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The Best Years of Our Lives – Travis Fulton Set to Face Jeff Monson in Florida Event

What do you do when you’re a fighter running out the string? You’re off the rosters of the big promotions – and likely for good – but you know how to do one thing, and working as a greeter at Walmart holds no serious commercial appeal.

If you’re Jeff Monson or Travis Fulton, you sign on with Fight Time Promotions and fight in a beer-and-a-movie-theater bout in Pompano Beach, Fla.

The Oct. 23 event features Monson and Fulton, both mainstays in MMA and fighters who certainly approach legendary status. Not necessarily for their performances, mind you, but for their dedication to the sport and their unwillingness to let the dream die.

Of that pair, the most interesting is certainly Fulton, a guy who has 254 MMA fights to his credit. You read that right, Fulton has entered the cage, in wars from Ekaterinburg, Russia to Tokyo to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 254 times against fighters of all stripe and ability.

“The Ironman” (and has there ever been a more appropriate nickname for any fighter in history?) has faced Ricco Rodriguez (twice), Travis Wiuff, Dan Severn (twice), Vladimir Matyushenko, Jeremy Horn, Renato Sobral, Forrest Griffin, Chris Tuchscherer, Mike Whitehead, Wes Sims and Ben Rothwell. He’s spent more time on the road than a long-haul trucker. He lost his first fight (on July 26, 1996) and his most recent fight (in May of this year to Ricco Rodriguez).

Over the course of his “career,” Fulton has been branded as a racist (and he’s provided his critics with a full rack of meat to back up that assertion), told he’s a maniac, and been roundly thrashed by some of the best in game.

“We’ve all got a shot at something in life,” Fulton said last year. “At 32, it’s kind of hard for me to find a new racket, and in this sport, I have kind of established name, so I just need to go for it.”

And go for it he does. He plays softball six nights a week and raises his kids in his hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa, and on certain nights, packs his gear and heads out of town to go toe-to-toe with any fighter lined up to take him on. In an interview a few years back, Fulton talked about his career and the perception that he is, in the common parlance, just a “tomato can,” a guy willing to take a small check to get his ass beat into buttermilk.

“The thing that sucks is that I dont get any credit for the guys that I’ve beaten,” Fulton said. “Pretty much every major victory that Ive had has been dismissed as a fluke. I beat Joe Riggs when he was 220 and ripped in 48 seconds, I beat Heath Herring… I have draws with Jeremy Horn, Dan Severn, Ikuhisa Minowa, Sanae Kikuta. I was ripped off in a win against Matt Lindland. He tapped out to an arm bar, and then said that he didn’t.”

Fulton’s list of “what if” moments doesn’t end there.

“I’ve given Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Matt Lindland, Vladimir Matyushenko, Travis Wiuff, Ben Rothwell, and Ian Freeman tough ass, ten-minute plus fights,” he said. ”

Monson was once a real contender for the UFC heavyweight title and comes off a win over Jason Guida in August. The 39-year-old Monson, at 37-11, is no fresh-faced rookie.

For him, fighting is more than just a paycheck, and his love of the sport extends to those inside the cage as well.

“There was one time when I was stuck in California for about 12 hours. I called one of my buddies; he said there’s a gym down the road, owned by Vladimir Matyushenko. And I never met this guy before,” Monson told Anton Gurevich. “When I came over, he was like ‘Hey, Jeff Monson.’ He took me to his house, took me to eat. I slept on his couch for a little bit. We hang out, and then he took me to the airport. And I never met this guy before.”

Monson keeps fighting because, well, he only knows one way.

“It’s the common solidarity between the fighters, which comes from the fact that we all respect the sport. That happened to me couple of times in Brazil,” Monson said. “Pedro Rizzo did this for me, he took care of me, and I never met him before. Then I ended up fighting him later. It’s just the way it is, you can fight someone, and then training with him the other way. It’s so cool. It’s a strange phenomenon.”

And it doesn’t come any stranger than a card featuring Jeff Monson and Travis Fulton as the headline event.

  • MCM says:

    I still think Monson can hang as a gate keeper in the UFC. He would also be a good name to add to the HW division in SF. I wouldn’t mind seeing him roll with Werdum and I was one of the guys calling for him to fight Fedor after Barnett F’d up Affliction 3.

    I’ve always wanted to know what an inshape Travis Fulton was capable of. There was talk of him joining the cast of TUF 10 and I know he said he would love to actually train in a gym with real coaches, cause he doesn’t do that apparently. I just wonder what his career would be like if he took fighting seriously and didn’t chase every dollar that was offered.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  • Dufresne says:

    I kinda wish they’d bring Monson back on the big stage somewhere. His grappling is on the elite level and the sheer physical power he brings makes him more than a handful for all but the top tier of MMA. His striking isn’t great, but he’s got enough technique and power to make it at least a factor you have to consider when training for him. I don’t think he’ll ever be a champ for a big organization, but as MCM already pointed out, he’d make a good gate keeper for either SF or UFC.
    Especially UFC these days, they’ve just about used up Gonzaga as of late. He’s still dangerous, but they can’t keep giving him a can to beat followed by a contender to hype.

    It would have been cool to see Fulton on TUF 10, but can you imagine someone showing up on the show with a record of 194-45-11? (I know that’s not his current record, but that’s what it would have been when the show started recording) Nelson was a huge favorite and considered a “veteran” fighter when he showed up with a record of 13-4.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • cocoonofhorror says:

    i think Monson would get murdered in the UFC these days.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5


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