Thursday afternoon, Tim Means began hinting on Twitter about some “sick fight news” to be announced on Friday.
For New Mexico MMA fans, the news is more sensational than sick.
The UFC announced Friday that Means and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who train at rival gyms in Albuquerque, will meet in the Octagon on Feb. 21 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The fight, to be contested at the 170-pound welterweight limit, will be the main event of a UFC Fight Night card scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports 1.
For Means, a Moriarty fighter who trains at FIT-NHB, a fight against Cerrone represents a tremendous opportunity for advancement and exposure. Means (25-7-1), despite five UFC wins in his last six fights the past 18 months, is not ranked in the top 15 in the 170-pound welterweight division.
It will be Means’ first UFC main event.
For Cerrone (28-7-1), ranked No. 3 at lightweight (155), moving up in weight for a fight with Means at 170 would seem to be a high-risk, low-reward situation. But Cerrone, who trains at Jackson-Wink, has always been an anybody, anytime, anywhere kind of guy.
Cerrone is coming off a disappointing loss by first-round TKO to Rafael Dos Anjos in a UFC lightweight title fight on Dec. 19. Means rebounded from a loss to then fifth-ranked Matt Brown with a second-round stoppage of John Howard on Dec. 10.
It’s rare for Jackson-Wink and FIT-NHB fighters to face each other, and it has never happened before at such a high level.
While Jackson-Wink has dozens of fighters in the UFC, FIT-NHB has only two: Means and rising flyweight Ray Borg.
Tom Vaughn, who owns and operates FIT-NHB with his wife, Arlene Sanchez Vaughn, is a former student of Jackson-Wink founder Greg Jackson. Vaughn worked for Jackson in the Albuquerque martial arts business before striking out on his own.
Spicing the rivalry is the move of several FIT-NHB fighters over the years to Jackson-Wink – most notably Carlos Condit, who tonight in Las Vegas, Nev., will challenge Robbie Lawler for the UFC welterweight title.
Neither fighter had much to say on Twitter after the announcement was made. Means simply tweeted, “it’s out I am fighting @Cowboycerrone main event Feb 21. $$$$$$.”
Cerrone responded, “Couldn’t say it any better my man $$$$$$$$$ like the way you think $$$$$.”
Reaction elsewhere on the Twittersphere was swift and largely positive.
“Both fighters are incredible strikers and like to stand and bang,” wrote Matthew Wells of mmalatestnews.com. “While the fight is scheduled for five rounds, it’s highly unlikely this one will go to the judges.”