When John “The Mulatto Mauler” Mahlow (May-Low) was asked to fight ex-UFC fighter Ryan Roberts, he immediately accepted. He did so even though he was offered the fight with just four hours advance notice and even though he had to drop nearly ten pounds to make weight.

And even though his next fight was an XFC lightweight title defense against Luis “Baboon” Palomino – a rising contender who’s trained and coached by UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira, who considers Palomino his personal protégé and a future world champion.

Mahlow defeated Roberts, by the way: submission victory, 2:10 into the second round.

“Ryan Roberts fought on UFC’s Fight Night 13 earlier in 2008,” Mahlow explained. “That’s national television – millions of fight fans watching. And if my dream is gonna come true, I desperately need as many victories over guys with name recognition as I can get.”

John Mahlow’s dream isn’t fame, fortune, or a decade-long title run. It’s one fight against one man. And that man is UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn.

“It’s not about world titles and it’s sure as hell not about stretch limos. It’s about earning the respect of the greatest fighter in my division,” said John Mahlow from his American Top Team training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. “Every man has a legacy. For some, it’s a legacy of complacency and wasted potential. For others, it’s a legacy of always taking the easiest path. My legacy – my reason for living – is to go down in MMA history as the toughest, most unrelenting fighter of my generation.”

He continues, “I might be beatable; all fighters are beatable. But I swear to you, I’m not breakable. And one day soon, I’m gonna lock horns with the great B.J. Penn. We’re gonna swap leather, trade kicks and taste each others’ blood. And when the fight’s over, Penn will look me dead in the eye and say, ‘John, you’re the toughest man I’ve ever fought.’ That’s my dream – and the reason why I must destroy Luis Palomino.”

Mahlow and Palomino will battle for the lightweight title at Xtreme Fighting Championships’ “Salute to Our Armed Forces 6: Clash of the Continents” on Friday, December 5 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. This will be XFC’s fifth fight card at the St. Pete Times Forum; the previous four fight cards drew a combined total of 43,700 fans.

Luis Palomino earned his title shot by knocking out the previously unbeaten Eric Reynolds in his last fight. That victory – Palomino’s fifth in a row since he began training with Nogueira – has left many MMA insiders projecting Palomino as a rising talent and future superstar in the sport. Mahlow hopes the drumbeat of hype surrounding Palomino will bring him one step closer to his dream fight against B.J. Penn.

“Big Nog [Antonio Nogueira] is dead wrong,” declared Mahlow, “because the future superstar fighting in that cage is not Palomino. It’s me, and the dramatic destruction of Nogueira’s prized protégé will make Penn versus Mahlow that much closer to a reality. There’s absolutely no price I won’t pay to achieve victory – I’ll spit out my own teeth and keep punching away until both hands are broken; it’s nothin’ I haven’t done in the past.”

“See, guys like Brock Lesnar walk into this sport as media darlings and have their dream fights handed to them on a silver platter, but guys like John Mahlow must seek and destroy everything in their path for their dreams to come true. I’m ecstatic that Palomino is the latest in a long line of media darlings. I’m thrilled that Big Nog is telling everyone how his protégé is gonna kick my ass and take my title. ‘Cause these are the fights that guys like me need to take in order for their dreams to come true. Believe me, I’m not afraid of taking risks.”

John Mahlow returned to his heavy bag for another striking session, but left us with one final thought before firing a barrage of lightning-fast punches: “Nobody believed my friend and training partner Mike Brown when he said his dream was to fight Urijah Faber. If his dream can come true… then why not mine? All I gotta do is destroy Luis Palomino.”

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