There was a lot of hype and hoopla around Team Takedown once it had been announced. Investors were going to pay former collegiate wrestlers a salary so they could train full time and expedite their MMA careers. For the most part of the concept has succeeded with two of the members in the WEC and one in the UFC.
Unbeknown to many in the western MMA world, World Victory Road has been doing pretty much exactly the same thing on the other side of the globe. It had been announced back in September that Maximo Blanco would be a “Sengoku training player,” which means his development as an MMA fighter will assisted by World Victory Road.
Since then he has been training at Yoshida Dojo with Hidehiko Yoshida and Kazuhiro Nakamura. He has also quietly made a little name for himself both as a good prospect and as a bit of a loose cannon.
The 24-year-old Blanco is a Venezuelan freestyle wrestler who took third in the 163-pound weight class at the 2007 Pan American Championships. So far in his MMA career, he has gone 2-1 with one no contest, but in just those four fights he has shown a great deal of potential and a career’s worth of tenacity.
He made his MMA debut, in Pancrase, against Yuki Yashima. Early in the fight, the Venezuelan found himself caught in a triangle, which he easily turned into a “Rampagesque” power bomb. On the way down the two collided heads. The referee tried to step in, but Blanco continued to rain down punches and even tried to stomp his opponent. Eventually he was pried off his opponent and a No Contest was declared.
In his second fight, his raw and uncontrolled power were once again on display. After a few jabs, Blanco twice slammed his opponent, Hiroki Aoki, and ended he fight with hammer fists only 22 seconds into the first round. Once again, Blanco tried to pounce back on top of his opponent, but this time the referee was able to prevent further damage to the demolished fighter.
It appeared as if his string of dominance and rule skirting was going to continue in his third bout. Blanco was continually stunning Daisuke Hanazawa with heavy shots, but after an illegal knee to a downed fighter Hanazawa was able to recover. He came back in the second round and finished the fight with an arm triangle.
Blanco returned to form in his fourth fight, which was also his Sengoku debut. He took down Seigo Inoue and found himself in an arm bar. Blanco stood to his feet and violently stomped Inoue face until he went limp. After two failed attempts, he was able to complete a back flip off the top rope for his post fight celebration.
On April 5th, as the co-main event of Pancrase Changing Tour 2, Maximo Blanco is set to take on Pancrase veteran Koji Oishi. Most UFC fans probably just remember Oishi from the brutal beating Nick Diaz laid on him, but that fight does not do Oishi justice. Since that fight he has gone on to defeat UFC veterans Nate Diaz and Naoyuki Kotani.
This fight will truly be a big step up in competition for Blanco, but World Victory Road needs to be commended for properly grooming a prospect. In the past many former Olympic caliber wrestlers have been throw to the wolves in MMA and not come out unscathed. Maximo Blanco may not be the next big thing in MMA, but he has had the chance to develop not only his fighting persona, but also his MMA skills which will give him a chance against the veteran Oishi this weekend.
See for yourself