At Titan FC 31, Yoshiyuki Yoshida makes his promotional debut for the Lightweight title against division kingpin Mike Ricci.
Who said Halloween isn’t for adults? Mike Ricci (10-4-0) and Yoshiyuki Yoshida (17-6-0) will face off on Friday, October 31st in the main event to see who will sit atop of the Titan FC lightweight division.
Mike Ricci, 28, has had a rollercoaster career to say the least. With wins over the likes of Jordan Mein, George Sotiropoulos, and Jorge Gurgel, he has been in the cage with some talented individuals. However, when it was time to make a name for himself, he fell short on many occasions.
At the TUF 16 Finale in Las Vegas, he was pitted against Colton Smith for the welterweight final and the result was an uneventful unanimous decision for his opponent. Then, he got another crack at a rising star in Myles Jury. It was a hard fought contest but the judges gave the split to Jury.
After his loss to Jury, Ricci was released by the UFC and immediately picked up by Titan Fighting Championship. Five months later he was making his debut against the gritty UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jorge Gurgel. The Canadian made quick work of his opponent by getting a power double and then finishing with devastating elbows over the top.
Riding high from his victory, “The Martian” jumped back into the Titan FC cage against another UFC veteran, George Sotiropoulos. His display of improved striking and takedown defense led him to dominate the fight from bell to bell. As a result, earning him a decision win and a title shot for the first time in his career.
With this fight, the Tristar Gym representative could erase all those memories of not winning big fights by snatching up the inaugural 155-pound strap.
The Japanese Judoka master has been on a resurgence as of late. Since 2011, he has racked up six straight victories all over the world. Four of those wins are by finishes, mainly submissions. This is probably his last chance at getting a belt wrapped around his waist in a stateside promotion.
Back in 2007, Yoshida was on a hot streak that totaled eight wins in two years. That eventually got the attention of the UFC and he was signed. His first matchup was against the now infamous War Machine. Not being fazed by making his debut, “Zenko” put War Machine to sleep with an anaconda choke within the first minute of the first round.
Over the next few years, Yoshida battled top tier opponents such as Anthony Johnson and Josh Koscheck. This resulted in a record of 2-3 in the UFC which led to him being cut in 2010.
He was then signed to Bellator Fighting Championship and lined up against heavy-handed boxer Chris Lozano. Yoshida could not handle the onslaught that was thrown at him by Lozano which made his corner throw in the towel after the 2nd round.
Having feelings of doubt in his mind, the 40 year old Japanese fighter came back and TKO’d Ferrid Kheder in France. Those feelings not in his head anymore, he reeled off five more victories including a unanimous decision over Phil Baroni under the One Fighting Championship banner.
Yoshida is looking continue his winning streak and getting that title will just be icing on the cake for the ten year mixed martial arts veteran.
Ricci vs Yoshida: Fight Analysis
Both fighters are at different points in their careers but their goals are the same. They will do whatever is needed to accomplish that one goal that has eluded them throughout their careers. This is why this contest is going to be very exciting to watch.
One thing that most MMA fans know about the fighters that come out of Tristar Gym is they always have a game plan and they stick to it. Mike Ricci is no different. He has shown in his recent fights that his striking has improved. Utilizing his six inch reach advantage will come in handy when he is trying to establish his jab from distance. If you look at the recent performance of Rory MacDonald, a close training partner of “The Martian”, he uses his jab to perfection to set up other options. After setting up the jab, body shots and head kicks will be flying at Yoshida like he demonstrated in the Sotiropoulos fight. Expect Ricci not to get too close to Yoshida, since he will want to avoid the clinch. However, if it does go to the ground, remember that Ricci has some decent ground and pound.
It is no secret that Yoshida loves to clinch and grapple against the fence. This will work well if he can get close to Ricci to grab him and drag him down. “Zenko” has top notch cardio and the endurance to make it a long, drawn out fight. This might not be fan-friendly, but a win is a win, especially in a title fight. Another option he has on the ground is either to go for a submission or ground and pound. After he has been grinding on Ricci for most of the fight and just when he is tired, Yoshida can go for the finish. Pressure is the key to victory for the Japanese veteran. All he has to do is avoid getting into a kickboxing match with the Canadian.
Both these guys are pretty even in regards to power in their hands but I would give the edge to Ricci on the feet. Also, on the ground it will depend on who is on top position since neither has an elite guard game. Because of Yoshida’s judo background and six submission wins, he has a slight advantage over Ricci in the grappling department. Whatever the case, a new champion will be crowned, and when is that not interesting?