By Kelsey Mowatt FCFighter.com
Mainstream fans may remember Joseph Henle for his participation in the eleventh season of “The TUF Reality Show ,” but more recently the man nicknamed “Leonidas” has been making an impact outside the Octagon. Not only has Henle gone undefeated in six straight fights, but the 29 year-old vet is now one win away from adding the Maximum Fighting Championship’s middleweight title to his resume.
“I’m excited to fight for it,” said Henle, who will take on Elvis Mutapcic at the promotion’s upcoming October 26th event in Edmonton, Alberta, for the middleweight belt. “I’m excited to be their champion. I’m really excited about the test; fighting Elvis. I think he’s the best opponent I’ve fought to date so I’m really looking forward to that.”
Of course, winning the MFC title live on AXS TV would certainly mark a huge step toward.
“To be honest, I can’t look that far forward,” said Henle, while discussing what doors may open provided he wins the MFC belt. “I was very happy, and really excited when we signed with the MFC, they’ve taken really good care of us. There’s been no downside whatsoever with the MFC.”
“Like I always tell people, the UFC is like an invite only party; it’s one of those things where you have to know somebody who knows somebody,” Henle added. “They have somebody who got hurt, and they were talking to your manager or coach already, and you already had this in. It’s weird, how sometimes unless you’re a world beater in their eyes, you have to be invited into that private club…I’m happy where I’m at right now in my career, and I’m probably making pretty good money for where I am compared to a lot of guys.”
Henle (8-0) is set to fight for the middleweight belt as a result of his first round stoppage win over noted Canadian vet Luke Harris. At MFC 34 in August, Henle became the first man in ten bouts to defeat Harris, who holds a black belt in Judo and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“I knew if we hit the ground we’d definitely be in a struggle, but watching his film, you see him standing and it wasn’t a fight that we were afraid of,” said Henle. “I really felt like I was going to be the victor in that one.”
That same night, Mutapcic (11-2) also entrenched his title shot with an impressive win, as the middleweight scored a first round, TKO win over Jacen Flynn.
“From the few videos that I’ve watched, he’s had a lot of his fights in the midwest so there’s not a lot on Youtube, but he’s definitely got power,” Henle told Full Contact Fighter. “A few years ago he knocked out the kid who won TUF Brasil. The kid got too close and Elvis launched two hooks and the kid was out.”
“You know he’s got power and he’s definitely flexible with his kicks,” Henle furthered about his 26 year-old opponent. “He can go to the body and he can go to the head. He showed that in his Flynn fight by kicking upside the head within the first two minutes…He seems like a really strong fighter. He has like four submission victories, couple of knockouts, and I don’t think he’s been to a decision. Any decision he’s been to was a loss. I think he wants to be a finisher and I’m the same way.”
So as a result, Henle doesn’t believe fans in attendance at the Mayfield Trade Centre will be witnessing a five round championship fight.
“I don’t see us getting out of the fourth round at the latest,” said Henle. “I think one of us is really going to try to hurt the other guy by then. A lot of people sometimes clam up in title fights but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. It’s going to be one of those things where it’s worth the risk of getting a little close, to get that spectacular finish that we’re both looking for.”