TORONTO - Joe Lozito has the heart of a lion and a roaring-back story, two things that could make him a star in the UFC.
And oddly enough, after staring death in the face and living to tell the tale, the 40-year-old may actually feel safer in the octagon than on a New York subway.
With all the hoopla last week over the record ticket sales for UFC 129 in Toronto, fight fans may have missed this amazing story, which also provides a glimpse into why the UFC is so huge.
Lozito boarded the subway on his way to work in Manhattan last Sunday and was confronted by a knife-wielding maniac.
The father of two had no idea the man muttering, “You’re going to die,” was on a 28-hour rampage that left a trail of four dead and five wounded.
It was a classic fight-or-flight situation, except Lozito was trapped on the subway with nowhere to run.
Rather than lay down and die, he lunged at the crazed man’s legs, took him down and, with help from others, tore the knife from his grasp.
Before the lunatic was disarmed, he slashed Lozito in his head, arm, hand and shoulder. But in the end, Lozito was on top of the murderer, in a mount position, his own blood pouring down on to the subdued man, leaving them both crimson-soaked.
Sounds like a mixed martial arts fight from the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, when the rules were few and far between.
Later, after Maksim Gelman, 23, was taken into custody, Lozito confided in interviews that he’s been a fight fan since UFC 1 and he credited his survival to his years of watching the sport.
On ufc.com, company president Dana White said he was “pumped up” by the story. So, he visited Lozito and showed him some love on Valentine’s Day.
“You’re a hero,” White said.
With dozens of staples on his shaved head, Lozito humbly explained how he attempted a single leg takedown but “it ended up being more of a football tackle.”
The UFC boss graciously invited Lozito and his wife to be his guests at UFC 128 next month in New Jersey.
I wonder if White considered — even briefly — signing Lozito on as a fighter.
I don’t mean to be insensitive but come on, this guy is 6-foot-2, 260 pounds and he’s from Philly, so you know he’s tough. He’d make an awesome heavyweight.
I know starting an MMA career at 40 is far-fetched, but living legend Randy Couture is still destroying fighters half his age at 47.
THIS AND THAT
UFC fans, who have a huge say in the product, have been pleading for a super-fight between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters, welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre and middleweight champ Anderson Silva. For this fight to happen, GSP will have to jump up to 185 pounds or Spider will have to drop down to 170 pounds. St. Pierre says all the talk of a superfight is premature and makes him uncomfortable. He is trying to stay focused on beating Jake Shields at UFC 129, a fight fans seem to be taking too lightly ... Speaking of looking too far ahead, B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch talked to the media last week about their bout at UFC 127, on Feb. 26, in Sydney, Australia, but most of the questions were about the Toronto show. The top contenders in the welterweight division took it in stride though. Penn even offered his thoughts on GSP’s title defence. “If there’s anybody out there who can give GSP a good fight, I think Jake Shields might be the man,” Penn said ... Check YouTube for interviews with Steven Seagal on Silva’s win over Vitor Belfort earlier this month. The actor, whose martial-arts exploits are legendary in movies like Above the Law, claims he taught Spider the devastating kick that he landed on the Phenom’s chops. Apparently, it’s no joke, the aikido master has actually been training Silva ... Jorge Rivera has also posted a video on YouTube where he pokes fun of Michael Bisping, whom he fights at UFC 127. An irate Bisping responds in kind on ufc.com. “He’s talked his way into a high-profile fight and he’s going to get his ass kicked!” the Brit said.