Jesse Taylor StrikeforceFormer Ultimate Fighter 7 middleweight Jesse Taylor looks at 2011 as a year that, even though he went 3-2, was a positive step forward for him.

“It was some good mixed with some bad,” he said. “I feel I’ve improved to the level of competition I’m facing, especially lately I’ve been fighting Top 20 level fighters. I think for sure I’m pretty close to them, if not there already.

“I think with the right head on my shoulders that I’m unstoppable. It was a good year, a learning year, and I just want to keep moving forward.”

Fights with UFC/Pride vet Denis Kang, Bellator champ Hector Lombard and Sengoku title contender Mamed Khalidov forced Taylor to up his game last year. For his first fight in 2012, Taylor will once again have to be his best when he takes on Terry Martin at SCC 4 on Feb. 16 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

“He’s kind of like me,” said Taylor of Martin. “He’s been around, he’s had a bunch of fights, is a veteran, been in the UFC and fought some really good guys. I’m excited for this fight and I’m going to bring it.

“I don’t want to fight tomato cans. I’ve never been a guy who fights tomato cans. I like that this guy is a tough guy; that’s what I’m looking for.”

Known more for his power than finesse, Martin’s style isn’t something that Taylor doesn’t feel he can overcome.

“I’m pretty confident in that there’s no way he’s going to muscle me around,” said Taylor. “Especially with the level of guys I’ve been fighting. Terry’s tough, but he’s no Hector Lombard. I definitely think I’ll be the more bully fighter. He may be a little bigger than me, but he won’t be stronger.

“He has good wrestling too, but at the same time, I think my wrestling is better than his. On the ground I think I’m better. He might a slight edge in boxing, but I have some good kickboxing, even though you really have seen too much of that from me.”

While he’s most known for fighting at middleweight, Taylor told MMAWeekly.com that he would like to step down a weight class and make his run at the UFC.

“I’m an opportunist,” he said. “You only do this once, so I might as well try 170. I can make the weight, and with enough time to get down there, I can definitely do a lot of damage. I think it would be hard even for the best guys in the world at 170.”

Even though his ultimate goal is to return to the top promotion in the world, Taylor feels he has to take things one step – one fight – at a time, starting with SCC 4.

“I have high goals for myself, but all my energy and focus is on this fight,” he said. “None of those things will be accomplished if don’t get a nice, solid win in this one and get a streak going.

“No disrespect to the other fights on the card, but I think this should be the main fight. That’s kind of my like my motivation: I should be in a higher position, getting some more respect, so I’m going to go out there with guns blazing.”

E-mail Mick Hammond
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