KEARNEY, Nebraska — Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) announced over the weekend that former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice "Mo" Smith will be making another comeback to MMA, the sport he helped pioneer during the 1990's. His return is scheduled for Friday, March 30th, 2012 at RFA 2 - Yvel vs. Alexander.
Smith won his MMA debut in Japan just fours days before the UFC held their first show in November 1993. He eventually made his UFC debut at UFC 14 in July 1997, where he was considered a heavy underdog against the first-ever UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman. Smith went on to defeat the "Godfather of Ground n' Pound" and future UFC Hall of Famer in an epic battle to capture the UFC heavyweight title. This marked the first time someone from a predominantly striking background was able to defeat someone from a predominantly grappling background.
Smith is also noted for his close relationship with Frank Shamrock and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, whom he had befriended during their early days fighting in Japan. The three men are credited with forming MMA's first super-team dubbed "The Alliance". Smith's kickboxing prowess, Shamrock's submission grappling acumen, and Kohsaka's TK guard were thus instilled upon each other, emphasizing the importance of cross-training in multiple disciplines, which is now the backbone training methodology in the sport.
Smith is also credited as being one of the first men to successfully compete in the UFC, PRIDE, and K-1, which set the table for future fighters like Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Mark Hunt, and Alistair Overeem to do the same.
Unlike Smith's first comeback that lasted from 2007-2008, where Smith faced other aging iconic fighters such as Marco Ruas, Rick Roufus, and Hidehiko Yohsida in the IFL, Strikeforce, and Sengoku promotions, the 50-year-old Smith is now set to drop to light-heavyweight to fight a man nearly half his age.
His opponent will be Kyle "The Kodiak" Keeney, who just turned 29-years-old last month. Keeney, like Smith, is a native of Washington state. He has also won 6 of his last 9 bouts. Keeney states that his favorite quote is "with great risk comes great reward" and that sentiment holds true, as he is now set to fight one of the true legends of the sport.
RFA 2 - Yvel vs. Alexander will be headlined with a light-heavyweight clash between Gilbert "The Hurricane" Yvel and Houston "The Assassin" Alexander, two of the most feared strikers in the world. It will take place inside the 5,000-seat Viaero Event Center in Kearney, Nebraska. The town is conveniently located in an MMA hotbed between Omaha, Nebraska (where the UFC had a show last week) and Denver, Colorado (where the UFC had a show in September). RFA 1 in December was made available on web PPV for $9.99 at www.KearneyEvents.com. We will keep you posted if there are any changes to where these fights will broadcast.