by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
While Strikeforce has established the top of its heavyweight division with fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, and current champion Alistair Overeem, the remainder of the division could use an influx of young talent.
Thus when the call went out for up and comers, San Francisco product John Devine answered.
A winner of five straight fights, the former Division I wrestler and reigning Cage Combat Fighting Championships titleholder, Devine looks to build upon his success Friday night at Strikeforce’s latest Challengers Series event in Fresno, Calif.
“I’m so happy I got the call,” Devine told MMAWeekly.com. “My last fight was in July and I’d just been waiting around, so once I got that call I was really excited about it.
“There’s a lot of talent on this card and I’m really excited to be on there with them. Hopefully I can make my mark here and start moving up.”
In an era where many still regard the bulk of the heavyweight division as lumbering giants, the six-foot-four-inch, 250-pound Devine feels he shares traits with the heavyweights that have made the most impact in the division.
“I’ve always been really athletic for my size,” said Devine. “I think my jiu-jitsu is good for bigger guys and I can go the distance. My cardio is to where I don’t gas at all.”
While having wrestled at 190-pounds in college against faster, more agile athletes helped develop Devine’s maneuverability, his personal pride also prevents him from being a typical “lay and prey” heavyweight.
“I would never want to win that way,” stated Devine. “For me, personally, I want to finish the fight as hard and fast as possible.
“I wouldn’t want to just take down a guy, punch him once or twice then lay on him. I think that would be embarrassing. When I train, I train to finish, even if it’s in the last round.”
At Strikeforce, Devine will try to finish former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier, who is coming off a successful MMA debut at the Challengers Series event in September.
“I really respect his wrestling,” said Devine of Cormier. “He’s been at the highest levels of that sport for the last 20 years or so.
“He’s definitely a good name and I think Strikeforce wants him to be up there with those top guys, so it’s a great opportunity for me to establish myself. I know he’s a tough guy and has a strong work ethic, so it should be a good fight, a good war out there.”
Should Devine get past Cormier and receive a return invite to Strikeforce, he intends to do whatever it takes to make it to the big show.
“I’m looking to fight as much as I can,” he commented. “I’ll take what they offer me, five or six fights this year if they want me to. I’m excited for it.
“I know I can hang and establish myself in there. If it takes a year or a few years, that’s fine. I have fun fighting, and really it’s one of the greatest things in the world.”
While he may be a small fish in the big pond now, with the heavyweight division where it’s at currently, it may only be a matter of time when Devine makes a bigger splash on the scene.
“I’d like to thank Tommy Rojas, JJ Performance Center, and all my friends from San Francisco,” Devine said in closing. “To everyone in Fresno, come out, it will be a good time. It’s going to be an exciting fight no matter what. I’m going to bring everything there.”