Every week, Combat Press takes a look at three regional, developmental or international cards from the upcoming weekend, previewing from each a single fight to which people should pay close attention. We will also list other significant bouts from the card, as well as information on how to follow each promotion and watch the events.
Let’s discover those prospects that fight in the obscurity of the regional, developmental and international circuits, waiting for their shot at the bright lights and big stage of the UFC, and those veterans looking for one more chance at stardom. It all begins here, in the small convention centers and high school gymnasiums. It all begins with promotions such as these…
Event Date: Sept. 26
Watch Event: AXS TV
Myron Dennis (10-3) vs. Leonardo Leite (4-0)
After recent stops in New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi, Legacy Fighting Championship continues its exploration of territories outside of Texas with a visit to its neighbor to the north, Oklahoma. The promotion touches down in Tulsa for its 35th offering, which features the first light heavyweight title defense by reigning champion Myron Dennis. Dennis puts the belt on the line a Leonardo Leite.
After a four-year run spent almost entirely under the Xtreme Fighting League banner, Dennis debuted in Legacy in March. Lined up opposite UFC and Strikeforce veteran Paul Buentello, Dennis, the former XFL light heavyweight champion, immediately fought for the gold. The 25-year-old was a football player in high school and college. He doesn’t have a lengthy combat sports background, instead getting into kickboxing and other martial arts as a way to work out and stay in shape after he stopped playing football. Although the bulk of his career has been spent with the XFL, Dennis did compete once for Bellator, suffering his first career loss via knockout against Raphael Davis. Dennis has two other losses, including a decision defeat against recent The Ultimate Fighter winner Corey Anderson.
Leite is not just any 4-0 prospect. “Leo” is a highly decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and two-time BJJ world champion. The 36-year-old’s resume doesn’t end there. He also has a trophy case full of championships in the world of judo. The Alliance Rio de Janeiro academy and Brazilian Top Team product didn’t make his pro MMA debut until 2013, approximately 13 years after he last claimed a BJJ world championship. Leite has submitted two of his opponents and topped the remaining two on the scorecards. The current combined record of his opponents stands at 6-10.
Leite is a lethal threat on the mat, especially for someone like Dennis, who prefers to strike and hasn’t had decades of judo and BJJ experience. If this fight does find its way to the ground, Dennis could be in big trouble. Yet, Leite’s problem lies in finding a way to bring Dennis into his world. With the Brazilian’s judo background, one would expect plenty of throws and hardly any hardship in introducing opponents to the canvas. However, Leite doesn’t tend to blend his judo into MMA very well. He struggled to take down Fabio Marongiu, a fighter who now sits at 2-5 in his professional career and had two submission losses on his resume when he entered the cage with the world champion BJJ player.
Leite is going to try, but fail, to get this fight to the ground. There will be plenty of grinding clinch work against the fence, but Dennis will find ways to create separation and score with big punches. Leite typically only uses his striking as a way to close distance and tie up his nemesis, and he won’t be prepared to stand with Dennis. As Dennis gets more comfortable and confident, his offense will start scoring more points. The champ is headed for either a late TKO victory or a nod from the judges.
Other key bouts: Andrew Todhunter (6-0) vs. Levi Avera (18-14), Daniel Roberts (15-5) vs. Derrick Krantz (15-8), James Warren (5-1) vs. Jesse Chaffin (5-2), Justin Rader (2-0) vs. Hector Arteaga (1-0)
Event Date: Sept. 26
Watch Event: CBS Sports Network
Jason Brilz (22-5-1) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (11-7)
Legacy isn’t the only promotion with light heavyweight gold on the line this weekend. Titan FC is prepared to crown its own 205-pound champion. The men vying for the crown have both seen stints in the UFC, but they failed to capitalize on those opportunities. Now, Jason Brilz and Vinny Magalhaes seek to climb back into the spotlight when they clash for the Titan belt.
