Brian Cobb could have a lot to say, but he chooses to take a different path … a very different path from that of his boisterously talkative opponent Antonio McKee.
Cobb is quietly going about his business, working on a game plan, barely taking a break through the recent holidays to hone his craft and prepare for his shot at the Maximum Fighting Championship’s lightweight crown. While McKee has delivered verbal jabs along the way, with more surely to come, Cobb refuses to take a bite at any bait.
“The Bandit” loves the position he’s in – just one step away from stealing McKee’s title at MFC 32: Bitter Rivals.
“I have built a career off of being the underdog,” said Cobb. “I don’t expect many people to think I can win this fight either. But rankings don’t mean anything and talk doesn’t do anything. That’s why we fight the fights.”
The long-awaited showdown between Cobb (19-6) and McKee (26-4-2) happens on Friday, January 27 emanating live on HDNet Fights from the Mayfield Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. The co-main event shares the spotlight of the televised card beginning at 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT (check local listings for channel designation).
Cobb, who is riding a four-fight winning streak, has had a few opportunities to jump up and fire some verbal volleys in McKee’s direction, especially when the reigning champ shot off snippets such as being able to beat Cobb quick enough to go shopping before heading home after the fight. Still Cobb bit his tongue, letting the comments fall on deaf ears, and keeping his cool.
“Nothing anyone does can get under my skin,” offered the 31-year-old Bakersfield, California, product. “He is doing what he feels is the best thing to do to promote himself and the fight. I’m obviously the target because I will be the one across the ring from him come fight night.
“I take Antonio as the type of guy who is doing his job improving and attracting attention to his brand. Hate him or love him, people want to see what he will say next and if he can follow through with his predictions. I am definitely more reserved than Antonio, but we both have similarities including our wrestling base, our work ethic, and our desire to win. I just want to make my family and fans proud.
“I just want to put on a great show for the fans in Edmonton, and I know Antonio and I can put together fireworks for them. I hope for the best showing from both of us.”
Cobb made quite a splash in his organizational debut, and just as he does for the title fight, entered that bout as a sizeable underdog. Little was known about him at the time. In fact, about the only thing that anyone mentioned was how a fighter with a vastly unrecognized name had immerged in the world’s top-20 rankings.
Cobb went out and proved he deserved such a ranking, overcoming an early dangerous predicament against then No. 1-ranked contender Drew Fickett to score a first-round TKO and the MFC’s Comeback of the Year for 2011.
That encounter was a constant battle for positioning – one which Fickett had early, but lost to Cobb who turned the tables in dramatic fashion to score the stunning victory. It’s quite likely a battle for position will again be the case when Cobb challenges McKee. Normally McKee has a considerable edge in this department as a result of his incredible wrestling prowess, but for a change the champ is facing someone who can contend right with him in scoring and defending the takedowns.
With wrestling abilities arguably assessed as a saw-off, the door is wide open for other attacks to come into play. Cobb boasts 12 submission victories on his resume, while McKee, who has suffered only one loss since 2003, has been tapped just once in 32 fights. McKee has fought three times under the MFC banner, successfully debuting and taking the vacant title in February 2009 against Derrick Noble. He then cruised past Carlo Prater eight months later, before putting together his most impressive outing in ages with a first-round destruction of Luciano Azevedo in September 2010.
On top of his stellar win over Fickett, Cobb holds key career wins over Kazunori Yokota and Diego Saraiva.
“I definitely respect Antonio’s wrestling and jiu-jitsu game,” noted Cobb. “I feel like I will be one of the better wrestlers he has ever faced but how we stack up will be a difference maker.
“I continue to work with Division I wrestlers on a daily basis but I know how dangerous his takedown shots and explosive finishes are.
“We both like to work the top game. I know he has had success beating people with good bottom games but I feel he can appreciate that a wrestler has a better ability to escape from the bottom than most jiu-jitsu players. I hope to not spend much time on the bottom but I think I can move well from the bottom to create some exciting scrambles if necessary.”
If it all falls into place according to his design, Cobb has the chance to take McKee’s title and become just the second MFC lightweight champion in the organization’s history.
“Becoming the MFC lightweight Champion would mean the world to me,” declared Cobb.
“I have trained very hard throughout my entire career to get a chance like this with such a big organization. Being the champ would give me the opportunity to build my brand and hopefully bring more attention to the caliber of fighters in the MFC to my fans in California.
“Mr. Pavelich has built an incredible organization and I hope to win the belt and represent myself, my family, the Lord and the MFC to best of my ability.”