Misha Cirkunov Makes Long Awaited MMA Debut
The days of the tangible ‘David vs. Goliath’ fights which occupied the early UFC VHS tapes were done away with once weight classes were introduced. Conversely, the psychological ‘David vs. Goliath’ fights, examples such as Serra vs. GSP I, Alexander vs. Jardine, and Diaz vs. Gomi* to name a few, have continued to adorn the MMA landscape. Canadian fight fans will be treated to one such storyline as Misha Cirkunov, one of Canada’s most respected grapplers, makes his long anticipated debut into the world of Mixed Martial Arts on January 30th at the Centre Claude Robillard in Montreal, Quebec at Ringside: Triple Threat opposite Jeff Doyle from Sudbury, Ontario.
A storyline such as this one comes to life on the heels of a lot of media attention surrounding the 23 year old Misha. Some might falter under the tremendous pressure that the media lights present, however Misha takes it in stride – “I have had media coverage since I was 16 years old. It does not change anything. I still have to train hard and prepare.” Preparing for his fight at Xtreme Couture Toronto is exactly where you will find Misha as of late. Misha states, “I feel good, I am excited and I am ready…I respect him, he is a tough guy. I will do my best on the 30th.” It appears Misha appreciates that underestimating an opponent will land you exactly where Georges, Keith and Takanori found themselves following the aforementioned fights – back in the locker room contemplating what should have been.
Misha’s list of accomplishments in the grappling world is both impressive and extensive. Is Misha’s pedigree cause for concern for Doyle? “The truth of the matter is that I love standup and Misha loves the ground. Both of us would be going out of our element if we played each other’s game…it would be more fun for me to keep it standing, “states Jeff. He continues, “Misha has quite the resume… it just means someone is good at what they do, he puts effort into it.” The only perceptible chink in Misha’s armor is his stand up ability. Sam Zakula, Misha’s trainer, weighs in;
Misha has been cross training for a while with various striking coaches. He has worked hard at making himself as complete a fighter as he can… I know he (Jeff Doyle) primarily has a background in striking arts. He has competition experience which we respect tremendously. Misha will be ready to fight from any position.
Word on the street was that Misha was having trouble finding a fight simply because of his background. “Not really the case to be honest. I wasn’t interested in fighting until the later part of 2009. Once I wanted to fight, we had a fight set up pretty quickly…” insists Misha. Zakula credits Alex Caporicci, the Ringside matchmaker for the opportunity. Jeff ‘JD Thunder’ Doyle didn’t think twice about jumping at the prospect of fighting Misha. There was “…no second guessing the opportunity! I can relate to my opponent – what can I say, we’re a dying breed. It could be a bad day for either one of us…but the experience will be fun no matter what,” states Doyle. Jeff also seems confident going in as the underdog – “I feel like I’m just a stepping stone for Misha, one that may unexpectedly give way as he steps on it…not that it will deter his career, but just put a little dent in its’ perfection.”
Zakula maintains, “…we are pretty relaxed. Misha has so much competition experience under his belt. We are treating this just as another event that he is going to do. He is ready.” With that Misha aims to transfer all of his highly touted grappling success into a much talked about MMA career beginning with a victory on January 30th, whereas Jeff Doyle is simply looking to spoil the party.
*although ruled a N/C – Diaz overcame huge odds and submitted Gomi with a rare Gogoplata at PRIDE 33.
Article by Sean McManus – Senior Writer for Top MMA News.
Photo Courtesy of Al Quintero.