by Mick Hammond
This past Friday American Top Team Olympia’s Jeff Monson laid claim to the first ever Sportfight Heavyweight Championship as he defeated a game Jay White of Team Quest at Sportfight XII. With the win, Monson, a reigning Abu Dhabi Champion, is now undefeated in his last three years of MMA competition and continues to make waves inside and outside the ring.
“Actually I wanted to stand with him,” said Monson when asked about his performance against White. “He kept his distance and I didn’t want to be running after him swinging punches. So I shot and he sprawled and I swept him right away and passed his guard and mounted him. He gave up his back and that was it, I got him with more of a neck crank than a rear naked choke.”
Jeff has been over the past couple years one of the most dominant grapplers around, so to hear that he would want to stand with an opponent comes as something of a surprise to say the least. According to Monson however, it’s all part of an ongoing process to continue to improve as a fighter.
“I’ve had a couple of boxing matches and I’m doing a lot of stand-up and am training it about five days a week,” commented Jeff. “I’m looking to throw some punches and I’m more comfortable doing it now than I was. I felt my stand-up would be better than his, but it didn’t work out for me to show it.”
Monson continued, “I’m well-rounded I feel, but I do what a fight dictates I do, I have to work from the position I’m put in. Obviously I’m not going to go in and throw high kicks, but if my opponent keeps their distance I’m going to have to change my game a bit. If someone wants to throw with me I’m more than happy to do that.”
Even though Jeff took an inaugural title on one of Sportfight’s biggest shows ever, it is his actions outside the ring that has people buzzing in the MMA community.
Prior to arriving in Portland for his fight with White, Jeff was videotaped wearing a “Assassinate Bush” shirt while training in Olympia. This tape was used as part of his introductory interview prior to his entrance to the ring and it’s anti-George Bush sentiment struck many in both a positive and negative way.
“When people ask about it I tell them it’s not serious, I don’t mean it literally, it’s just expressing an opinion/political statement,” explained Monson. “It has to do with the fact that shortly after Bush became President he took away 76 million dollars from the Army Corps of Engineers that was supposed to be used to improve on the levies in New Orleans. The levies were not improved/constructed and when Hurricane Katrina came the city flooded and it killed thousands of people and that’s kind of what I wanted to point out, in fact after the fight I made reference to that.”
Jeff further stated, “Some people are displeased with what I expressed and some are positive. I had a bunch of people come up to me afterwards and express their support of it. No one came up to me personally and expressed negativity, only on the internet have people done that. I see myself as an intellectual guy, what I brought up are facts, it’s on record that he took money away from the ACOE, so I expressed my opinion on it, people don’t have to agree with me and I understand not everyone will. I don’t regret anything, it’s made people think and argue about what’s going on and they may disagree with my stance but at least they are thinking about what’s going on with the government.”
Politics aside, Monson continues on an 11-fight winning streak and he will remain busy throughout the end of the year, including a possible debut on one of MMA’s biggest stages. “I’m fighting at the Tacoma Dome (in Tacoma, Washington) on October 15th, then I’m fighting in Brazil on October 29th, and hopefully on Pride’s New Year’s Eve event.”
“I’m really excited about the possibility of fighting in Pride,” said Monson. “I was actually supposed to fight for them before, and as far as I know right now it’s a go. They contacted Dan Lambert and Ricardo Liborio and made the inquiries about me fighting on the show. It’s against an unnamed opponent so I don’t know whom I’ll be fighting. I haven’t signed a contract and anything can happen, but I will do my best, and hopefully it happens.”
Monson finished out the interview by stating where he feels he’s at in the heavyweight division and thanking the people that have made it possible for him to be where he is at right now in his career.
“I want people to watch out for me. I’m a well-rounded heavyweight and I think I can beat anyone” exclaimed Jeff. “I’m a more exciting fighter and finish my fights now. I go in and look to finish right away.”
“I want to say thanks to Josh Barnett, I’ve been working with him twice a week, he’s been phenomenal, I think he’s one of the best in the world mixed skills-wise. I’d like to add thanks also to the American Top Team. Marcello, Conan, Liborio, and Dan have pushed me and believed in me and expected me to win when no one else did. I have the best training, coaches, and facilities, and I feel obligated to win because they’ve given me all the tools. I think that’s the difference between now and three and a half years ago. It’s all the support I have that’s every reason for my success,” concluded Monson.
People in the Olympia, Washington area that are interested in checking out ATT Olympia can do so by calling the facility at 360-754-8501 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.