Brilz has a background in wrestling. The 39-year-old has made use of those skills to notch nine submission victories, six wins by some form of knockout and seven victories on the scorecards. The Premier Combat Center product is a full-time firefighter and an assistant coach for an NCAA Division II wrestling program that has picked up back-to-back national championships. “The Hitman” made his pro debut in 2000 and put up a 15-1-1 mark before receiving an invitation to compete in the UFC. He won his first two Octagon appearances, but then went 1-4 over his next five UFC fights. He was released by the UFC after his loss to Ryan Bader in 2011. Brilz returned to action a year later and has racked up four wins on his current streak, including a split decision victory over Raphael Davis in Brilz’s Titan debut.
Magalhaes has also collided with Bader and Davis, and the outcomes were not pretty. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, ADCC champion and BJJ world champion made his pro debut in 2006 and was 2-1 with one no-contest when he met Davis in 2008. Davis was able to submit the Brazilian in the second round. Magalhaes proceeded to enter The Ultimate Fighter 8, where he advanced to the finals and a meeting with Bader. Bader needed less than half a round to score the TKO finish. The TUF 8 runner-up lost his next UFC outing and was jettisoned from the promotion. He put together a decent run on the international and regional circuits, going 7-1 and claiming M-1 gold in the process. He was invited back to the UFC in 2012, but he lost two of his three fights with the organization and was released once again. He returned to the regional circuit in July with a submission win over Jorge Gonzales under the Xtreme Kombat banner. The 30-year-old has two wins by some form of knockout, but he is much more accomplished on the ground, where he has submitted nine of his opponents.
At age 39, Brilz is likely staring down his last run at glory. Magalhaes may be nearly a decade younger, but he’s already running out of chances to put it all together. This pair of fighters has the ability to beat almost anyone outside the UFC, but they both stumble when matched with UFC-level foes. Brilz has the better overall track record, boasting wins over the likes of Tim Boetsch, Eric Schafer and Jason MacDonald, whereas Magalhaes can’t claim much beyond victories over Mikhail Zayats and Igor Pokrajac.
Magalhaes has suffered huge losses against Bader and Anthony Perosh, but he has gone the distance in losing efforts against wrestlers like Phil Davis and grapplers like Eliot Marshall. His chin has to be a huge concern in this fight, and his ability to put Brilz in his world and get the submission is also far from a guarantee. Brilz has similar issues, with quick knockout losses to Bader and Vladimir Matyushenko and split decision defeats versus the aforementioned Marshall and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The difference is that Brilz has the heavy hands to bring an early close to the night for Magalhaes.
This is a closely matched fight, though. Magalhaes has been known to pull off a TKO victory on occasion and could test Brilz’s chin just enough to bring the fight to the mat, where he can finish it. Brilz has the wrestling to avoid Magalhaes’s takedown attempts, however, and if he can avoid getting clipped, he probably has the upper hand. Magalhaes has had a wildly inconsistent career. He had a strong run in M-1, but take away those four wins and we’re talking about a fighter with a .500 record. Brilz hasn’t shown his power since 2012, instead notching a majority decision, a unanimous verdict and a split decision over his last three fights. This fight is probably headed to the judges, and it’ll be another razor-thin verdict for Brilz.
