Victor Valimaki looks to make his way bck to UFC

Victor Valimaki thinks a win Friday will help pave his way back to the UFC. (QMI FILES)

Victor Valimaki thinks a win Friday will help pave his way back to the UFC. (QMI FILES)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

Victor Valimaki has heard the rumours that the UFC plans to make its Edmonton debut next October.

He’d like nothing better than to be on that card, getting a second chance to prove he belongs in the world’s top MMA promotion.

“That would be a good one to get onto because I’m well-known locally,” said Valimaki. “To get on that one ... if I get a good win streak going it should be a no-brainer.”

It’s been nearly six years since the Edmonton-trained light heavyweight had his first shot at the big time. A couple of losses later he was bounced.

Friday night at the Shaw Conference Centre, Valimaki faces another UFC almunus, Razak Al-Hassan of Milwaukee in the AFC14: Invasion bout that’s key for both fighters.

Valimaki’s career was going nowhere fast until a win in February snapped a three-fight losing streak.

Another win would move him closer to his dream.

Another setback could prove fatal to the 30-year-old’s career.

“I feel good,” said Valimaki, who had to drop 30 pounds to make the grade at Thursday’s weigh-in. “I’ve trained harder that I have in a long time, so I’m focused and ready to go.

“I want to make a real run (at the UFC). There’s no point in doing it casually. I want to do it at a competitive level against the top guys. A win against Razak would be a large step toward that.”

Plenty has changed in the MMA scene since Valimaki made it to the show. More and more fighters with different skill sets have made it that much tougher to make the grade.

Making it back to the UFC means moving past his slump and into a much more competitive scene.

“I see how much the sport has grown already,” said Valimaki. “I definitely want to get in while I can and make a mark.

“Honestly, the first time I went in, I wasn’t ready for it. Now, I’m much more mentally mature, more physically mature. Mentality is a huge thing. I’m not kidding. When I first went in, I was green, not mentally prepared for it. I got starstruck by it. That won’t happen the next time.”

Stakes are about the same for Al-Hassan, bounced by the UFC after back-to-back losses in 2009.

“Every fight’s important at this point,” said Al-Hassan. “Win streaks can put both us back in the limelight again, so this is an important fight for both of us.”

Al-Hassan does not mind stepping in against what he expects to be a hostile crowd backing Valimaki.

“I like being the villain,” said Al-Hassan. “I like people booing against me. It puts less pressure on me. It helps me focus on why I came out here in the first place — which is to put on a good show and come out with the win.”

REAR NAKED CHOKEHOLDS: Aggression MMA has come up with some interesting personalities and matchups, including a title fight between Edmonton lightweights Stephen Beaumont (6-0) and Shane Campbell (5-1). Campbell has MFC star Mukai Muramo in his corner … Edmonton firefighter Mike Newton (4-2) faces Thunder Bay’s Joe Keesick (3-4). Win or lose, Newton will donate his prize money to Donnan school’s jiu jitsu program. The Edmonton school teaches jiu jitsu as part of its anti-bullying strategy.

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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