by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
Cage Rage Profile: Mark Weir

Mark Weir is somewhat of an enigma, a fighter with an incredible amount of natural talent that could have risen to the top of the sport but for various reasons never quite reached his full potential. He is still an incredibly dangerous unorthodox striker with an often overlooked ground game.

Weir’s background in martial arts is extensive and dates back to 1984. He earned his first blackbelt in the art of Tae Kwon Do in 1988 under Master Hee Il Cho and went on to win two world titles in the sport in the Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight classes.

One of Weir’s greatest assets is the ability to adapt and evolve his skills – always a student of the game, Weir developed his own system of combat in 1992 just before the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts on a global scale. The Range Fighting Programme has been continually evolving and incorporating new techniques ever since.

At 6′ 2″ tall and weighing 185lbs, Weir brings a distinct reach advantage over most of his opponents; this coupled to his incredible striking speed and ability cut the ring off garnered him with a reputation as a dangerous striker. His record paints a different picture; that of a complete martial artist with submissions in his arsenal. Weir has won 8 fights via (T)KO, 7 by submission and 1 stoppage due to strikes.

Weir’s fighting career started with a bang winning his early fights right up to his debut and defining moment at UFC 38 – Brawl at the Hall. It was at the Royal Albert Hall that Weir destroyed the highly ranked UFC veteran Eugene Jackson and lodged himself into the UFC history books with the record for the fastest ever KO at 10 seconds of the opening round.

Weir had arrived in the UFC with a bang and looked set to become one of the stars of it’s Middleweight division, that is until his momentum was derailed by scrappy American wrestler Philip Miller at UFC 40 (Vendetta), These two fighters engaged in a titanic battle that was very close to going Weir’s way up until an unexpected rear naked choke from Miller. Weir was dispatched back to the UK to regroup and Miller disappeared from competition shortly after with a perfect 19-0 record.

5 months passed since his loss to Miller and Weir was scheduled to fight Canadian David Loiseau in a bout that many expected would be a perfect match for Weir’s skills. Suffering back to back losses for the first time in his career to Loiseau, Weir was released from the UFC to continue a career that has been concentrated in the UK but for a single bout at WEC earlier this year.

Ever since the loss to Loiseau, Weir has had mixed success in the cage winning 4 fights by (T)KO and 3 via submission but also dropping 3 fights via (T)KO, 2 by submission and 1 by decision – more disconcerting by the fact that 4 losses were back to back; albeit to quality opponents such as Lindland, Stout and Santos.

We have recently seen flashes of vintage Weir with impressive wins over Sol Gilbert and Kyosuke Sasaki – Weir appears to have regained his confidence and momentum as he comes into the fight this weekend against Akira Shoji. By contrast, Shoji now finds himself in a similar position to where Weir was 12 months ago having dropped recent fights to Lister and Filho.

With a record of 12-12-5 you could be forgiven for overlooking Shoji in this bout but paper and experience are two very different things and Shoji is a well rounded fighter capable of striking, submitting and pounding his opponents, he is tough and possesses a lot of heart. His losses mainly stem from big name opponents such as Lister, the Rua brothers, Filho, Horn, Schilt, Henderson, Almeida, Coleman and Vovchancyn.

In summary, Weir has all the tools to win this fight if he turns up with his head in the right place and brings his A-game. Shoji will be able to take punishment and push this fight into the late rounds. With the common consensus that PRIDE is using Cage Rage as a means to get its fighters back on track following losses, a decisive win over Shoji may give the PRIDE the impetus to take notice of Weir. At 38 years of age it is debatable as to how much longer Weir might have at this level of competition but one thing is for sure, with PRIDE developing a true 185lb category it is feasible that Weir would make a good addition to the roster.