What (most of us) know him for: Wait, you don’t recognize this guy? It’s probably because the last time anyone saw his face it was being planted on the canvas compliments of Yahir Reyes incredible spinning backfist. Payan’s loss at Bellator Fighting Championships 6 would go down as the ESPN’s Knockout of the Year for 2009 and, along with Toby Imada‘s Submission of the Year, would open the floodgates for the rise of Bellator into the mainstream.
What he’s been up to: Payan followed up the BFC 6 defeat with a second round TKO loss to WEC veteran Karen Darabedyan at Shark Fights 6. The Arizona Combat Sports fighter has since gone 4-0 with 1 no contest since, compiling a very respectable record of 11-3 overall. Not bad for someone who has been training MMA for only a few years now. Fun Fact, he earned his nickname, “El Terrible” due to his ferocious sparring habit during training sessions that would lead even heavyweights to brawl with him as a result.
Where he is now: After three tours in Iraq and the death of his younger brother, Reyes has been an inspiration to the members of his family that have seen poverty and drug abuse upend them. He is coming off back-to-back knockout victories over Joe Nicholas and Nick Rhoads, respectively.
What (most of us) know him for: Being one of the many early entries in Jens Pulver‘s highlight reel.
What he’s been up to: In John Lewis’ case, I feel as if I should discuss where he was before the knockout that earned him his fame, as it is just as interesting. For instance, did you know that Lewis was apparently the fourth American in the entire world to receive a black belt in BJJ, or that he competed in the first 2 ADCC trials? Gotta love those Wikifacts. And even more better, did you know Lewis was the very first person to train under “Judo” Gene Lebell all the way from white to black belt? Talk about some qualifications; he trained with the man that
kicked Steven Seagal’s ass once resolved a resolution with Steven Seagal without casually getting his ass kicked.
Where he is now: Though the Pulver fight would be his last MMA contest, Lewis has actually become a world renowned trainer in the sport, shaping world class fighters in their prime like Chuck Lidell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Rico Rodriguez, B.J. Penn, and Frank Trigg to name a few. Lewis is perhaps best known for introducing most of those fighters to Dana White and the Fertitta brothers, who he gave private Jiu-Jistu lessons to back in the 90′s, and in fact helped spur their interest in purchasing the UFC in the first place. I all actuality, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Lewis, a debt that is unfortunately overshadowed by one of “Lil’ Evil’s” best knockouts. Here’s to you, John.