2016 has been a weird year for MMA. Ronda Rousey has suffered a mental breakdown, a barely trained former WWE professional wrestler got into the cage, Michael Bisping won the UFC middleweight champion, a whole bunch of fighters died and it was SUPER sad.
None of those stories have anything on what’s been going on with former UFC title contender Jeff Monson, though.
Now, you might not remember Jeff Monson. I can’t blame you. He’s a throwback among throwbacks, and his career actually pre-dates Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and dates all the way back to the original Semaphore Entertainment Group days of the UFC. He’s done a lot during his career, though. Here’s the abridged list of achievements:
- Former UFC heavyweight title challenger (fought Tim Sylvia in 2006 at UFC 65).
- Seven-fight UFC veteran (4-3 record).
- Has fought in UFC, Strikeforce, Pride and Dream.
- Has faced a number of major champions including Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Fedor Emelianenko, Ricco Rodriguez and Daniel Cormier.
- 19-year MMA veteran.
- Two-time gold medalist in ADCC Submission World Grappling Championships (five-time medalist).
- Three-time gold medalist in FILA grappling world championships.
- One-time IBJJF world champion.
Suffice it to say…he’s done a lot in combat sports over the years, and has been doing it for a VERY long time.
While he was a journeyman for much of his career, however, he has settled down a bit since facing Fedor Emelianenko at an M-1 event in 2011. Settled down in Russia, actually.
Since that fight, Monson has become a staple fighter of the Russian MMA circuit, fighting a whopping 30 times since 2012 (which probably isn’t healthy, given that he’s 45 years old today). He’s not just a staple fighter for the MMA circuit, though. He has, somehow, become the face of the Russian Communist Party in 2016.
So how did that happen?
Well, Monson has always been something of a…character. And not the good kind, necessarily. He was once arrested for vandalizing the Capitol Building in Washington DC, and once said “I am an anarchist, someone who would like to do away with all class hierarchy in society and the institutions that promote this inequality.”
When he suddenly became a breakout star in Russia for his spirited (but ineffective) performance against Fedor Emelianenko in 2011, he was approached by Vladimir Putin himself and would become a popular sports figure. From there, he was outspoken against the United States and actively promoted the Russian way of life, moving to Russia in a permanent way and obtaining citizenship in 2015.
With MMA spiking in popularity in Russia, and being especially popular among Russian youth, Monson has become a go-to mascot for the party. Russian politics is an odd thing, but Monson seems to be making the most of the opportunity.
Regardless about how you feel about communism there’s something to be said about Monson living a happy life over in Russia. Hopefully he doesn’t get randomly assassinated by any of Putin’s death squads, though!
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