Stoic Zaromskis guns for Strikeforce welterweight title
Measuring on the scale of difficult reads, Lithuanian welterweight
Saturday at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., Zaromskis could not make his American debut against a more emotionally disparate opponent than the other half of Strikeforce's vacant welterweight title main event, hot-blooded 26-year-old Californian
Described by FEG representative
"There's a lot of different personalities" in the fight game, said Zaromskis' manager
To his promoters' detriment perhaps, though as long as the 5-foot-9 fighter plasters opponents the way he has his last three, personality can certainly take a back seat to viral Internet highlights. Though Zaromskis enjoyed some success in the UK, where he worked as a construction worker after moving to London four years ago, it wasn't until he emerged in Japan that fans and media really took notice.
Simanaitis, who works closely with FEG to put Lithuanian kickboxers in K-1 Max events, pitched Zaromskis as Kogan scouted talent for Dream's 170-pound tournament. Executives in Japan were less than thrilled with tape they saw of Zaromskis, but deft maneuvering by Kogan eventually received a "put him in, let's see what happens" reaction from his bosses. Three impressive victories later, including two knockout-of-the-year contenders against
Training at London Shootfighters, home to infamous brawler
Against Diaz, a well-credentialed mixed martial artist and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, the powerful European must contend with an array of skills from a longer fighter with active hands -- the kind of body and style that troubled him in two losses to Brit
"Nick is a very well-rounded fighter," Zaromskis said. "He has strengths in both boxing and grappling, just all around. I think it's going to be a very tough fight for me. As far as how the fight will go or what I'll be able to do, I don't want to predict that. We'll just have to see it in the ring."
The focus in training camp has centered on takedown and submission defense, which because of his athleticism have improved at a rapid rate. Still, there is much to learn said Hathaway, "but if he can stop the fight from going to the ground at all, it's always going to be in his world and his favor."
Zaromskis' success in 2009 vaulted him into many top 10 rankings, including SI.com's, which lists him as the sport's eighth-best welterweight. Some argue that's too high, and questions persist about his ability to compete at the highest levels with a ground game that even he acknowledges needs work to compliment his explosiveness, improvisation, timing and calculated attacks.
"I pretty much do everything my trainers tell me to do," Zaromskis said. "If they say do more ground, I do more ground. If they say do more standup, I do more standup."
And, as always, he carries out orders with that same, cold facial expression, which for those around him can take some getting used to.
"I think that's just his demeanor," said Hathaway, who has worked with the Lithuanian for over a year. "It's what he does. Whenever you spar Marius you know you're in for a hard day and a war. It's always a tough session."