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: Oct. 23
Rosy Duarte (8-2) vs. Julia Berezikova (8-4)
The Russian-based Fight Nights promotion is headed to St. Petersburg for its latest venture. The card is focused mostly on local prospects, including light heavyweight headliners Mikhail Mokhnatkin and Aleksandar Rakić, but it will also play host to a women’s bantamweight prospect who will make her first trip to fight outside of her native land. That prospect is Rosy Duarte, a Brazilian fighter with an 8-2 mark through 10 professional outings. Duarte meets local favorite Julia Berezikova in the evening’s co-headliner.
The 34-year-old Duarte made her pro debut in 2008 and suffered a loss. She didn’t return to action until 2012, but the hiatus proved beneficial to her career. When she returned, she won three straight via TKO and posted just one additional loss through nine fights. Duarte has feasted mostly on debuting pros and fighters with losing records, but she did add a recent win over accomplished veteran Elaine Albuquerque. Her only loss since her 2012 return came against Viviane Pereira, by far the best opponent she has encountered in her 10-fight career. Duarte is a finisher. The Essencial Team product has five wins via strikes and one by way of submission.
The 31-year-old Berezikova is a well-traveled veteran who has been competing professionally since late 2006. The Russian fighter has a combat-sports resume that extends far beyond her years in MMA. She has taken home medals at the 1998 Asian Judo Championships, the Russian Wushu Sanda 2003, the 2004 St. Petersburg Combat Sambo Championships and the 2008 Russian jiu-jitsu championships. She’s also a highly decorated boxer with a trophy case full of honors. Her MMA career got off to a slow start. She went 1-3 through her first four contests, but the defeats came courtesy of quality competitors Tara LaRosa, Julie Kedzie and Rosi Sexton. Berezikova found her groove in 2008, rattling off wins over Megumi Yabushita, Milana Dudieva and Karla Benitez (twice) among others while compiling a six-fight winning streak that didn’t come to an end until 2013. It was then, in her most recent Fight Nights appearance, that Berezikova clashed with future UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk and suffered a two-round decision loss. After a nearly two-year layoff, she bounced back in 2015 at XFC International 9 in Brazil with a second-round submission finish of Juliana Werner.
Duarte often looks to grind out fights in the clinch, wearing down on her opponent before going for the takedown. Despite her grinding style, the Brazilian fighter has only seen the scorecards on three occasions. She’s usually able to overwhelm her opponent with strikes, but she’s also capable of getting the submission finish.
Berezikova is the more technical striker, but she might be outsized and outgunned by Duarte. The Russian fighter has been competing at flyweight, whereas Duarte appears to be more of a natural bantamweight. That doesn’t rule out Berezikova’s chances for a victory here, though. Duarte’s fondness of the clinch could come back to bite her. Berezikova has excellent judo throws that could allow her to take the Brazilian for a ride that ends on the mat with the Russian in the advantageous position. Despite her boxing accolades, Berezikova is actually at her most dangerous on the canvas, where she will quickly attack her opponent’s arms or legs. Even if Duarte initiates the takedown, she has to worry about what her counterpart can do off her back.
These two could get into some wild exchanges on the feet, but this fight is more likely to be decided by what happens in the clinch and during any grappling battles. Duarte has the size and potentially the power in her favor, but Berezikova is a well-rounded fighter who can really test Duarte in all realms of the fight game. Don’t be fooled by Berezikova’s record, which only suggests that she’s not quite a top-tier fighter but rather a gatekeeper. Furthermore, factor in Berezikova’s home-field advantage over a fighter who has never traveled outside of her native Brazil and is now trekking halfway around the globe to meet her most challenging opponent to date. That all adds up to a Berezikova victory via either submission or an extremely hard-fought decision.
