Jason High Not Out to Prove UFC Wrong, Focused on Todd Moore
By Kelsey Mowatt
It’s taken less than 18 months for Jason High to reassert his presence in the welterweight division, as heading into his upcoming September 23rd Strikeforce bout with Todd Moore, “The Kansas City Bandit” has won five straight since he was dismissed by the UFC. By scoring wins over noteworthy opponents like highly regarded prospect Jordan Mein and the accomplished Hayato Sakurai, High made his way back to the Zuffa fold in June and defeated Quinn Mulhern. According to High, earning the Strikeforce win was extremely important, but not because he wanted to send Zuffa officials any message.
“No, not at all; I’m not bitter at the UFC for cutting me,” said High, who was let go by the UFC after one bout with the promotion, a unanimous decision loss to Charlie Brenneman in March, 2010.
“At that point I had lost two in a row,” added the 29 year-old-fighter, who signed with the UFC after earning victories over Yuya Shira and Andrei Galvao in DREAM’s welterweight grand-prix, before getting knocked out by Marius Zaromskis. “A lot of people don’t get to come into the UFC off a loss and I wasn’t able to win that fight. It was more of a business decision and I’m not offended.”
In Mulhern, High not only defeated the former King of the Cage welterweight champ, but he became just the second man to defeat the noted jiu-jitsu practitioner in 17 pro fights. While High utilized his wrestling skills to repeatedly take Mulhern down and negate the welterweight’s submission attempts, some fans in attendance did not care for the performance that earned him the unanimous decision win.
“I could have knocked him out in under two minutes and someone would have still been bitching,” High told FCF. “People want to look at MMA through a kickboxing lens all the time; it’s not kickboxing….I’m going to take the fight where I think I have the advantage, and as the fight wore on he wasn’t threatening me at all in what’s supposed to be his specialty area.”
Up next, High will take on the 14-4 Moore, who is coming off a unanimous decision win over Mike Bronzoulis at Strikeforce’s June 18th event. The WEC vet has gone 4-1 in his last five bouts, with Moore’s only loss during that stretch coming against fellow Strikeforce competitor Brian Melancon.
“He’s one of those guys that’s decent everywhere but doesn’t really shine anywhere,” said High, who is preparing for the bout with American Top Team. “He doesn’t really have a specialty but I think he’s tough everywhere…my last fight was with a guy who is a bit of a specialist, but this is going to be a little bit different.”
“I think I’ll be the better wrestler when we get in the cage,” High added while discussing Moore’s wrestling. “I think I’ll be able to take the fight where I want it to go. It’s nice to have that option.”
Although much of the speculation surrounding Strikeforce lately has been tied to whether or not the promotion will be merged into the UFC sometime next year, if the promotion does continue operations, it will be interesting to see how the welterweight title picture shapes up. While Tyron Woodley is the consensus favorite to compete for the promotion’s vacant belt, who will be the undefeated fighter’s opponent appears less certain.
“I feel like there’s a lot of good guys to fight in my division right now,” said High. “There’s “Cyborg” (Evangelista Santos), Jordan Mein just signed, Tarec Saffiedine, there’s a lot of guys to fight…but you hear conflicting things every day; once the Showtime deal is done it will be up to Zuffa as to where Strikeforce goes.”
“I’m just trying to put together solid performances and get better each fight and that kind of stuff will work itself out,” noted High, when asked if defeating Moore might position himself at the top of Strikeforce’s welterweight depth chart. “If you look to far ahead you can lose sight of what’s directly in front of you.”