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: May 30
Josh Hill (10-1) vs. Josh Rettinghouse (10-3)
The Ontario-based Global Warriors Fighting Championship is back with its second offering, which comes nearly four years after its first event. The card features a healthy dose of prospects, including a pair of World Series of Fighting veterans who could be making a case for another title run with the WSOF. Those fighters are bantamweights Josh Hill, who appeared on the first Global Warriors card in 2011, and Josh Rettinghouse.
Hill came up short in a recent bid to snatch the WSOF crown from Marlon Moraes. The “Gentleman” went five rounds with Moraes, but Moraes walked away with the unanimous nod and the belt. The 28-year-old Hill’s other career highlight was his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 18 as a member of Miesha Tate’s team. Hill used his smothering wrestling to grind out a two-round majority decision over Patrick Holohan in the preliminary fights, but he couldn’t conquer Michael Wootten in the elimination round. Hill was able to rock Moraes in their title fight and he has scored three finishes via strikes, but he’s not typically a finisher. Instead, he relies on his wrestling to grind out opponents. He has scored six of his victories by way of decision.
Hill might not be much of a finisher, but his opponent, Rettinghouse, has even earned the nickname of “The Finisher.” It suits the 25-year-old perfectly. Rettinghouse, who also came up short in a title tilt against the aforementioned Moraes, has stopped two opponents with strikes and six via submission. Only three of his fights have gone the distance, and he won two of those affairs. The BJJ Spokane product excels on the mat, but he has also been handed two submission losses since turning pro in 2011. Rettinghouse is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt and wrestled in high school. He holds a decision victory over Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Alexis Vila under the WSOF banner.
Both of these men are coming off losses to Moraes in which they battled the WSOF champ for a full 25 minutes. Rettinghouse has been inactive for more than a year since his loss to the Brazilian, whereas Hill is seeking to rebound just a little over three months after his defeat.
Rettinghouse is a slick grappler, but he was picked apart by the champ on the feet. Hill fared better in the stand-up early, but he faded as the fight went on. This fight offers both men a chance to gain a little bit of redemption and place their name back on the contender list for another shot at Moraes. Hill probably holds the edge in striking and wrestling, while Rettinghouse is the bigger submission threat.
Hill’s grappling ability will probably neutralize any threat from Rettinghouse on the ground, though, and the TUF alum is going to score early in the stand-up. Although Hill’s output was sluggish in the later rounds of his fight with Moraes, he typically has good stamina and the ability to grind away with his wrestling for days. Rettinghouse is going to be in for a long and frustrating night if he can’t avoid takedowns and clinch situations.
Rettinghouse could pull off a submission if Hill gets careless, but the more likely outcome in this affair involves a grinding three rounds of wrestling and positional control from Hill en route to yet another decision win.
Other key bouts: Ryan Dickson (10-3) vs. Jason Witt (5-2), Mike Hernandez (7-2) vs. Lyndon Whitlock (9-4), Cleber Junior (9-3) vs. Adrian Woolley (9-4), Alex Ricci (8-3) vs. Kyle Prepolec (8-3), Josh Rich (3-0) vs. Denis Puric (5-3)
Event Date: May 31
Watch Event: online pay-per-view on Ustream
Mina Kurobe (5-0) vs. Mei Yamaguchi (13-8-1)
With an undefeated record, Mina Kurobe has inserted her name into the discussion in the atomweight top 10. This weekend at Deep Jewels 8, Kurobe will have the chance to cement her position as a top 105-pounder when she competes in the concluding rounds of the Deep Jewels Featherweight (106-pound) Grand Prix 2015. In the semifinals of the tournament, Kurobe is paired with Mei Yamaguchi, easily the most significant opponent Kurobe has encountered in her career. The winner will move on to the tourney final later the same evening against the winner of the other semifinal between Tomo Maesawa and Satomi Takano.
The 38-year-old Kurobe got a late start to her professional MMA career. The Master Japan product, who has a background in grappling, debuted in December 2012 at the age of 35. She has won all five of her fights, including three by way of rear-naked choke submissions. Her victories, which include submissions of fellow tournament semifinalists Maesawa and Takano, have come primarily against opponents who currently sit right around the .500 mark.
