possibility of dropping down to light heavyweight.
“We’re looking for the right opportunity,” Monson said. “It’s one of those things where if I make the cut to 205, that’s where I’m going to be. I’m going to be one or the other.”
The influx of much larger heavyweights into the division is part of the reason Monson is considering the change in weight class.
“Those heavyweights now are just massive,” Monson said. They’re big guys but they’re athletic. They move just as quick as little guys and they’re agile and all that stuff.
No matter what weight class he decides on though, Monson wants to fight for a major organization, and he specifically wishes he could have been a part of Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament.
“I would have liked to have been invited,” Monson said. “I think like just on paper I should have been. I think I deserved to be in that tournament, however it’s one of those things you know, what one of those eight guys would you have kicked out to let me in? I couldn’t justifiably say ‘yeah this guy doesn’t deserve to be here’, because that’s not true. All those guys deserve to be there.”
Despite the decisions Monson has to make regarding his career in the future, he isn’t looking past his title fight with Lopez, and he believes that it is going to be fun to watch, in part because of its unpredictability.
“That’s the fun thing about it I guess,” Monson said. “You’ve got two guys that are working on all the aspects of the game, and you just don’t know where [the fight] is going to end up.”
Jeff Monson wants to thank American Top Team, without them I wouldn’t be here. I have a great little restaurant here; La Parrilla, that sponsors me, and JM Lexus is putting a lot up for this fight. My management team ML Management. There are so many people to thank but mainly of course my teammates for training me and putting me in a situation where I’m able to be successful.