XFC Lightweight Champ John Mahlow Agrees to Battle Rising Star Rafaello Oliveira at XFC 8: “Regional Conflict”

I just received the following Press Release from the XFC, announcing a catchweight match-up between XFC Lightweight Champion John Mahlow and up-and-comer Rafaello Oliveira. Normally I would just post the press release, but I wanted to point out that Mahlow previously mentioned this match-up as a possibility in my interview with him after XFC 7 where Mahlow served as a commentator.

Check after the jump for the full Press Release.

From the press release:

Knoxville, TN (4/6/09): The XFC announced today that lightweight world champion John “The Mulatto Mauler” Mahlow will battle fast-rising Brazilian prospect Rafaello “The Tractor” Oliveira at XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” on Saturday, April 25, at the 21 thousand-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee. The event will be televised live nationwide, exclusively on HDNet.

Instead of fighting at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds, the two men agreed to a “catchweight” of 160 pounds. If Oliveira wins, he’s guaranteed an immediate rematch against Mahlow for the XFC lightweight world title.

Considered one of MMA’s most tenacious tacticians, Mahlow’s high-energy offensive assault and smothering ground game has propelled the American Top Team fighter and trainer to the cusp of stardom. Since losing a tightly-contested split decision to WEC title contender Jeff Curran in May of 2007, Mahlow has gone 5-1, including 2-0 in the XFC. In his last three fights, Mahlow has defeated Eben “The Big O” Oroz, stopped UFC’s “Fight Night 13” veteran Ryan Roberts, and submitted Belator’s Luis Palomino in the fifth and final round of their XFC championship bout in December. Mahlow’s victory over Palomino attracted a particularly high level of media interest, especially after ex-UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Nogueira publicly declared Palomino to be his “personal protégé” and a future world champion.

“I might be the reigning XFC lightweight champion, but I still train every single day like I’m the underdog,” explained John Mahlow from his Ft. Lauderdale, Florida training camp. “That’s the attitude that earned me this title – and the attitude that’ll let me keep it for a long time to come. Both inside and outside the cage, I’ll outwork you. I’ll train harder. I’m willing to absorb more punishment than you. And I understand the intricacies of the sport better than almost anyone else ‘cause I spend more time studying the sport than almost anyone else. Oliveira is a dangerous opponent, but I’ve reached the point in my career where I’m legitimately one of the elite fighters in the game, and I can’t wait to show MMA fans from coast-to-coast what ‘The Mulatto Mauler’ is all about.”

The Brazilian-born Rafaello Oliveira (7-1) made his XFC debut at XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox” on February 20, submitting Robert Thompson via triangle choke 4:50 in the first round; Thompson was 5-0 at the time. His one career loss was the byproduct of a doctor’s stoppage (cuts) on the undercard of the “ShoXC Elite Challenger Series” on Showtime in October of 2008. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu [BJJ] black belt now fighting out of Premier Martial Arts in Knoxville, Tennessee, Oliveira also trains one-on-one with UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn in Hawaii, serving as Penn’s sparring partner for his past three title fights.

“John Mahlow is a great champion and a good guy,” said Oliveira. “I respect him and thank him for this opportunity. But as much as I respect him, I also think I’m the better fighter. I’m faster, stronger and hungrier – and if John’s strategy is to outwork me, he’s going to be in a lot of trouble because I’m already in peak physical condition. If his strategy is to trick me, that won’t work either – because after sparring a few thousand rounds with B.J. Penn, I’m ready for anything. The way I see it, I’m now only two fights away from becoming the next XFC lightweight world champion. John had a good run, but April 25 will be Rafaello Oliveira’s official coming out party.”

Mahlow sat cageside for Oliveira’s victory over Thompson, handling color commentating duties for the XFC broadcast. He remembers being deeply impressed with Oliveira’s strength, athleticism and BJJ – but steadfastly claims that he was by no means intimidated.

“Oliveira has a lot of natural athletic gifts and an unusually high ceiling as a prospect, but he’s not a student of the game like I am,” Mahlow said. “And I’m betting that my capacity for absorbing punishment is greater than his ability to inflict it. Mahlow versus Oliveira is gonna be like two racecars smashing into each other at full speed. Yeah, I’m gonna get hurt in the collision, but he’s gonna get hurt real bad, too. And when we reach the second-half of the fight, I’m gonna take him to the deep end of the pool and drown him.”

XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” features the fastest-rising young prospects and top emerging superstars from Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina in a series of contender-versus-contender cage fights. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat's Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.


About Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC): Xtreme Fighting Championships – better known to MMA fight fans worldwide as the XFC – is the Southeast’s leading independent MMA promotion, and stages the largest live shows in the entire sport this side of the UFC. Dedicated to launching the careers of the MMA superstars of tomorrow, the XFC’s next mega-event, XFC 8: “Regional Conflict,” takes place on April 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will be broadcast live on national television, exclusively on HDNet. For more information about the XFC, please visit www.mmaxfc.com.

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