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. 21
Watch Event: CBS Sports Network
Jason Soares (9-0) vs. Guilherme Faria (15-5)
If you’re missing UFC action this weekend and Bellator’s Friday offering isn’t quite enough to quench your thirst for MMA, then Fight Time Promotions might have the answer. The Florida-based company is back with its 33rd effort, which airs on the CBS Sports Network. The lineup isn’t heavy on big names, but it includes a pair of prospects worth watching. Those two up-and-comers, Jason Soares and Guilherme Faria, will clash in a battle for the featherweight title that currently resides around the waist of Soares.
The undefeated Soares claimed the belt in 2014 when he submitted Randy Barosso in the first round of their Fight Time 21 meeting. “The Specimen” has won two subsequent fights, first notching a decision victory over Paulo Silva and then successfully defending his crown with a submission finish of Danny Chavez. However, the 26-year-old does have one exhibition loss on his resume. He fought Julian Erosa on The Ultimate Fighter 22 and landed on the wrong side of a majority verdict. The Freestyle Fighting Academy export has just one knockout win and one decision nod. The remaining seven victories came by way of submission.
Faria checks in as the more experienced fighter in this title tilt. The Brazilian turned pro in 2008 and lost his first three outings, all by way of submission. Despite his early struggles, Faria was able to regroup and put together a respectable 15-5 mark through his first 20 career fights. The 25-year-old made an unsuccessful bid for the Premium FC title in a 2013 match against UFC veteran Júnior Assunção, but he does boast an XFC International tournament championship in which he defeated Carlos Torres, Ranfi Rivas and Missael Silva. The Nikolai MMA fighter has only two submission victories to accompany five decision nods and eight knockout wins.
The most notable stat in this match-up can be found in Faria’s loss column. The Brazilian has suffered all of his defeats via submission. Granted, the first three of the defeats came when he was 16-17 years old. He’s 11-1 over his last 12 fights, with only the loss to Assunção hanging over his head. However, Faria’s weak submission defense has to be the prime target for Soares in this scrap.
As can often be the case for Brazilian prospects, Faria has fought a very inconsistent level of competition. Soares has seen a steady stream of moderately talented opponents, and he has dispatched of them all. Faria has lethal power in his hands, but Soares should have the overall talent edge and the ability to quickly turn this into a ground war. If Soares can accomplish this task, Faria’s in big trouble.
Other key bouts: Yoislandy Izquierdo (9-3) vs. Gláucio Eliziário (7-2), Miguel Baeza (1-0) vs. Mike D’Angelo (3-2)
Askar Askarov (7-0) vs. José Maria Tomé (37-5)
The route to the top of a division is both short and tenuous in the flyweight division. Just ask Brazilian veteran José Maria Tomé. After 36 career bouts, Tomé was a borderline contender immediately upon his entry into the UFC’s Octagon. Two fights later, he was jettisoned back to the regional circuit in South America. All it took was a set of knockout losses to John Lineker and Dustin Ortiz. Now, four wins removed from his short UFC run, Tomé is busy re-establishing himself. In order to do so, he’ll venture outside of Brazil for the first time in his entire career. The flyweight vet is out to crush the dreams of undefeated upstart Askar Askarov at the stacked 48th card from Absolute Championship Berkut..
Tomé’s resume dates back to a 2004 pro debut. He used strikes to put away his first first four opponents, and he continued to stop foes left and right via either knockout or submission through his first 13 fights, with only the exception of one disqualification victory. The Team Nogueira fighter went 4-3 with one no-contest over his next eight fights. All three defeats came by submission. He reeled off 16 wins and one no-contest over his next 17 fights, scoring most of his victories via strikes or submission. The lengthy streak earned him admission into the UFC ranks, but he stumbled against Lineker to the tune of a second-round TKO and then fell via TKO against Ortiz in the third frame of their contest. He’s only fought four times since his 2013 UFC run, but he scored victories in all of those appearances. Unfortunately, three of his four subsequent wins came on the scorecards, marking an unusual pattern for the 34-year-old. Overall, Tomé has 15 wins by some form of knockout and 14 victories via submission.
Askarov does not carry the same extensive resume to the ACB cage. The undefeated Russian only started plying his trade as a professional in 2013. “Bullet” has yet to see the scorecards through his unblemished seven-fight campaign. Instead, he has alternated between destroying opponents with his fists and putting them away via his grappling. The Fighting Eagle product has been cranking up the dial on his level of competition lately. First, he handed out the first loss to prospect Kirill Medvedovski when he secured a choke submission. Then, he put away Marcin Lasota via strikes. Finally, he stepped up to take on 26-fight veteran Ruslan Abiltarov and scored a second-round submission victory with a choke finish.
