by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Greg Jackson’s team has become one of the premier destinations for a great number of fighters to reach a championship level in the sport. With fighters such as Georges St. Pierre, Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine and many more training under Jackson, the list of upcoming fights and fighters continues to grow for the New Mexico based team.
Rashad Evans Turns His Attention To James Irvin
The time for disappointment was short when Evans heard that he would no longer be facing Chuck Liddell in London, England on June 7 as the UFC quickly filled the void with perennial knockout artist, James Irvin.
Evans will now turn to his lead trainer, Greg Jackson, to prepare him for the change of opponents and Chuck Liddell has to nothing more than an afterthought.
“The Chuck Liddell fight never existed to me now, it’s all about James Irvin,” said Jackson in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “We have a ton of respect for him and he’s very dangerous and if we don’t follow the right path then we can get into trouble, so we’re taking it very seriously.”
The fight will be featured on the main card of the event with a headliner between welterweight stand-outs Thiago Alves vs. Matt Hughes.
Jardine Ready For Dangerous Challenge of Wanderlei Silva
Coming off of a loss to Chuck Liddell in December, former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva will look to get back on a winning track against the last fighter to defeat Liddell in Keith Jardine.
Jardine hasn’t fought since defeating Liddell last September and despite a number of rumored bouts, the New Mexico based fighter will finally return on May 24 to face Silva in what many consider to be a #1 contender’s bout for the light heavyweight title.
“Wanderlei Silva is still incredibly dangerous at all times and even, believe it or not, at all ranges. It’s a huge challenge, and that’s what we like,” lead trainer Greg Jackson said about the match-up with Silva. “You get up for the challenges, much better than the guys that aren’t as dangerous. It puts us in a good psychological position.”
Joey Villasenor Looks to Impress Against Baroni on CBS
Stepping in for an injured Murilo “Ninja” Rua, top Elite XC middleweight Joey Villasenor jumped at the chance to face off against MMA bad boy, Phil Baroni, on the debut broadcast of the CBS/Elite XC Saturday Night Fights show taking place May 31 in New Jersey.
Villasenor is coming off of a brutal knockout win over former UFC fighter Ryan Jensen and having a chance to fight on CBS is just another great opportunity for the former King of the Cage champion.
Jackson stated in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio that Baroni always exhibits great wrestling and powerful punches. Villasenor will obviously also take one step closer to another shot at the Elite XC middleweight title if he is able to dispatch of Baroni in their fight.
Nate Marquardt Travels to London To Face Leites
Coming off of a submission win over Jeremy Horn in February, Nate Marquardt returns on June 7 in London to square off against ground wizard, Thales Leites.
Marquardt and Leites were supposed to fight back in February, but Leites had to withdraw due to an injured hand and now back at 100% the two top 185lbers will face off at UFC 85 instead.
While both fighters have unbelievable credentials on the ground, it would seem going in that Marquardt would have a decided edge standing, but it remains to be seen what gameplan lead trainer Greg Jackson will implement when matching up against Leites.
News and Notes from Team Jackson
– Canadian middleweight David Loiseau has continued to work with Team Jackson over the past few months and coming off of a win over Todd Gouwenberg in March, he will travel back to New Mexico in the next week to start training again for an as of yet unannounced fight.
– Damacio Page is currently dealing with a shoulder injury according to lead trainer Greg Jackson. Page was set to face Yoshiro Maeda at the upcoming WEC in June, but Maeda got pulled to fight bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres, in his first title defense. For now, Page will rehab from his injury while waiting for the WEC to place him in another bout.
– Donald Cerrone will fight on the previously mentioned WEC card against another top lightweight in Rich Crunkilton.
– Female fighter, Julie Kedzie, will be out of training for at least 6 weeks after completing PRK surgery (photorefractive keratectomy) to correct vision problems. She last fought in Battlequest where she defeated Angela Hayes.