by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
This time a year ago the 145lb division wasn’t seen as a major weight class in American MMA. While the division thrived overseas where there was an abundance of lighter fighters, it still remained as something of a novelty here in the States.

What a difference a year can make. Successes by such 145lb fighters as Gilbert Melendez, Ivan Menjivar, Urijah Faber and most recently Mark Hominick has shown the division is a viable weight class capable of producing exciting fighters and match-ups.

At the upcoming Sportfight show this weekend there will match between Ian Loveland and Enoch Wilson that not only who will decide the company’s first 145lb Champion, but could also produce the division’s next breakthrough star.

For Ian Loveland it has appeared as if he was always destined to be a star from the beginning. Coming from the Team Quest camp under the tutelage of Randy Couture, Matt Lindland and others, Loveland immediately made an impact in the Northwest amateur ranks.

Ian went 7-0 in his days as an amateur, never going beyond the second round in any of his fights. So when he finally turned pro late last year there was already a huge amount of expectations placed on him by an ever growing fan base.

It would appear however that Loveland would be able to live up to the hype, quickly finishing his first three pro fights, never going beyond a minute into the second round in any of them. So impressive had he become that he got an invite from GCM in Japan, and that’s where things began to go amiss.

Going up against Shooto veteran Akitoshi Tamura in Mars, Ian lost his first fight ever, falling half way through the first round via triangle choke. One month later Loveland would lose his second straight fight, again via submission, this time to rising Canadian youngster Ben Greer in KOTC Canada in a four-round war.

So now having lost two in a row Ian must rebound against a tough fighter moving down from 155lbs in Enoch Wilson if he hopes to regain the momentum he had built up over the last two years and continue on the star track.

Unlike Loveland, Enoch Wilson did not come into the sport surrounded by the fanfare of established veteran MMA superstars. Instead Wilson jumped right into the fray with mixed results.

Starting off in 2003 Enoch had difficulties finding consistency, he would alternate wins and losses, sometimes looking impressive and others looking very much inexperienced. But throughout Wilson’s first full year of fighting, he never let the results determine his path, continuously fighting harder each time out.

When last year rolled around it became clear that it could be a make or break year for Enoch. He could continue to be inconsistent or he could step up and use his aggressive all out style to help elevate him to bigger things.

Luckily for Wilson the latter happened and he began to put things together fluidly, allowing his ferocious striking to set up his wrestling and growing submission skills. Currently riding high on a four-fight winning streak, Enoch is making a move down in weight to go after his first title against Ian Loveland.

Simply put this fight is going to be what a famed pro wrestling announcer would call, “a good old fashioned slobber-knocker.” Both Loveland and Wilson are extremely aggressive fighters who like to push the pace and will take the fight anywhere as they are both adept at all areas of the fight game.

What could very well be the determining factors in this 145lb title fight are strength and stamina. Being the bigger man Enoch should have the natural power advantage, but Ian has been working with highly regarded trainer Mike Dolce on his strength, so whoever can out-muscle the other can better apply themselves in the clinch, setting up ground positioning.

Both Loveland and Wilson have motors and both like to go full-blast all the time. So whoever gets tired first could see themselves in a huge disadvantage should the fight get pushed towards the later rounds as both are quick to jump on any openings they see.

To the winner of this fight not only goes a belt but a chance to help establish a name for themselves in a steadily growing division. The loser on the other hand may be relegated to continuing to fight on a local circuit for a while before getting a shot at nationwide shows.

As MMA’s popularity grows so does the attention smaller weight divisions are getting. People are realizing that some of the most exciting fights and fighters are at 145lbs and at Sportfight Ian Loveland and Enoch Wilson have an opportunity to take a title and put their names among the best that the division has to offer.