TORONTO - With the explosion in popularity of mixed martial arts, fans and agents alike are looking around every corner for the next undiscovered talent who will set the world on fire.
After all, only a few short years ago no one knew who UFC light-heavy-weight champion Jon Jones was. But at the same time, some may be too quick to peg a hot prospect as a future world champion.
At the pre-fight press conference for the Score Fighting Series card in Mississauga on Friday, commentator and host Mauro Ranallo wasted no time in heralding main event participant Jordan Mein as the next major Canadian fighter.
ďWe truly believe he is the next big thing to come out of Canada,Ē Ranallo boomed as he introduced the Score Fighting Seriesí poster boy.
Ranalloís enthusiasm isnít totally without merit.
Despite only being 21, the Lethbridge, Alta. native already holds more professional wins than the recently retired Randy Couture ó 21, compared to the MMA legendís 19.
Though he hasnít been in the sport long enough to achieve nearly as much as Couture ó and calling him the next big thing seems a little premature ó Meinís well on his way to making a serious name for himself. His current four-fight win streak includes victories over UFC veterans Joe Riggs and Josh Burkman.
But if thereís any hype surrounding his potential, Meinís not buying into it.
ďI donít really take that to heart because you could get your ass kicked and the next guy comes in and heís the best thing in Canada,Ē Mein told QMI Agency. ďWeíve had guys at the gym who were up and coming and nothing ever happened. I like to just take it each fight at a time. I know that sounds redundant saying that, but itís the truth. I just want to entertain. Thatís all Iím focusing on.Ē
Mein gets the opportunity to continue building his profile when he faces dangerous Lithuanian kickboxer and DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis in the main event at the Hershey Centre.
Known for his devastating high kicks, Zaromskis already has an impressive highlight reel of knockouts. Any other day of the week, Mein would be cheering for Zaromskis to drill his shin across an opponentís skull.
ďTo be honest, I havenít watched much tape on him (while preparing for the fight),Ē Mein said. ďI watched it while it was going on, as a fan. I was watching and was like, ĎHell yeah, that guyís awesome.í It worked out that weíre going to be fighting and Iím amped.
ďIím ready for all the pressure and Iím ready to keep my hands up nice and high. Iím honoured to compete with all these great athletes. Itís going to be a fun night.Ē
Following a tough skid in Strikeforce, where he suffered TKO losses at the hands of Nick Diaz and Evangelista Santos and a no contest against Waachiim Spiritwolf, Zaromskis successfully defended his DREAM belt against MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba on New Yearís Eve in Japan.
However, the fight didnít go exactly as planned as Sakuraba suffered a grotesque injury that ended the bout early.
Two minutes into the first round, Sakuraba attempted his patented single-leg takedown. Zaromskis defended it, but his hand accidentally caught Sakurabaís right ear, partially tearing it from his head.
Zaromskis was awarded a TKO victory, but it wasnít the way he wanted to win.
ďI donít like it to win like that, but thereís nothing you can do,Ē Zaromskis said. ďA fight is a fight; anything can happen. Some things happen.Ē
Zaromskis admitted he hasnít seen many of Meinís previous fights, but said he doesnít tend to watch lots of tape on his opponents.
ďI donít need to know too much on people,Ē Zaromskis said. ďI just need to know who he is: wrestler, jiu jitsu (specialist), grappler, standup (fighter). Thatís it.
ďAll fighters are different Ö I will be different; I will do my game.Ē
This will be Meinís seventh fight in 12 months. He said heís at the point in his career where he needs to get as much experience as possible. He hopes to one day appear in the UFC, where fighters tend to compete about three or four times a year.
ďYeah, I want to keep fighting the best guys,Ē Mein said. ďAs long as my body is healthy enough to compete at a high level, Iím going to do it. I mean, if Iím injured, Iím not going to be training injured or fighting injured. So as long as Iím smart about it, Iím going to get as many fights as I can.Ē
The Score Fighting Series card also features UFC veterans Luigi Fioravanti, Joe Doerksen and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Doerksen and Fioravanti will square off in what should be an entertaining fight, while Sokoudjou meets Roy Boughton, who trains at Cesar Gracie Academy alongside Diaz and Jake Shields.