Every fight in the young career of 22-year-old Yancy Medeiros provides a bigger opportunity.
As long as a fighter stays undefeated, his chance at achieving stardom in mixed martial arts grows exponentially.
STRIKEFORCE: SAN JOSE
» Scott Smith (17-6, 1 NC) vs. Cung Le (6-1)
» Jan Finney (8-7) vs. Christine "Cyborg" Santos (9-1)
» Josh Thomson (16-3, 1 NC) vs. Pat Healy (23-15)
» Yancy Medeiros (4-0) vs. Gareth Joseph (4-2)
An undefeated career in Hawaii earned him a shot to compete in the only MMA organization with a network television deal.
A win over Raul Castillo in his StrikeForce debut opened the door for Medeiros to step into the cage tonight at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., with the entire MMA world watching.
Medeiros (4-0) will fight on the StrikeForce/M-1 Global undercard against late replacement Gareth Joseph (4-2), sharing the stage with legends of the sport, including Fedor Emelianenko, who headlines the event against Fabricio Werdum.
The card will be televised on Showtime, delayed in Hawaii at 7 p.m. Medeiros’ preliminary fight, contested at 185 pounds, will be streamed live on the Internet beginning at 2 p.m.
"I’m almost more excited to get my fight done and then see Fedor," Medeiros joked over the phone Thursday night. "This is one of the biggest cards StrikeForce has ever done. You’ve got Fedor, Cung Le, Scott Smith, Josh Thomson, all the big names, and to be fighting on it is (great)."
Medeiros was an Oahu Interscholastic Association wrestling champion at Waianae, winning the 189-pound title in 2005. Two years later, Medeiros had ballooned to 245 pounds when he decided it was time to get in shape.
MMA had begun to replace wrestling as the up-and-coming combat sport by then, and Medeiros decided to give it a try.
"Mixed martial arts was the closest thing to wrestling, so I just started training as a way to lose weight," Medeiros said. "Eventually I got my first fight and now I’m into it 100 percent and always fighting."
After winning his first four amateur fights, Medeiros made waves in his first professional bout, defeating Poai Suganuma by TKO.
He racked up two more wins before making his StrikeForce debut against Castillo in February, and won a convincing unanimous decision in his first televised fight.
"The more people watching, the more excited you are to go out there and put on a show," Medeiros said.
His performance not only impressed StrikeForce, but caught the eye of the Cesar Gracie camp, which is home to prominent MMA fighters Nick and Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields.
Medeiros spent close to six weeks living and training with the team, working heavily on his ground game.
However, the most important thing he learned was his preparation outside of the cage.
"The one thing they really taught me is how to eat right and treat your body like a temple," said Medeiros, who cut all meat out of his diet. "My body is what is going to help me provide for me and my family, and I have to take great care of it."
In the cage, he has combined his training at Cesar Gracie Academy in Northern California with the normal routine he goes through with coaches Doug Amaral and Darren Torres here at home.
"Without them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at," Medeiros said.
Joseph is the third opponent Medeiros has had in the last week after his original opponent from Russia failed to get a visa in time.
It’s an inconvenience that Medeiros doesn’t expect will have any bearing on the outcome of tonight’s fight.
"The good thing is the style of (all three opponents) is the same, so I pretty much have the same game plan for all of them," Medeiros said. "I’m not taking my opponent lightly, but I’m confident and feel like I can win this."
The televised portion of the Showtime card features a women’s title fight between champion Christine "Cyborg" Santos and Jan Finney. Le and Smith will battle in a rematch of a fight last year that Smith won by knockout in the third round, and Thomson will open the show in a lightweight contest against Pat Healy.
Emelianenko (31-1, 1 NC) puts his 27-fight, nine-year undefeated streak on the line against Werdum (13-4-1), a two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, in the main event.
The winner is expected to fight StrikeForce heavyweight champion Allistar Overeem next.