Top light heavyweights at career crossroads

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

There's more at stake than the TFC light heavyweight world championship at Total Chaos tomorrow.

Both defending champion Victor Valimaki and challenger Martin (The Stress) Desilets, of Victoriaville, Que., are looking at moving their mixed martial arts careers to the next level.

"Arguably both of us are the top guy in the country, it's just kind of debatable," said Valimaki (16-4). "We've both beat a couple of the same opponents. He's a very tough guy. I know UFC's looking at coming to Canada a bit more and they're looking at a couple of guys -- myself and Desilets (9-2)."

Valimaki is making his first title defence after a win over Lew (The Titan) Polley at TFC 8: Salvation in September, and is currently on a seven-win streak.

In 2006, the six-foot-two, 205-pound fighter took his first shot at the UFC, earning an invitation with a five-fight winning streak at the time. He was released after losses to David Heath and Alessio Sakara and would like nothing more than to get a second shot at MMA's top promotion.

A win tomorrow would go a long way

"I've known about Martin for a long time, we've been around the same circles but never had to face each other yet," Valimaki said. "This is kind of the Who's-No.-1-in-Canada fight and I'm hoping it's going to be me.

"I respect him a lot, he's a great fighter. I wouldn't have taken the fight if I didn't think he would really challenge me. I think this is probably the toughest fight in Canada for me right now."

And it's the career crossroad that's at the forefront of Valimaki's mind.

"I never really concern myself with the title until I win, I'm more concerned with the opponent," he said. "Once you start focusing too much on having a belt or keeping it, your mind's not where it should be.

"I'm just more concerned about the opponent right now. Beating him would be more of an accomplishment for me than actually winning the belt."


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