Other key bouts: Mikhail Mokhnatkin (7-1-1) vs. Aleksandar Rakić (7-1), Anastasia Yankova (1-0) vs. Chommanee Sor Taehiran (0-0), Dinislam Kamavov (3-0-1) vs. Alexander Butenko (38-11-1), Bakhtiyar Abbasov (14-4) vs. Gamzat Hiramagomedov (2-0), Magomed Isaev (1-0) vs. Daniil Prikaza (1-0)
Event Date: Oct. 24
Watch Event: Combat and SporTV (Brazil), ESPN Deportes (Latin America)
Fernando Duarte (19-3) vs. Rangel do Carmo (7-1)
The 82nd offering from Jungle Fight is a bill topped by three title fights. Ciro Rodrigues and Erick Barbosa vie for the lightweight crown, Bruno Cappelozza and Sandro Bezerra clash for the 220-pound title and the undefeated Amanda Lemos seeks women’s bantamweight gold while welcoming debuting pro Carol Cunha to the promotion. However, the best pairing of prospects comes further down the card, where the 19-3 Fernando Duarte meets Rangel do Carmo, who possesses a 7-1 mark, in a showdown of featherweights.
The 32-year-old Duarte has been fighting professionally since 2008. He launched out of the gates with nine victories, including a unanimous decision win over future UFC fighter Marcos Vinicius “Vina.” The CM System product stumbled when he met Francisco Cylderlan in 2010. He bounced back with two wins before suffering his second loss when he met UFC veteran Wagner Campos. Duarte responded to the loss by reeling off another eight wins. His streak ended in his most recent bout, where he was knocked out in the first round by Valdines Silva. Duarte, who has 11 submission victories, isn’t much of a threat in the stand-up department, where he has scored just one finish.
Marcelo Costa Team’s do Carmo is a 20-year-old fighter who made his pro debut in 2013. He won his debut by way of a decison and then scored stoppages in his next five fights. He took a huge step up in competition when he met the aforementioned Cylderlan in his seventh fight. Cylderlan handed do Carmo a second-round submission defeat. “Spankz” suffered through a couple of fight cancellations before returning to action in April 2015 and claiming the vacant Paranaguá Fight bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over Apostolis Andrade Halianis. The prospect has a well-balanced resume of finishes, with three stoppages via strikes and two finishes by submission to accompany a pair of decision nods.
Do Carmo’s best quality has been his ability to create scrambles and score sweeps or reversals on the mat. The young fighter has been in some bad spots against the likes of mediocre competition such as Lucas Silva and Jhonny Robledo, but he always managed to escape and end up on top, often advancing all the way to mount. The results have been impressive — in those specific fights, he emerged with a rear-naked choke submission of Silva and a ground-and-pound TKO of Robledo. When a skilled veteran grappler is inserted opposite do Carmo, the tables turn. We need look only as far as his fight with Cylderlan for an illustration. He wasn’t able to initiate as many scrambles and was controlled much more effectively by his opponent when the pair grappled, all the way up to Cylderlan’s rear-naked choke finish of the previously undefeated up-and-comer.
Duarte fits the mold of a veteran opponent with plenty of grappling skills, and that’s bad news for do Carmo. Duarte will be giving up a few inches in height, and probably reach as well, but neither fighter has too much to worry about on the feet. Do Carmo tends to notch his striking finishes with ground-and-pound, not stand-up work. Duarte’s striking appears to be crisp, but he has only tallied one striking finish and might be a bit gunshy after his recent loss. He’ll close the distance at every opportunity and hunt for the takedown. Do Carmo isn’t difficult to get to the mat and Duarte has the veteran skills to thwart the youngster’s sweeps and scrambles.
This fight is likely to be a repeat of do Carmo’s loss to Cylderlan. Duarte should score takedowns almost at will and work from top control for long stretches, unless do Carmo gives him an opportunity for the quick finish instead. Duarte should emerge with his hand raised after forcing his opponent to tap.