Askarov tends to weigh in at just a tenth of a pound above the 126-pound upper limit that would be enforced if he were to get the call up from the UFC. He’s certainly shown the finishing ability to make it to the Octagon, but he needs to be on point at weigh-ins if he’s to be taken seriously by the UFC brass. He’s on the right path when it comes to opponents, though. Tomé is a nice incremental step up from Abiltarov after the 24-year-old’s previous wins. The Brazilian is no easy win — he’s been perfect for much of his non-UFC career and suffered two of his non-UFC losses against Jussier “Formiga” da Silva and Leandro Higo — but he certainly isn’t an impossible task.
Askarov is fighting on home soil against a fighter who is leaving his homeland to compete abroad for the first time in an extensive career. Tomé’s recent decision wins might also suggest that he’s not quite as aggressive as he once was. This fight can be won anywhere by either fighter, but Askarov should be more comfortable and the hungrier of the two fighters. The Russian wins at home against the visiting Brazilian.
Other key bouts: Ali Bagov (22-9) vs. Abdul-Aziz Abdulvakhabov (13-1) for the lightweight title, Michail Tsarev (30-6) vs. Nikola Dipchikov (14-4), Sergey Kandozhko (22-3-1) vs. Benny Alloway (18-7), Max Nunes (16-3) vs. Maxim Futin (6-3-1), Marcin Lasota (9-3) vs. Ruslan Abiltarov (19-7-1), Alexey Polpudnikov (22-4-1) vs. Carlos Alexandre (12-2), Jesse Taylor (30-14) vs. Mukhamed Berkhamov (9-0), Stanislav Vlasenko (7-2) vs. Andrei Ciubotaru (7-4), Sergey Belostenniy (3-0) vs. Mukhomad Vakhaev (3-4-1)
Event Date: Oct. 22
Watch Event: Combat and SporTV (Brazil), ESPN Deportes (Latin America), ESPN3
Felipe Colares (7-0) vs. Lucas de Oliveira Almeida (3-0)
The theme of the week involves fighters who are out to keep a spotless record intact. In the other two featured bouts in this preview column, there is no guarantee that an “O” will go. However, Jungle Fight 91 does include one contest where, barring unusual circumstances, one fighter will leave the cage with a loss to their name. The winner, meanwhile, walks away with the promotion’s vacant featherweight crown. The battle for the gold features seven-fight prospect Felipe Colares and three-fight upstart Lucas de Oliveira Almeida.
In this battle of up-and-comers, Colares checks in as the veteran after only seven fights. The Team Nogueira fighter kicked things off in 2013 with a choke submission of Evandro Souza Balieiro and kept rolling through his next six opponents, including Thiago “Manchinha” Silva. The 22-year-old has not seen the scorecards yet while recording five submission victories — all by choke — and two victories via strikes.
Almeida is still on his rookie-year campaign. He debuted in January and picked up a first-round TKO finish of Felipe Castro at Jungle Fight 85. Two events later, at Jungle Fight 87, he tacked on a second-round submission of Diogo Silva. Most recently, Almeida appeared at Jungle Fight 89 in July and dispatched of Diego Barbosa via a second-round knockout.
Almeida has been on fire since entering the pro ranks. It’s difficult to say if he can extend that success against a more experienced fellow prospect, but Colares hasn’t exactly faced the cream of the crop yet to prove his own worth. Colares has competed as a bantamweight at some stages of his career, and there’s a chance he’s not big enough to succeed against top-tier competition as a 145-pounder. While this is another pick-em fight, Almeida’s early hot streak is enough to give him the edge.
Other key bouts: Polyana Viana (8-1) vs. Veronica Grenno (3-1) for the women’s strawweight title, Ary Santos (12-5) vs. Cleiton Silva (11-1), Ahmed Amir (6-1) vs. Wilson Fonseca (5-3), Barbara Acioly (2-0) vs. Mayra Cantuária (2-1-1), Lucas de Queiroz (2-0) vs. Daniel Chicão (5-8), David Teixeira (5-1) vs. Johnny Walker (8-3), Kaik Brito (6-0) vs. Thiago Lima (2-0)