In the main event of Friday night's "Strikeforce: Challengers 16" show, two attention-worthy prospects will do battle, as Caros Fodor and James Terry meet at a pivotal crossroads in their respective careers. Each lent exclusive commentary to Bloody Elbow on their upcoming collision, which is included in the analysis below.
Fodor has run through three straight opponents under the Strikeforce banner, his razor-sharp edge gleaming a little brighter with every fight. James Terry notched wins in five of his last six in Strikeforce, but the kicker is that all of those fights were in the welterweight division, and this will be his lightweight debut.
Both evolving rapidly under distinguished tutelage -- Fodor with Matt Hume and Terry with Cung Le -- the pair wield a force-field of high-pressure offense, but in different ways. Terry is a dynamic stand-up craftsman backed by powerful wrestling, while Fodor is a human grinding machine with no off-button.
Their similarly frenetic paces and aggressive styles all but guarantee a pleasingly violent encounter. Full analysis and fighter commentary after the jump.
James Terry has been shooting doubles and singles since age five, training in various martial arts since age eight, and eventually became a member of the respectable Arizona State University wrestling team. He bypassed the amateur circuit and went pro as a welterweight in 2006, smoldering through seven of eight adversaries to warrant a soiree with rising star Tarec Saffiedine at "Strikeforce: Challengers 6".
Saffiedine prevailed, but Terry showed a strong chin and a big heart. Ratcheting two more wins on the undercard of the Diaz vs. Cyborg and Noons events, then finishing Josh Thornburg on the Challengers 15 card, Terry fixed his scope on the lightweight class.
"This is my first cut to 155. I cut from 185, so it was tough, but I followed a great diet. I am walking around at 170 now and feel better then ever," Terry shared with me on Wednesday. "As a personal trainer, I am more knowledgeable about the science of how my body works and how to maximize my performance with nutrition and proper conditioning. I will be about 175 when I step in the cage."
After seeing James Terry's prowess on the feet, what makes him such an intriguing prospect is that he came up as a wrestler. Adept striking and the associated footwork is typically one of the most cumbersome areas for wrestlers to adjust to.
"I have been able to adapt to striking because I train with one of the best strikers in the world, Cung Le. I have an army of teammates that push me everyday. You learn to strike at Cung Le's AKA, or you die trying," Terry explained. "I have a strategy and you will see it Friday. I am going to set the pace and control this fight from every angle."
Caros "The Future" Fodor is a veteran of war and ended his military stint in 2007 as a Sergeant in the Marines. He was the Genesis Fights Muay Thai middleweight champion, and after losing his MMA debut, has won seven of eight bouts, finishing six. Tenacious is the best word to describe his relentless style, and I asked Caros if that was his strongest attribute.
"It is definitely one of my strongest attributes," he agreed. "I like to have my fights be a war of attrition cause it really breaks people down. I think another one of my strongest attributes is that I am very well rounded."
Since unsettling pressure alone can't win a fight, his wide-ranging arsenal of weapons is definitely the gunpowder in the cannon.
Fodor drenches his opponent with a frenzy of nonstop offense, cleanly transitioning from striking, to clinching, to lacing up submission attempts with positional dominance. His clinch game is unyielding; an amalgam of crisp knees to the midsection and dirty boxing, intertwined with wicked submission threats that Fodor rarely sacrifices position for.
Noticing that he alternated between the Thai plum and single collar-tie, I was curious which he preferred. "I've had good control with the single in the past," Fodor shared. "However, I love the double-tie because you can do a lot of damage. I'm gonna try and get that from now on."
Unlike a fluid guard-player, Fodor hunts for power-submissions that are snatched ruthlessly from dominant positions. With a style seemingly more akin to catch wrestling, I asked Caros if the roots of the AMC Pankration style were more catch-oriented than traditional BJJ.
"It could be considered more catch grappling. You know, I am not sure which one is better, if one even is. I like it more because it fits my game really well. There's not a lot of slow moving -- just fighting -- and if something sticks out, I jump on it and take it."
Caros laid out another element he's adopted from Matt Hume. "The mental attitude of trying to break your opponent no matter where the fight goes; no rest, and make them want to quit."
To the left, we witness one of James Terry's alarmingly fluent combinations. That's a -- count 'em with me -- three, four, five, no ... six-piece shellacking loosened with poetic head movement and deadly accuracy.
Though the opening left jab is more of a set-up than a major threat, it's just the beginning of the fun. He follows up with a heat-seeking straight right and left, then beautifully circles under the incoming counter left-hand before integrating an overhand right, then seamlessly flashes the left high kick, and closes with another right.
It really says something that describing just one combination takes multiple paragraphs, slo-motion, and near-run-on sentences to adequately describe.
This is where all the subtleties of striking shine through: the balance, footwork, head movement, speed, precision, and diversified creativity of techniques all come together in a whirlwind of offense. And remember: this is a guy with a wrestling background.
To the right is a good example of the pressure-cooker Caros Fodor forces his opponents into. First, we see his affinity for damage in the clinch, as Fodor snatches the single collar-tie and bombs heavy knees to the sternum.
As soon as his opponent changes levels to grab one of the volleying knees for a takedown, Fodor immediately encircles the neck with a rigid guillotine; a technique accounting for half of his submission victories.
Normally, dropping for a guillotine is a high risk maneuver because you give up position if it's escaped. Here, the signature style of Caros Fodor comes through as he wrenches the guillotine and simultaneously hits the sweep to take top-position, but most importantly, maintains the hold in the process. He's a prime example of a fighter that maximizes submission attempts and positional dominance together instead of settling for one or the other.
Finally, both fighters chimed in with their assessment of the other's game.
"He has pretty good stand up and is a wrestler," Fodor observed. "I think he is dangerous because he can mix it up well. I am not sure if my style is the greatest match up for him, but we will see in just a few days."
Terry responded on Fodor: "He is a great grappler and heavy-handed striker. I think it's going to be a war and the more mentally tough fighter who sticks to their game plan is going to win."
Caros Fodor and James Terry are two bright stars that show marked improvement in every outing. Though neither hold a perfect record, they've each gone back to the drawing board, identified areas of improvement, and pursued them rigorously with an elite training regimen to come back stronger. That's the name of the game to succeed in the long run.
Terry's wrestling credentials and top-shelf striking should be a complex challenge for Fodor -- or any lightweight-- to deal with. As both a wrestler and a personal trainer, he has a great chance of retaining and enforcing his abilities with an efficient weight cut. He was already a beast at welterweight ... and this is a full fifteen pounds lower.
I would give him a slight edge in what should be a can't-miss showdown between two promising up-and-comers.
Caros Fodor wished to thank: Univsallembassy.com, Toyota of Bellevue, and Cobalt Mortgage Company
James Terry wished to thank: Celi Group Realty, Key Chiropractic, BR Flooring, Score Clinic, Chris Shelton and Vision Quest Spine and Sport.