Maximo Blanco

Former Pancrase lightweight champion and Sengoku star Maximo Blanco (8-2-1) is a ferocious young talent looking to move his career forward in America.

The lightweight spent much of his time in Japan, and due to his aggressive fighting style fans and pundits have declared Blanco a smaller version of a prime Wanderlei Silva. His record only serves to back that up with seven of his eight victories coming by way of stoppage.

Blanco’s welcoming party to America has come at the hands of none other than the world-famed Greg Jackson.  When Jackson heard that the Venezuelan wanted to move here, UFC lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone offered the fighter a place to stay.

“I really appreciate staying here and the fact I get to train at my own pace, it’s great,” Blanco told

The move to America was an easy choice for Blanco as his former employer, Sengoku, closed their offices and went out of business.  But while in Japan, the 27-year-old was treated very well. Not only was he paid to fight, he was given a monthly salary in addition to having everything from food, shelter, and training covered.

“Yeah, I was on a monthly salary.  They paid for the monthly salary, room and board, and everything else.

“The fact is Sengoku folded and they weren’t doing any shows anymore and I told them my desire to come to America.  Basically, they pushed my back to get out to America.”

On Sept. 10, the former King of Pancrase lightweight champion will make his debut on U.S. soil when he meets former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson. The two square off as part of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semi-Finals event in Cincinnati.

While things were stagnating in Japan, Blanco is excited for the opportunity to ply his trade in America.

“I think that the one difference in Japan is that when you win the fight, that nothing really changes.  Josh Thomson is a very, very good fighter, which means this is a good, good opportunity for me.  So I would like to win this fight and capitalize on this chance.”

While the 27-year-old was in Japan, he trained under the legendary Yoshida Dojo, and while he learned a lot, he feels that the training is a lot better here.  But what excites Blanco the most is the popularity explosion mixed martial arts has enjoyed. The Venezuelan is glad to have made the choice to come over.

“The Yoshida Dojo, they do a lot of various training menus, so it was good in that sense.  But compared to America, where I am right now, I get to train and spar with the top fighters.  So in that sense, it’s more fun here.

“It’s the best, there are so many interesting people in this country.  From what I see, in mixed martial arts and how heated the fans are, I believe that America is the best.”

Follow Andrew Gladstone at @gladstone1 on Twitter.
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