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: July 8
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Paddy Pimblett (10-1) vs. Teddy Violet (10-2)
As if this weekend’s serving of MMA wasn’t stacked enough — three UFC cards, including UFC 200, and a total of five title fights — the UFC’s digital subscription network, UFC Fight Pass, is also dishing out an impressively stacked Cage Warriors card on Friday. The lineup features a middleweight title tilt between Jack Marshman and Christopher Jacquelin, a lightweight championship affair between Chris Fishgold and Adam Boussif, along with bouts featuring prospects Tom Green, Tim Wilde, Scott Clist and Darren Stewart. The 77th edition of Cage Warriors also features an intriguing featherweight showdown between Paddy Pimblett and Teddy Violet.
The 24-year-old Violet is a French fighter who returns to action in Europe after making an unsuccessful venture to Japan for his most recent bout, a split decision loss to Michihiro Omigawa in Japan. The Haute Tension product went undefeated through his first eight outings, all of which took place in France. His excellent start caught the attention of the British-based BAMMA organization, which signed Violet to fight one of its top fighters, Tom Duquesnoy, for the vacant BAMMA featherweight strap. Duquesnoy handed Violet his first pro loss when he submitted his fellow Frenchman in the second round. Violet, who had previously notched five submissions, two split decisions and a unanimous nod, rebounded with a pair of wins via strikes against varying levels of competition. His knockout of the previously unbeaten Tom McCafferty came just 22 seconds into their fight. His loss to Omigawa was only the second defeat of his pro career.
Pimblett checks in at just 21 years old. “The Baddie” already has 11 fights under his belt as a pro. He made his debut in 2012 and won his first four fights before stumbling against Cameron Else in a 35-second submission loss. The Next Generation MMA Liverpool product responded to the loss by capturing six straight wins while stepping up to face more experienced competition. Pimblett has finished two fights via TKO and scored one submission due to strikes, but chokes account for the majority of his victories. He holds the featherweight title in the Full Contact Contender promotion and has made one successful defense of the belt. He most recently returned to the Cage Warriors promotion and captured a unanimous decision over veteran Ashleigh Grimshaw.
Violet is one of the better prospects to emerge from France, but he had the misfortune of fighting an even better French prospect when he met Duquesnoy. Violet was only slightly edged on the feet, but he was thoroughly dismantled on the mat. Duquesnoy dominated from top position in round one and then won the fight off his back in the second stanza when Violet scored a big takedown and ended up in perfect position for Duquesnoy to lock in a triangle choke for the finish.
The young Pimblett can use length to his advantage on the feet in order to connect with strikes, especially his kicks, but his stand-up looks stiff and awkward. His real gift is the submission game — just take a look at this slick flying triangle submission at Cage Warriors 68. Opponents obviously aren’t safe in the clinch, and they can find themselves in quick trouble if they score the takedown or land on their back off a Pimblett takedown.
Violet’s objectives in this fight are to keep his distance and turn this into a stand-up fight. Any clinches or takedowns, whether they come from Violet or his opponent, will put the former BAMMA title hopeful in danger. Pimblett is too quick and skilled at attacking with submissions, and, as Violet demonstrated against Duquesnoy, he can get in over his head on the mat. If Violet keeps the fight standing, it should be a fairly even affair and a fight that Violet can win.
Once the contest goes to the ground, Violet will be on the defensive. He could crack Pimblett with punches while the submission specialist is hunting for a hold, but it’s more likely that he’ll need both of his hands to peel Pimblett off of his back, neck and limbs. He might succeed for a while, but Pimblett is going to eventually lock in a choke and coax a tap from Violet.