Yamaguchi, the final Valkyrie featherweight champion, was once considered a top atomweight. However, the last four years have not been kind to her. After building up an 8-2-1 mark, Yamaguchi has gone 5-6 through her last 11 outings. She started training in karate at a young age, but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is her strong suit. She has six wins by way of submission, but she added her first career knockout victory with a 44-second finish of Miyoko Kusaka in the tournament’s opening round. “V.V” has a long list of significant names on her resume, with wins over Saori Ishioka, Emi Fujino, Kyoko Takabayashi, Yuka Tsuji and Mika Nagano and losses to Fujino, Tsuji, Seo Hee Ham, Katja Kankaanpää, Megumi Fujii, Patricia Vidonic and Ayaka Hamasaki. All of Yamaguchi’s losses came on the scorecards.
Yamaguchi has been wildly inconsistent when it comes to winning fights. She also has a bad habit of keeping fights close — six split decisions, two majority verdicts and a draw — but she has at least proven to be an extremely difficult out. Her recent knockout victory added another dimension to her game after a career filled with submissions. Whereas Yamaguchi decimated her opponent in the quarterfinals, Kurobe was forced to settle for a split decision against Emi Tomimatsu, a veteran with a sub-.500 record and a recent submission loss to Mizuki Inoue.
Kurobe is an efficient grappler, but it’s highly unlikely that she’ll finish her veteran opponent. Instead, she’ll have to rely on her aggression — and Yamaguchi’s tendency to fight close fights — in order to eke out the decision win. However, the 32-year-old Yamaguchi is a talented grappler who could turn the tables on Kurobe and grind out a decision victory of her own.
This contest is essentially the tournament final. Yamaguchi has experience and youth on her side. She’s also been through the rigorous tournament format before and emerged victorious. Furthermore, she’s seen action against a long list of high-level opponents. Kurobe has a lot of momentum right now, but Yamaguchi will put an end to Kurobe’s undefeated streak. It will be a close fight with a lot of work on the mat, and Yamaguchi will just edge Kurobe on the scorecards to advance in the tournament.
Other key bouts: Tomo Maesawa (5-4) vs. Satomi Takano (5-5) in a Deep Jewels Featherweight Grand Prix 2015 semifinal bout, Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Mizuki Inoue in a grappling match
Victor Henry (9-1) vs. Taichi Nakajima (9-4-1)
There aren’t many bantamweight prospects on the regional scene right now who are enjoying as much success as Victor Henry. Henry, fresh off an upset victory over veteran Masakatsu Ueda, returns at Pancrase 267 and seeks to add to his impressive resume when he fights Taichi Nakajima.
After a rocky amateur career in which he dropped two fights, Henry turned pro in 2010 and started training with Josh Barnett and the CSW crew. He won his first six pro contests before running into Joe Murphy. Murphy, a World Series of Fighting veteran and future Resurrection Fighting Alliance fighter, handed Henry his first pro loss by way of a closely contested split decision. Henry rebounded from the defeat in a big way. He scored a TKO victory over Dream veteran Hideo Tokoro, scored a first-round submission finish of Cory Vom Baur and, most recently, stunned Masakatsu Ueda with a third-round kneebar submission finish. The 28-year-old is a taekwondo black belt, but his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills have accounted for five submission victories to go along with his two stoppages via strikes. Henry has only been stopped once, via submission, and that was during his amateur run.
Henry’s 26-year-old opponent, Nakajima, is a grinding fighter who has never been stopped in a fight. The Japanese fighter has gone the distance in all four of his losses, as well as in five victories and a draw. The Paraestra Tokyo product has finished two opponents via strikes and two by way of submission. After debuting in 2011 and posting a 1-2-1 mark through his first four fights, Nakajima went on to win six straight fights. His four most recent outings have provided mixed results against tough competition. He lost to UFC veteran Motonobu Tezuka, defeated Sirwan Kakai and Marcio Cesar, and then lost to Toshiaki Kitada.
Henry’s recent surge is difficult to ignore. He’s downed much better competition than he’ll face when he meets Nakajima. Fighters like Tezuka and Kitada have outworked the Japanese fighter, but Henry should be able to turn in an even more impressive result. If Henry could stop Ueda — no small feat there — then he should be able to hand Nakajima the first stoppage loss of his career. Henry will coax the tapout around the midway point of this affair.
Other key bouts: J.J. Ambrose (21-5) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (13-6-1), Juntaro Ushiku (12-2-1) vs. Kotetsu Boku (21-10-2), Gota Yamashita (10-2) vs. Shingo Suzuki (11-8-3), Yasutaka Koga (10-3-1) vs. Masatatsu Ueda (4-0-1), Yukitaka Musashi (6-1-1) vs. Tatsuya So (13-11-4)