by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce vice president Mike Afromowitz on Tuesday confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that Joey Villasenor will face Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos at the Strikeforce and EliteXC co-promoted event on March 29 in San Jose, Calif.
“I really don’t know much about his ground game – if he even likes hanging out on the ground,” said Villasenor. “I know he’s a really big banger so it’s an exciting matchup. I need to be more technical than him and be better conditioned.”
“I always look for the knockout,” stated Santos. “I think this will be a duel between his boxing and my Muay Thai techniques. Villasenor is an ideal opponent for me.”
Villasenor was originally expected to face Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Joe Riggs. Riggs, however, had to undergo a procedure recently to repair spinal damage sustained in his Feb. 23 Strikeforce bout against Cory Devela in Tacoma, Wash., leaving him unable to fight on March 29.
Starting off his career with an impressive 15-3 professional record, Villasenor has hit a roller coaster of sorts lately. He alternated wins and losses en route to a losing effort against Murilo “Ninja” Rua for the first ever EliteXC middleweight championship.
The Greg Jackson-trained fighter rebounded against Riki Fukuda last September, but has remained in limbo since, awaiting his next bout in hopes of working his way back into title contention.
Like most of his compatriots at the Chute Boxe camp in Brazil, Santos is an aggressive fighter with a penchant for striking. Like Villasenor, his recent career has had its share of ups and downs and he is coming off of back-to-back losses in his most recent outings.
Santos is also slated to fight on Wednesday night’s Sengoku fight card in Japan against Makoto Takimoto, an Olympic gold medalist in Judo. So Strikeforce officials will be hopeful that he makes it through that bout uninjured, lest they have to start hunting for another opponent for Villasenor.
The main event at the HP Pavilions on March 29 features Frank Shamrock defending his Strikeforce middleweight title against rising contender Cung Le. Jake Shields, the No. 7 ranked welterweight fighter in the world, is also on the card facing UFC veteran Drew Fickett for the first EliteXC welterweight championship.