Other key bouts: Jack Marshman (19-5) vs. Christopher Jacquelin (8-2) for the middleweight title, Chris Fishgold (13-1-1) vs. Adam Boussif (9-3) for the lightweight title, Tom Green (10-1) vs. Brad Wheeler (15-10), Tim Wilde (8-1) vs. Scott Clist (10-2), Darren Stewart (6-0) vs. Boubacar Balde (11-8), Aiden Lee (2-0) vs. Konmon Deh (4-3)
Event Date: July 8
Brogan Walker (3-0) vs. Kate Da Silva (10-3)
Many of the world’s best female fighters reside inside the UFC or Invicta, but there are some exceptions. Take women’s strawweight competitors Brogan Walker and Kate Da Silva. The former is undefeated through three pro bouts. The latter has suffered a few setbacks, but she remains among the best female fighters in the South Pacific region. Walker and Da Silva join a solid lineup for the 54th edition of Pacific Xtreme Combat.
Guam native Walker is the less experienced fighter of the pair, but “Killer Bee” remains perfect through three fights. She made her pro debut as a strawweight under the PXC banner in late 2014 and picked up a unanimous verdict over Yoo Jin Jung. Decision wins over flyweights Gabby Romero and Raika Emiko followed in 2015. The Elite Muay Thai and Purebred Jiu Jitsu Academy fighter has yet to face a fighter as experienced as Da Silva.
The 33-year-old Da Silva is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The New Zealand resident has six submission victories on her resume. The Storm Damage veteran has been competing professionally since 2009, but 10 of her 13 fights have taken place since 2013. Her first pro loss came via submission courtesy of Faith Van Duin in Da Silva’s third fight of a one-night tournament, following her submission wins over Arlene Blencowe and Ginny Connors. More recently, Da Silva posted a successful two-fight performance in the Princesses of Pain Round-Robin Tournament, where she submitted Desiree-Ann Maaka and took a judges’ nod over Charlene Watt. She stumbled again in a bid for the vacant XFC Australia women’s bantamweight title when she fell by way of TKO against Jessica “Jessy Jess” Rose-Clark. Another two victories followed, but Da Silva ran into another setback when she dropped to strawweight to fight Marilia Santos at XFC International 11. Santos topped Da Silva on the scorecards. The New Zealander has since rebounded with a submission victory over Hera Tamati in a featherweight title match under the Minotaur banner.
Da Silva can often struggle to find the takedown. She succeeded in defeating the aforementioned Blencowe, but it was off a reversal when Blencowe attempted to gain top position. Da Silva’s struggles in the takedown department also contributed to her loss to Van Duin. The BJJ black belt telegraphed her takedowns, and when she finally did score one, she failed to make use of the superior position, instead falling right into her opponent’s triangle choke attempt. On the mat, Da Silva can threaten with armbar attempts from the bottom.
Da Silva’s jiu-jitsu stands as her biggest weapon, but she also has experience and a more disciplined style working in her favor. Walker looked awfully sloppy against the aforementioned Romero, who was able to create a lot of scrambles and score takedowns. Walker didn’t let Romero capitalize on any of her mistakes, but Da Silva is a far more experienced opponent. Furthermore, the New Zealander’s jiu-jitsu base gives her advantages Romero didn’t have against Walker. If this fight hits the floor, Da Silva can control position. If Walker starts focusing on escaping bad positions, Da Silva can sink in a submission hold.
This is a tough fight for Walker. She’s gotten by low-level competition, but she hasn’t earned a finish yet even at the lowest levels. Good luck with earning one now. She’ll need to wait for Da Silva to make a big mistake, but that mistake might not come. Until Walker can keep better positional control over her opponents, she’s going to struggle to take the next step up. That struggle starts here when Da Silva hands Walker a submission loss.
Other key bouts: Roque Martinez (8-3-1) vs. Kelvin Fitial (13-7-2), Frank Camacho (18-3) vs. Han Seul Kim (7-3), Shane Alvarez (11-4) vs. Emilio Urrutia (7-3), Dylan Fussel (10-2) vs. Tyrone Jones (5-5)
Event Date: July 9
Watch Event: CBS Sports Network, GoFightLive pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Tim Williams (12-3) vs. Nah-Shon Burrell (14-6)
Among East Coast promotions, Cage Fury Fighting Championships stands out as a top dog. Its 59th offering continues a trend of strong events. The lineup features a featherweight title clash between Anthony Morrison and Jared Gordon, but we’ll turn our attention to the middleweight contest between Tim Williams and Nah-Shon Burrell.
