By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly
The WEC is starting to put together some of the best cards on the independent circuit and on Friday night they will also put together a 4 man, one night tournament in the light heavyweight division. Among those fighters are Justin Levens, Jorge Oliveira, Scott Smith and Cesar Gracie student and up and coming fighter, Tim “The Wrecking Machine” McKenzie.
Often recognized for his wild hair styles seen on fight day, McKenzie is a top product of the Cesar Gracie camp and now he is focused on training and fighting full time, something he had never had time to do in the past. His first round opponent will be Scott Smith, who is also a tough fighter with good experience.
“I really don’t know too much about Scott Smith,” McKenzie commented on Wednesday night. “One of my buddies trained with him about a year ago. He told me he’s a really strong wrestler who likes to ground and pound. So I figure I’m going to end up with some submission or I’m probably going to try to keep it on the feet. But if it goes to the ground, I’m not worried about it.”
Cesar Gracie, who also trains current UFC fighters David Terrell and Nick Diaz, holds one of the best camps with fighters who are known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialists, but also do a majority of training with kickboxing and stand-up.
“We also train out of the Slaughterhouse, and Dan Black from Cesar Gracie’s camp helps me with my stand-up. I’m pretty well trained for the ground or my stand-up cause I don’t know really what to expect from this guy,” said McKenzie
McKenzie had a rough couple of fights losing for the first time in his career, first to MMA veteran Alex Stiebling in the WEC and also a loss to Pride veteran, Akihiro Gono while fighting in Pancrase. McKenzie revealed that for both fights he wasn’t able to train full time due to his commitment to finishing school and now feels that he is a completely better fighter.
“Well, I had to finish school so I could concentrate full time on fighting,” McKenzie commented. “I was going back and forth with school trying to graduate, finally I graduated, now I can concentrate just on training. Just keep training and push myself further and harder, to where I can’t go any more, to push my conditioning up. Also, with that Pancrase fight, I had a three week notice and I had to drop 30 lbs on that”
In his last fight, McKenzie returned to his winning ways with a stunning knockout over veteran, Bill Mahood in the Freedom Fight promotion. It was one of the quickest and most exciting knockouts in recent memory, and was McKenzie’s first fight after finishing school when he had the time to prepare for his opponent.
“It was pretty exciting. (The fight) was about six seconds long. I was expecting a war, and I was shocked as hell when he went down. The way I was training I thought we were going all three rounds. I’d heard so many stories about this guy that he’s just ruthless, and everyone expected me to take it to the ground and go for a submission. But I was thinking if everyone thinks that, I’m going to stand up and trade with this guy. Kind of prove to everyone that I can stand and bang or I can go to the ground.”
The winner of this tournament will undoubtedly have their stock rise quickly in the eyes of promoters and organizations like Pride and the UFC. “The Wrecking Machine” is widely seen as one of the top rising stars in the game and he understands the importance of winning these fights and looks forward to the opportunity to fighting if he makes it to the UFC, possibly a match-up with one of their stars on the horizon.
“If I win this tournament then I want to fight Forrest Griffin,” McKenzie stated. “Whoever will be a stepping stone to make my way in the UFC. I’d like to fight in the UFC, I like fighting in the cage better than a ring. I’d also like to fight Wanderlei Silva, I mean I’d like to fight my heroes, see how I’d do against them. I’d like to go for that championship belt that Chuck (Liddell) has, I just have to work my way up there. I never really thought about myself as an up and coming star, I just want to fight.”
When asked what fans can expect from his fight on Friday night, McKenzie held nothing back.
“Expect a lot of explosiveness. Don’t expect a lay and pray type deal. Expect a full on war. Dana White’s going to be there, you’ve got to put on a show for that guy. I’ve got my hair-do all done, and now I’m good to go. My hands are ready to bang and submissions are ready to break something. I would like to thank my sponsors who got me here, the Hell’s Angels of California, Premiere Real Estate Group, Pacific Coast Evaluations, Big O Tire of Concord, and my friends and family that are going to be coming up there to support me on the fight.”
Tim McKenzie will get his shot to show the upper brass what he’s made of at the WEC’s Halloween show this Friday night, Oct 14th.