Thursday, July 24, 2008

'Wildman' is preparing for the biggest fight of his life

Posted by Robert Rousseau -

When Thomas “Wildman” Denny takes on Nick Diaz at the second CBS- EliteXC Saturday Night of Fights set to take place on July 26th, there is likely to be a lot of emotion in the ring. First off, anyone with a nickname like Wildman—and keep in mind that Denny’s nickname is deserved as it relates to fighting—no doubt fights with a lot of fervor anyway; and of course, Nick Diaz has never been one to come into the ring with a stoic expression and a ho-hum attitude. Second, Denny has been outspoken in regard to Diaz’s inability to make weight in his last fight against Muhsin Corbbrey, citing, “if you sign a contract that says you're going to weigh 160, you should come in at 160, not 169 (the weight that Diaz came in at). So, I don't know, I just think it's unprofessional.” Thus, Diaz probably isn’t thrilled with his opponent to begin with.

And finally, the stakes couldn’t be much higher. For Diaz, a victory would likely allow him another chance at current EliteXC Lightweight Champion K.J. Noons, a fighter that was winning the stand up battle against him rather decisively when a cut forced the referee to stop the fight in Noons’ favor. Further, this fight will take place in Diaz’s hometown, adding even more pressure to the mix.

But for Denny this fight may represent something even bigger. Nick Diaz has been in several huge fights on large organization stages against the likes of Noons, Takanori Gomi, Diego Sanchez, Sean Sherk, and Robbie Lawler before, so the magnitude of it all is nothing new. Denny, despite a strong 26-16 overall MMA record with seven (T)KO’s and 14 submission victories to his credit, has fought Yves Edwards (WCNHBC), Duane Ludwig (Shogun- 1), and Georges St. Pierre (UCC 12), but has never done so on a large market stage. What’s more, he caught all of those fighters rather early in their careers.

“Obviously it's the biggest stage I've been on,” said Denny. “I've been fighting in this game for nine years, busting my hump, raising a family and having a gym and everything else that I do. This is just a real huge opportunity. I'm glad to be a part of it. It's been a long time coming.”

Denny is known for a fast paced, aggressive style that often bears fruit (he’s stopped 21 opponents) and sometimes goes the other way (he’s been stopped seven times himself). But it may be that kind of inner toughness; that desire to put on a show and come after an opponent regardless of the consequences that could carry him to a strong showing with the pressure on.

“I've been training my butt off. I'm going to go out and bring it. I am going to set a high pace.” And as for the pressure of this being the biggest fight of his career, Denny seems un-phased. In fact, he believes that Diaz fighting in front of his hometown may work against his opponent pressure- wise.

“Obviously he's going to feel a little more pressure than I am, because that's all his friends and fans. They all hate me as it is. So do I have pressure? Not really. I think if you look at it, he's going to be the one dealing with a little more adversity than I am. I'm expecting them to throw bottles at me, cuss at me, flip me off, everything else. If he goes out there and loses in front of his hometown, he's the one that's going to be shunned upon. I feel he has more pressure than I do.”

Even with that, Denny knows that he’s about to take on a formidable and tough opponent. “The guy, he takes a beating, you know what I mean? He’s a real durable guy. He doesn’t care if he’s bleeding and bloody and swollen, he just keeps coming. I think it's going to make for a really good fight.”

In the end, these two were supposed to fight several times but something always seemed to get in the way. Now, finally, it’s going to take place on July 26th. In the biggest fight of Denny’s career, he certainly realizes the stakes, believing that win over Diaz, “shoots me to the top, man and hopefully sets me up for a fight against KJ or Yves (Edwards). I would love to fight KJ for the belt. That's a lot to ask for. But, hopefully, I go out and shine like I feel like I should and maybe I'll get recognized enough to get the title shot.”

Talk about a big fight for Thomas Denny. We’re all finally going to get to see him fight on the stage that he always wanted to be on.



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