by Damon Martin (Photo by April Pishna)
The 185lb division seems to be filling up daily with new names and faces that are trying to secure their spot in either the UFC or Pride. One person, who by most accounts is the top 185lb fighter in the world not in one of the big two, Joey “The Dreamsmasher” Villasenor defended his King of the Cage (KOTC) title on Friday night, defeating tough-as-nails American Top Team member, Jorge Santiago.

Villasenor is known for his wicked knockouts and extremely precise striking, but Santiago was able to take the champion to a decision, something most of Villasenor’s opponents can’t say.

“We really expected to go to a decision,” commented Villasenor in his exclusive interview with MMAWeekly. “He had a flash knockout early in his career, but he took my teammate, Diego Sanchez to the first decision of his career, so he took me to my first decision. We were expecting that, he’s just tough and resilient. I almost finished the fight in the first round by TKO. If there was another 3 or 4 seconds left, they would have stopped it. He was surprisingly strong, stronger than I anticipated. He was very good with his stand-up, but we expected that. I clinched him up and dominated him all night in the clinch. I got into his guard and I was really surprised how strong he was in his guard, he proceeded to lock me up in an omo plata. I wasn’t hurried or threatened, but I was surprised how good he was on the ground. He started to throw some punches and started to land and I was surprised because I didn’t think he would catch me but he had a good reach. I got him back on the ground and started grounding and pounding him and I heard the 10 second clap, and I was landing shots. I mean I could see the welts forming on his face. I was putting some punishment on him. When the bell rang, I stood up to go back to my corner; he laid there for at least 10 seconds defending against me when I wasn’t even there. He was basically TKO’d and Herb Dean went over there to help him up, and he started up kicking at Herb Dean thinking it was me. He stood up and walked into the wrong corner, but I give him all the credit in the world for coming back for the next two rounds.”

Despite the fact that he was obviously dazed and basically out on his feet, the fight continued on for two more rounds, and Jorge Santiago was able to survive with one of the top fighters in the world today.

“I thought they would stop it after that first round, but I talked to Herb (Dean) after the fight and he said that you can be saved by the bell. I wasn’t surprised at the referee or at King of the Cage for not stopping it; I was surprised at his corner for not throwing in the towel. Because his eyes were spinning, and when this comes out on pay per view on Friday, everybody will see,” said Villasenor after the fight. ” He was a superior athlete and I really think he has a great future ahead of him. It was a great fight and I was happy to show that I could go for three rounds. I have a great team and I have great sponsors, Fairtex, Warrior Wear,

With his latest victory, Villasenor improved his record to 19-3 and continues to look forward to the next challenge, possibly in the 183lb Pride Grand Prix.

“Currently, KOTC is in talks with Pride, they just announced they are having a 183lb tournament for middleweight. They’re really pushing for me to go out there. It’s just a matter of them taking that step. I don’t know why they wouldn’t have an interest in me other than maybe they’re trying to protect a few fighters. I would definitely love to go that route,” said Villasenor about the possibility of his debut in Pride.

Joey Villasenor doesn’t get much rest because now he will return to Greg Jackson’s camp and help his teammate, Diego Sanchez, prepare for his fight with Brian Gassaway at UFC 54 in Las Vegas.

Joey Villasenor vs. Jorge Santiago can be seen on pay-per-view this Friday in King of the Cage: Prime Time.