*Author’s Note: This article is part of a series of pieces looking at underrated or overlooked fighters in the world of MMA. It might be a fighter known only to the hardcores, or maybe a fighter on a losing strea
k that has potential. Hopefully the pieces will start conversations about fighters that aren’t being discussed. Enjoy.
Continuing in our journey through the ranks of MMA’s lesser known talents, we take a look at Jason High. High is currently signed to a multi fight deal with Strikeforce, and fights in their Welterweight division. High is a perfect subject for this series; an underrated, and lesser known fighter with the potential to go far in the sport we love. In a Strikeforce welterweight division that lacks serious depth and clarity, High should be able to make a run to the top in the near future.
Jason splits his time training between HDMMA, a school he founded with fellow Kansas City native LC Davis, and as a member of the ever growing American Top Team. High is currently on an upswing, riding a six fight win steak. A quick look at High’s resume reveals an overlooked fighter with a solid record. While names like Todd Moore and Quinn Mulhern, his two most recent wins, may not be entrenched in the minds of general MMA fans, they do represent quality wins against talented opponents. Jason also holds a victory over another widely regarded prospect, Jordan Mein. High has fought one time for the UFC, losing a unanimous decision to Charlie Brenneman. Considered a head scratching move by many, High was cut after the loss, despite Brenneman being considered one of the UFC’s rising stars. Finally, what’s most likely considered his career highlight, High made it to the finals of the Dream Welterweight Grand Prix in 2009, before losing via a highlight reel head kick knock out to Marius Zaromskis.
If life was one of the old UFC video games, High’s attributes would read: Wrestler, Ground and Pound, and High Motor. Like many high level MMA fighters, High builds upon a wrestling base established in high school, and for the University of Nebraska, a Division One level wrestling program. Like his last name, his wrestling level is high, and his stamina is considered nearly limitless. Favoring rapid and relentless takedowns, Jason is known to fire off several attempts in a row, until taking his opponent down and pummeling him with ground and pound. While High is not on the same level striking wise as fellow Strikeforce welterweights Nate Marquardt or Paul Daley, his standup is more than sufficient and he has shown an willingness to stand and trade in the past. Though some might bring up the knockouts to Zaromskis and Jay Hieron as evidence of some type of glass chin, if you watch the videos of each, you would be hard pressed to name any fighter in any division that could stand after those shots. With elite level wrestling, and higher than average standup, High seems poised to breakout en route to the top of the Strikeforce Welterweight division.
It is expected that fellow ATT member Tyron Woodley will face Nate Marquardt for the vacant welterweight title at a Strikeforce event later this summer. After that matchup, there are very few marketable or deserving fighters in the division. Paul Daley is coming off a loss, and fought for the title fairly recently. Tarec Saffiedine is on a two fight win streak, but has lost to Woodley little over a year ago, so Saffiedine as a challenger would only make sense if Marquardt were to win the title. Assuming no influx of talent from outside the company, High would seem like a natural next opponent for Marquardt. Regardless of the outcome of his match with Woodley, Marquardt makes the most sense because as members of American Top Team, Woodley and High are unlikely to fight each other. Marquardt becomes the most logical opponent for High and would be a perfect litmus test for Jason. A win would certainly vault him into the minds of most MMA fans, and out of contention for this series.