Williams was a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 17, but he came up short in his bid to make the house when he lost to Dylan Andrews. The Team Balance product returned for season 19 of the reality series, made the house with a TKO victory over Bojan Velickovic and then suffered a loss to Dhiego Lima. Those TUF fights don’t count on his official record, however, leaving him with just three official defeats to go with 12 victories. “The South Jersey Strangler,” who made his pro debut in 2009, won his first seven fights before suffering his first career loss. In that early streak, he claimed TKO wins over the likes of Duane Bastress and Andre Gusmao. He lost to Dustin Jacoby, already a UFC veteran at the time, via TKO in a CFFC middleweight title bout. He wasn’t definitively finished, but rather lost when he sustained a deep cut that caused officials to halt the contest. Williams bounced back with a three-fight winning streak and redeemed himself by claiming the CFFC middleweight strap with a decision victory over Ron Stallings, who would go on to compete in the UFC in his very next fight. Williams lost the belt to Anthony Smith and failed to recapture it in their rematch, accounting for his other two losses. Williams has rebounded with two victories, but those wins came against low-level competition. The 30-year-old has two wins by way of TKO, but, as his name would suggest, he’s more accomplished on the mat, where he has tallied eight submissions.
The 26-year-old Burrell represents another tough opponent for Williams. He’s a veteran of Strikeforce, the UFC and Bellator. He hasn’t found much success in the big leagues, but he’s often been paired with rising prospects — Chris Spang in Strikeforce, Stephen Thompson in the UFC, Andrey Koreshkov and Michael Page in Bellator. Take away those losses, and he’s only suffered defeat at the hands of Chris Curtis early in his career and strong veteran Lyman Good in his recent Cage Fury stint. He recently avenged the loss to Curtis, too, albeit by split decision. Burrell has nine wins by some form of knockout, but he has never submitted an opponent. He has been dominated on the scorecards by Page, widely considered a one-dimensional striker, and barely squeaked past Curtis. He hasn’t seen a strong string of success against name opponents since his Strikeforce days.
Williams has struggled against the better competition he’s met. He was stopped twice by the aforementioned Smith, and the losses to Lima, Andrews and Jacoby don’t strengthen his case, either. Burrell’s ceiling seems to be in the same general range. These guys just can’t seem to break on through to the next level.
Burrell was criticized for his clinch-heavy, low-output approach to the Page fight. It may have saved him from a knockout, but it didn’t give him the win or convert any new fans. Burrell has fared better lately, with the exception of his loss to Good, but Williams brings a strong grappling game and a scrappy style to the cage. If the fight does go to the ground, Burrell could be in trouble. Furthermore, Burrell has spent much of his career at welterweight, whereas Williams is a middleweight who has bounced up to fight in catchweight bouts around the 200-pound mark on occasion. Williams might have the size to bully Burrell to the mat.
This is a fight that could go either way. Burrell has the ability to knock out Williams or play the clinch game all the way to the scorecards. However, Williams might have the key to victory via his size and ground game. So, who wins? The edge goes to Williams.
Other key bouts: Anthony Morrison (10-2) vs. Jared Gordon (9-1) for the featherweight title, Manny Walo (10-2-1) vs. De’Alonzio Jackson (3-0), Eddie Alvarez (2-0) vs. Rob Flores (0-2), Giorgi Kudukhashvili (2-0) vs. Jesse Stirn (3-0), Leodegario Muniz (4-1) vs. Ryan Cafaro (2-2), Joseph Lowry (3-0) vs. Bradley Desir (8-4)