Other key bouts: Ciro Rodrigues (18-6) vs. Erick Barbosa (16-7) for the lightweight title, Bruno Cappelozza (6-3) vs. Sandro Bezerra (6-0) for the 220-pound title, Amanda Lemos (3-0) vs. Carol Cunha (0-0) for the women’s bantamweight title, Francivaldo Trinaldo (5-1) vs. Valdines Silva (12-5), Handerson Martins (7-2) vs. Guilherme Miranda (13-3), Léo Vitorino (4-1-1) vs. Wagner Maia (2-0), Sidnei Souza (4-1) vs. Wellington Costa (0-1), Romulo Tinetti (4-1) vs. João Paulo Ferreira (4-0), Édi de Castro (2-0-1) vs. Otávio Sagás (2-0), Alisson Barbosa (6-1) vs. Lucas Kramer (3-0), Adriano Capitulino (2-0) vs. Kelles Albuquerque (19-18), Israel Ottoni (3-0) vs. Geraldo de Freitas (5-3)
Event Date: Oct. 24
Mark Cherico (8-1) vs. Nate Landwehr (6-1)
The biggest regional fight on American shores this weekend is arguably the featherweight title tilt between once-defeated featherweights Mark Cherico and Nate Landwehr. The pair headline the 19th offering from the Pennsylvania-based Gladiators of the Cage promotion.
Pittsburgh’s own Cherico already holds the Pinnacle FC featherweight crown, which he captured with a May win over Darby Halferty. The second-round TKO finish was an impressive rebound performance following Cherico’s first pro loss in a catchweight bout against Brian Kelleher in November 2014. Prior to the Kelleher loss, Cherico had gone undefeated through seven pro contests since debuting in 2012. The 29-year-old trains out of the Pittsburgh Fight Club and Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Pittsburgh. He’s fond of chokes and has scored four submission victories. Cherico also has two finishes via strikes. He also tallied nine wins as an amateur, including eight submissions and one TKO.
The 27-year-old Landwehr also debuted in 2012 following a rocky amateur career where he picked up three submission wins and suffered three losses. As a pro, Landwehr has found more consistency. He debuted with the XFC, where he went 3-1 with a pair of knockouts and a TKO finish. After his XFC stint, Landwehr fought for and won the 3FC featherweight belt with a split decision nod over future Resurrection Fighting Alliance fighter Adam Townsend. “The Train” has tacked on two more victories, including a decision win over Justin Steave in his GotC debut. The SSF Submission Academy product has yet to claim a submission victory as a pro.
Cherico is a strong wrestler, but he can sometimes telegraph his shots and shoot in from too far outside. He makes up for it with persistence, however. If he does get his opponent to the canvas, he can be a handful. He’s active in seeking submissions, especially chokes, and he works well from top position while unleashing a ground-and-pound attack.
Landwehr struggled against the explosive takedown attempts of Townsend and barely emerged with the split decision win, but he stuffed many of Keith Richardson’s takedown attempts in his previous fight. Cherico’s takedown style more closely resembles the takedowns Richardson tried against Landwehr, and Landwehr responded to Richardson by scoring a big finish. Townsend, meanwhile, worked a lot of positional control against Landwehr in their close fight. This encounter between Landwehr and Cherico is likely to come down to whether or not Cherico can routinely plant Landwehr on the canvas. If he can, then his grappling abilities should allow him to dominate the XFC veteran en route to either a submission finish or a decision victory. If he can’t, then Landwehr might have a chance at the knockout.
Landwehr, who has gained some notoriety for his post-fight antics (which almost sparked a brawl following his win over Chris Wright), is quite capable of shutting down Cherico’s takedown attempts. He also packs a lot of power in his right hand, which could spell trouble for Cherico. While this fight is a tough one to call, Landwehr would appear to have the slight edge over his opponent and should find his hand raised when the dust settles.
Other key bouts: Josh Stansbury (6-2) vs. Victor Jones (3-1)