by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
If there is one fight that is almost guaranteed of creating fireworks on the already stacked upcoming WEC 19 card this weekend it is the lightweight showdown between “Razor” Rob McCullough and Olaf Alfonzo.
Both fighters are fiercely competitive and intense. Neither is known for backing down at any time, which can be detrimental on occasion, but when it comes to be action blood and guts style fighters, there’s no other way to be.
For McCullough especially this represents an opportunity to step up and show his skills on a larger stage than he’s had in quite some time. It’s a chance for him to step out during the growing status of the 155lb division and if he wins, maybe make his long awaited run at the bigtime.
Originally part of the (in)famous Team Punishment in the early 2000’s with the likes of Tito Ortiz, Ricco Rodriguez, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, McCullough’s Muay Thai skills made him a feared man coming into MMA competition.
Under the guidance of Colin Oyama, Rob came out of the gate quickly, winning his first two fights. It looked like he would quickly be following in his teammates footsteps towards stardom, but after losing his next two, including one to Josh Thomson at WFA 3, things became uncertain for Razor.
McCullough would rebound, taking a single-night eight-man lightweight tournament title and win one more fight to finish out 2003 as an undefeated year. Upon losing a hotly contested split decision to Harris Sarmiento at WEC 9, Razor would rebound winning his next three fights in decisive fashion, leading into this prospect to further make an individual name for himself and shine.
Opposing Rob is the WEC’s signature fighter, Olaf Alfonzo, a fighter that over the last couple years has developed into one of the true cult fan favorite fighters of the modern era of MMA. The reason for which is simple, he, like McCullough, is an action fighter.
This much was clear in Olaf’s first two fights for the company where he beat two fighters with far more experience than him, controlling much of the action with a relentless style. But it wasn’t until his third fight that he would go from new prospect into truly cult status.
At WEC 9 in January of 2004, Olaf would go up against John Polakowski of the Pit Fight Team (which includes trainer John Hackleman and UFC 205lb Champ Chuck Liddell) in what would become one of the all-time bloodiest fights in MMA history.
Over the course of three brutal rounds, Olaf and Polakowski would battle back and forth spraying blood all over the front rows, Alfonzo fighting with a clearly broken nose and John with various cuts and welts around his face. In the end a very close split decision was ruled in favor of Alfonzo for controlling much of the non-striking aspect of the fight and a cult icon was born.
Olaf would lose two of his next three bouts for the WEC Lightweight title, first against Gilbert Melendez and next to current Champ Gabe Ruediger, before rebounding with a quick win in January 2005. Alfonzo would next rematch with Polakowski and would control much of the action in the first round, but would suffer a dislocated hip and against his wishes would not be allowed to continue.
Now after a year away from action Alfonzo returns in a bout that could very much mirror his first with Polakowski as he faces world class kickboxer Rob McCullough in a fight that could determine a contendership for the WEC 155lb Championship later in the year.
To say this is going to be a barnburner would be a severe understatement. Both Olaf and Rob are fighters who go all out, will take two shots to give one and aren’t known for backing down at all. While McCullough may be the more precise of the two strikers, the tide of the fight could be turned on the ground, where Olaf has the advantage.
Both fighters are coming from different paths leading into this fight. Razor is on a winning streak while Alfonzo is looking to rebound of a loss and injury. Where they can head after this fight is similar though. Depending on what happens in the 155lb Championship fight later in the evening, the winner of this bout could step up and challenge for the WEC title or maybe take a step towards a bigger organization.
While opportunities continue to open up for 155lb fighters, the competition is fierce for the few spots that are available. In order for either Olaf Alfonzo or Rob McCullough to take that next step they have to continue to win and win impressively. Both have crowd-pleasing styles, but until they please the powers-that-be, it could be a while before we see two of the most exciting lightweight on the big stages of MMA.