(Photo courtesy of damagecontrolmma.com)
There’s been a lot of talk recently about Jeff “The Snowman” Monson (42-11) contemplating a return to the UFC as a light heavyweight. How much of a threat would he pose to the UFC elite in that division? If recent history is any indication, the Snowman is still very relevant and his fans are clamoring to see him in the UFC octagon again soon.
Now 40 years old, Monson has crafted a glorious MMA career. He last saw action for the UFC in November of 2006, dropping a decision to Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight championship. He has gone 18-5 since that point, and is currently on an eight fight win streak. Since leaving the UFC, his competition level has been respectable, and he has recorded victories over Ricco Rodriguez, Roy Nelson, Sergei Kharitonov, Travis Fulton, Tony Lopez, and Maro Perak. He is currently the ISKA and Strength & Honor Championship heavyweight champion.
A move to light heavyweight makes sense for the Snowman for several reasons. At 5’9”, he potentially has problems with height and reach against the heavyweight elite. This was shown in his courageous loss to Tim Sylvia back at UFC 65. Giving up almost a foot in height and half a foot in reach made it difficult to get to his target. Also, if he is able to cut weight to the 205 pound level, and is able to maintain power, I believe his world class grappling skills will stand out against the UFC elite. In recent years, his stand up and striking game have vastly improved as well. He is a two time ADCC submission champion and is a proud product of American Top Team. His presence on the UFC roster would instantly add to its reputation.
Over the years, Monson has fought for a variety of organizations and has a UFC record of 4-3, with all three losses coming fighters who have been UFC Champions (Tim Sylvia, Ricco Rodriguez, and Tito Ortiz). Monson is also always in fighting shape and competes regularly to stay sharp. In 2010, he went 7-2. So far in 2011 he is 3-0 with his next schedules bout at heavyweight scheduled for May 28th against Konstantin Gluhov in Paris. Monson has stated his intentions to drop to light heavyweight after that bout, and hopefully the UFC is watching.
One potential hurdle for his return to the UFC is Monson’s perceived anarchist views and legal problems that have plagued him in the past. In January of 2009, he was arrested for Malicious Mischief for spray painting a peace symbol and anarchist symbol on the Washington State Capital. His involvement was discovered after ESPN magazine printed photographs of him completing the deed. He was sentenced to work release and a hefty restitution fine. A short time later, he was again arrested, this time for allegedly attacking a girlfriend and damaging items in her home. These actions, compiled with Monson’s openly anarchist and controversial political opinions (elimination of class system, etc.) may serve to scare off the UFC as a suitor. I really don’t see the relevance though, as many fighters currently on the UFC roster have had similar legal problems, some even to a much greater degree.
My opinion is that the Snowman is very controversial, but he more than makes up for that with ring presence and quality matches. He is currently one of the top fighters in the World who is not under contract with the UFC or Strikeforce. He has a huge fan following, has impressed as of late, and is committed to cutting the weight needed to drop to light heavyweight. With this in mind, it is truly time for the Snowman to make his triumphant return. If all goes well with his fight at the end of this month, it will mark nine straight impressive wins, and I find it hard to believe the UFC will not soon take notice. In recent years, Zuffa has made it a point to gobble up talent in order to establish total MMA dominance. There is no way that Jeff Monson could not compete at the highest level and the fans anxiously await his return.
If you look at the top ten light heavyweights in the UFC, it is hard to find one that has the ground and grappling skills of Monson. Although some fighters with similar styles make for boring bouts, Monson has the look and the charisma to keep the crowds interesting and is always game for a battle. The light heavyweights of the UFC had better keep watch as well, because very soon they could be staring into the stone cold eyes of “The Snowman” Jeff Monson.