It's time to put up

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Those around him say it's time for Rodrigo Munduruca to show what he's made of when it comes to mixed martial arts.

The Brazilian-born jiu-jitsu master, who came to Winnipeg for the Pan Am Games in 1999 and never left, will headline tonight's Canadian Fighting Championship 3 card at the convention centre.

Munduruca will battle Dan (The Sandman) Christison of Albuquerque, N.M., to cap off the 11-fight card. Christison went the distance with Frank Mir, but lost a decision, at UFC 61 three years ago.

Munduruca's trainer, CFC promoter Giuseppe DeNatale, said it's time for the big Brazilian to prove that he can take the final step to the UFC, should they come calling.

DeNatale said Munduruca has no more excuses, considering he's given up sports jiu-jitsu.

"Now he's focusing on his MMA career," DeNatale said. "He is one fight away from making it to the UFC. They're already watching him. They're watching to see how he performs."

Tonight's main event, which will be refereed by UFC legend Big John McCarthy, will feature plenty of beef in the ring. Christison is 6-foot-7 and normally 300 pounds, while Munduruca is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds.

The fighters were supposed to weigh in at 265 pounds last night, but they will no doubt put plenty of pounds back on before the start of tonight's tilt.

"It's his first real test," DeNatale said. "This is his first time fighting someone bigger than him -- much bigger. It's gut-check time."

DeNatale is also looking forward to tonight's co-main event, which will pit Dan Grandmaison of Sudbury, Ont., against Claude Patrick of Toronto.

"That's my pick for fight of the night," DeNatale said. "They're two of the top 170-pound fighters in the country, right after Georges St-Pierre."

DeNatale is hopeful that 3,000 spectators will take in tonight's card, which will air on The Fight Network at a later date. The Score's MMA analyst, Mauro Ranallo, is also scheduled to be in attendance tonight.

The presence of McCarthy, the legendary UFC referee, is just icing on the cake, according to DeNatale.

"It's huge," he said. "It just brings legitimacy to the whole CFC organization. They were just at Strikeforce. Mauro Ranallo was calling the play by play at Strikeforce, and Big John McCarthy was the referee in the main event for Fedor (Emelianenko) and Brett Rogers.

"We're literally the biggest MMA promotion in Canada. We've come pretty far, pretty fast."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

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THE CARD

Tonight's CFC 3 card at the convention centre, which starts at 7 o'clock:

- Luis Cepeda, Winnipeg vs. Jamie Guminy, London. Ont.

- Mark Durant, Winnipeg vs. Brett Portieous, Ottawa

- Roland Delorme, Winnipeg vs. Stephane Denis, Montreal

- Lance Cartwright, Winnipeg vs. Chester Post, Strathroy, Ont.

- Sean Quinn, Regina vs. Francois Hache Lacombe, Montreal

- Agostino DeNatale, Winnipeg vs. Jesse Gross, London, Ont.

- Eric Perez, Winnipeg vs. Ben Nguyen, Sioux Falls, S.D.

- Chris Stranger, Peguis vs. Kris Lee, Pinware, N.L.

- Dominick Blais, Winnipeg vs. Warren Phillips, Saskatoon

- Dan Grandmaison, Sudbury, Ont. vs. Claude Patrick, Toronto

- Rodrigo Munduruca, Winnipeg vs. Dan Christison, Albuquerque, N.M.


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