Other key bouts: Anthony Gutierrez (5-0) vs. Walel Watson (12-7), Iliarde Santos (27-9-1) vs. Cody Williams (7-5), Gleristone Santos (26-4) vs. Robert Washington (18-8), Todd Moore (16-6) vs. Danny Salinas (12-6), Darrill Schoonover (13-6) vs. Aaron Rosa (17-6), Pedro Nobre (16-1-2) vs. Nick Mamalis (24-10), Richie Martinez (3-0) vs. Le’Ville Simpson (4-1)
Event Date: Sept. 27
Watch Event: Rede TV! in Brazil and live stream worldwide at xfcmma.com
Debora Ferreira (3-0) vs. Julia Borisova (3-0)
The XFC’s prospects for hosting shows in the United States seem to be drying up, but the promotion is still putting together strong lineups on the regional circuit in Brazil. For its sixth show, XFC International has gathered a number of male bantamweights and female flyweights to support a card topped by a featherweight title tilt between Waylon Lowe and Deivison Ribeiro and the women’s strawweight tournament finals bout between Vanessa Guimaraes and Vanessa Melo. Although those two headlining affairs, it’s the women’s flyweight tournament that really stands out on this card. With the women’s flyweight division suffering from a number of ladies departing to compete at either bantamweight or strawweight in hopes of reaching the UFC, XFCi could provide a much-needed injection of talent. The tournament features three undefeated ladies, including a pair—Debora Ferreira and Julia Borisova—who will meet in the quarterfinal round.
The 29-year-old Borisova has posted three victories on her unblemished resume, but there are a number of significant factors weighing against her as she enters this bout and the tournament as a whole. The Russian fighter made her pro debut in 2007, but she didn’t fight again until early 2010. After her sophomore effort, she was inactive for more than a year before returning in mid-2011. And since her 2011 victory, she’s been on yet another extended layoff. She’s been trying to make her return since 2013, but things have not worked out for her so far. Borisova’s first two opponents now hold a combined 0-5 record, but her most recent win, a split decision over Jin Tang, adds a credible opponent to her resume. The Rusfighters Sport Club product has gone to a decision on two occasions in her limited pro career, but her other fight ended in a first-round TKO finish. She tends to exhibit a Muay Thai style in her fights, utilizing clinch work and throwing knees to the body, but she also has a strong ground-and-pound attack. Borisova has also competed once as a pro boxer, scoring a first-round knockout over her fellow debuting opponent.
The 21-year-old Ferreira is one of the biggest prospects in the bracket, perhaps overshadowed only by Taila Santos. The Klin Team product also tends to stand and bang, though her high output has allowed her to pick up more finishes than her Russian counterpart. Ferreira debuted in December 2013 with an impressive display of high-volume precision striking to put away her opponent in the first round. She returned to action in March 2014 and again in May, notching similar outcomes. Ferreira’s opponents stand with a current combined record of 3-7, leaving the Brazilian with much to prove as well.
Borisova’s long stretches of inactivity and her inability to finish fights could be major concerns as she enters into this bout against a proven finisher. Ferreira fights long, striking with stunning accuracy even as she backs up to avoid a charging opponent. Borisova’s timid style will only get her in trouble as the fight goes on. She won’t have an easy time getting Ferreira to the mat, and she’ll eat the heavier knees in the clinch. Although the Russian played spoiler against Tang, she can’t be expected to do the same against Ferreira. Ferreira’s striking will be too much for Borisova, who will fall via a TKO midway through the contest.
Other key bouts: Waylon Lowe (14-5) vs. Deivison Ribeiro (25-9) for the featherweight title, Vanessa Guimaraes (3-2) vs. Vanessa Melo (3-2) in the women’s strawweight tournament finals, Alejandro Abomohor (4-1) vs. Luan Gazetta (4-1) in the bantamweight tournament quarterfinals, Rachael Cummins (2-1) vs. Taila Santos (3-0) in the women’s flyweight tournament quarterfinals, Karina Rodriguez (3-1) vs. Poliana Botelho (2-1) in the women’s flyweight tournament quarterfinals, Lerryan Douglas (4-0) vs. Daniel Virginio Da Silva (0-0) in the bantamweight tournament quarterfinals, James David Gray Jr. (2-0) vs. Lucas Moraes (5-1) in the bantamweight tournament quarterfinals, Vuokko Katainen (2-1-1) vs. Silvaneide Pereira (2-1) in the women’s flyweight tournament quarterfinals, Marcelo Barreira (12-2) vs. Alfredo Morales (12-4)