by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
American Top Team continues to grow as one of the premier mixed martial arts training camps in the world. From their home base in Florida, ATT has one of the largest rosters of fighters and many top contenders that continue to grow out of their camp, as well as many new faces than seek out ATT for some of the best training in all of MMA.
With many fighters having upcoming bouts, MMAWeekly recently spoke to representatives from American Top Team about much of their top talent.
DENIS KANG APPEARING SOON
One of the most sought after middleweights in the world, Denis Kang, is expected to sign with an organization soon and will hopefully fight in September.
Kang, who is the #6 middleweight in the MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings, has been weighing many options since Pride was purchased by Zuffa some months ago. It looks as though the 183lb Pride Grand Prix runner-up is soon to fight a new home. Speculation has run rampant lately about where he’ll end up, but the wait should be over soon as an announcement should be coming any day now.
JEFF MONSON TO FIGHT TWICE IN TWO WEEKS
American Top Team heavyweight Jeff Monson has always been a very active fighter, moving from grappling tournaments to mixed martial arts bouts on a frequent basis. The one time UFC fighter is now set to take on Chris Guillen at the Global Fighting Championships this weekend and then he’ll move on to September 1st where he’ll fight Pedro Rizzo for the Art of War heavyweight title.
“I slowed down when I was with UFC because you can’t do that. I have fought back-to-back weeks and to me I don’t take one any lighter than the other and if it goes well, it gives me more preparation,” said Monson about fighting two fights so close together. “I will peak for this one on the 17th and then I will be back in the gym working – but I will already be in good shape.”
DIN THOMAS TAKING ON KENNY FLORIAN
After a staph infection took Spencer Fisher out of the main event of the upcoming UFC Fight Night event, Din Thomas got quick word that he will now face Kenny Florian instead.
Thomas has been on a run since his appearance on the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter and the bout with Florian has fireworks written all over it.
MELVIN MANHOEF WORKING OUT AT ATT
Current K-1 middleweight Melvin Manhoef is in Florida currently working out with the fighters at American Top Team. Manhoef is expected to stay with the team for a few weeks while he works on his overall MMA game. In turn, Manhoef will help the rest of the team learn from his vast striking background.
THIAGO ALVES RETURNS
The UFC welterweight division is already stacked and adding Thiago Alves to the mix will only bolster an already impressive weight class. Alves has been out since he defeated Tony DeSouza at UFC 66 in December due to testing positive for a banned diuretic following the fight.
He will look to return to top form against Japanese fighter Kuniyoshi Hironaka at UFC Fight Night on September 19th.
GESIAS “JZ” CALVANCANTI TAKES ON VITOR RIBEIRO
One of the brightest up and coming lightweights in the world, Gesias “JZ” Calvancanti will take the biggest step towards proving he belongs among the top lightweights in the world when he steps in to take on Vitor “Shaolin” Ribiero in September as part of the K-1 154lb tournament. Many thought this would be the finals match-up, but instead of taking chances, K-1 put these two together in the semifinals instead.
Calvancanti was dealing with an injury that kept him out of the first round of the tournament, but he will return to take on the #6 lightweight in the world in Vitor “Shaolin” Ribiero.
OTHER ATT FIGHTERS WITH UPCOMING BOUTS:
-Jorge Santiago will be on the Art of War show along with his teammates when he takes on former UFC middleweight Jeremy Horn.
-Aaron Riley will be featured in an IFL Superfight versus Ryan Schultz during the upcoming IFL Finals show on September 20th in Florida.
-Gleison Tibau travels to England to be a part of UFC 75 and faces up and comer Terry Etim.
-Cole Miller returns for the first time since The Ultimate Fighter Finale to square off against Team Jackson lightweight Leonard Garcia at UFC Fight Night on September 19.
-Mario Rinaldi steps into the Art of War show as well, taking on Ron Waterman in a super heavyweight bout.
-Kalib Starnes has signed to fight at UFC 77 in Cincinnati against Alan Belcher.
-Wilson Gouveia is set to face Jason Lambert at UFC 76 in what should be a great light heavyweight match-up.
-Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio is just over a week away from making his UFC debut against the always-tough Clay Guida in what could end up being Fight of the Night for UFC 74.
-Steve Bruno is currently dealing with injuries and will not be competing in the near future but upon his return he has made it known he wants a match-up in the UFC against former Pride lightweight Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.