MFC 37's loss is Anthony Birchak‘s gain, and he plans on taking full advantage of it.

When Chris Barnett was not medically cleared for tonight’s MFC 37 main event against Smealinho Rama, that fight was scrapped. And Birchak (9-1) got the call to bump up a spot on the ladder against Ryan Benoit (6-1) for a new bantamweight headliner.

MFC 37 takes place Friday at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Main-card fights air live on AXS TV.

Birchak, who trains at Apex MMA in Tucson, Ariz., with the likes of UFC bantamweight George Roop, as well as Bellator’s Ed West, comes into the bout on a three-fight win streak, all TKOs thanks to his hands.

But on Friday, he wouldn’t mind reminding folks that he’s got a ground game, too.

“I see it ending with one of my chokes,” Birchak told Radio ( “2012 was a great year to finish by TKO and KO, but I need to go back to my roots, frustrate him with my wrestling, put him on his back and find my choke.”

Birchak thinks that choke will be a rear-naked or a D’Arce. And that indeed would be back to his roots.

His first five wins, including at Bellator 41, came by submission with four chokes and an armbar. The man definitely likes to go after necks, and that’s what he believes Benoit should be expecting.

His three wins in 2012 all came courtesy of his hands, and that got opponents realizing he had more up his sleeve than those five straight tapouts he started his career with.

And now that he’s got the three straight knockouts? Opponents will have to keep guessing.

“I’m not just a one-trick pony anymore, this submission wrestler,” he said. “I’m trying to turn the corner as a full mixed martial artist and make that total package come together.”

One thing he said fans can expect Friday on AXS TV, though, is for him to put on an exciting fight. There won’t be any grinding out a decision in his game plan.

“I ain’t trying to go out there and outpoint-box anybody,” he said. “I’m always prepared for a 15-minute grueling war, but along the way, my opponents have been making mistakes and I’ve been fortunate to capitalize on those.”

He’ll be hoping for one from Benoit on Friday in Canada one way or another.

For the latest on MFC 37, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site. Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to

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