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: Nov. 3
Watch Event: AXS TV
Richard Odoms (13-3) vs. Jeff Hughes (7-1)
Richard Odoms isn’t your normal MMA champion. The Texan police officer is already 42 years old, but he’s enjoying perhaps the best run of his career. Odoms is the current Legacy Fighting Alliance heavyweight champion, but he’ll put the belt on the line at LFA 26 against yet another rising prospect who’d love to make his name off the aging veteran.
Odoms might seemingly be in the twilight of his career, but he’s still winning fights. “The Black Eagle” has been competing professionally since 2010. He has claimed victories over notable opponents Darrill Schoonover, Jake Heun, D.J. Linderman and Yusuke Kawaguchi. His losses came to the likes of Jared Rosholt, Konstantin Erokhin and Evgeny Erokhin. Odoms is based out of San Antonio and enters the fight with five knockout finishes, including a second-round dismantling of Willian Hoffmann in his LFA debut at LFA 6. He also has two submission victories, including a fifth-round stoppage of Jared Vanderaa in his most recent outing to claim the Legacy title. Odoms has a background in karate. He cuts to the heavyweight limit from a walking-around weight of approximately 300 pounds.
The 29-year-old Hughes took his time getting to the pro ranks. He fought extensively in the amateur ranks, with a recorded career that began in 2007 and extended all the way into 2013. Along the way, he did suffer three losses, but those losses came to future King of the Cage title challenger Nick Gaston, future The Ultimate Fighter 19 cast member and UFC fighter Mike King and undefeated amateur Antwan Phillips. Meanwhile, he claimed 11 amateur victories while mostly fighting for the NAAFS promotion. “Lights Out” finally made his pro debut in 2014, also under the NAAFS banner, and made quick work of Devon Wilson. He continued his streak of stoppages into 2015 with two finishes via strikes. His fourth pro victory came against Curt Lemmon, who pushed Hughes to the three-round limit. He stepped up in competition from there and handed a knockout to veteran Jason Riley and decisioned John Hawk. Hughes faced his only pro setback when he fell via technical knockout against another TUF 19 alum, Dan Spohn. The Ohio-based fighter rebounded with a decision victory over Ryan Pokryfky in June.
Odoms can get sloppy and often leaves himself open to counters. While he went the distance several times in the early stages of his career, Odoms is fighting with a kill-or-be-killed approach these days. Over his last six fights, he’s seen the scorecards just once while also recording three wins and two losses by some form of stoppage. Odoms is a senior league competitor in a much younger man’s world, but he’s no slouch. The 42-year-old’s last five victories came against a set of opponents who sported a combined 36-15 mark when they clashed with Odoms.
Hughes is a heavyweight who has lost a few fights at the amateur level and hasn’t always looked dominate as a pro. He fights with his hands low and was punished in his sophomore outing before outlasting Leviticus Roberson, who failed to answer the bell for the third round. He’s already suffered two losses to TUF 19 fighters who never really made a mark at the pro level. His biggest wins, meanwhile, came against Riley, a journeyman Strikeforce veteran who entered his bout with Hughes on the heels of a five-fight stretch in which he had won just one fight, and Hawk, who had not been able to stick with the Bellator promotion despite a 2-1 mark within the company.
Hughes is another excellent target for Odoms in the Texan’s late-career surge. The upstart heavyweight tends to take too much punishment, and he’s even lost on occasion by knockout. Odoms is always at risk for a knockout loss, but his own power and veteran savvy should carry him to a knockout win of his own against what should be an overmatched opponent in this contest.
Other key bouts: Thomas Webb (13-4) vs. Kolton Englund (5-2), Nicolle Caliari (3-1) vs. Itzel Esquivel (2-1), Juan Adams (1-0) vs. Brice Ritani-Coe (4-3), Omar Hillail (2-0) vs. Dustin Parman (1-1)
Event Date: Nov. 4
Watch Event: YouTube
Artur Guseinov (21-6) vs. Michail Tsarev (31-7)
The Fight Nights Global promotion usually delivers deep lineups, but the promotion’s 78th event is a more top-heavy affair. The card features UFC veteran Maiquel Falcão, who will stand as a test for prospect Ayub Gimbatov. Meanwhile, the main event pairs two light heavyweights who’ve combined for over 60 fights while maintaining a pretty darned good winning percentage. In one corner, there’s Artur Guseinov, a former victim of Falcão who has put together a strong comeback campaign in 2017 following a hiatus the previous year. In the other corner, there’s Michail Tsarev, a Bellator veteran who has endured a rocky road over his last five fights.
Tsarev, who debuted in 2005, is still just 31 years old, but he already has 38 fights under his belt. “The Lonely Wolf” has won 31 of those contests, including 21 by way of submission and eight via some form of knockout. His name should be somewhat familiar to American fight fans for his time in Bellator, where he competed in two welterweight tournaments but couldn’t overcome Lyman Good or Douglas Lima, both of whom stopped Tsarev with strikes. The RusFighters product did score one win in the Bellator cage when he submitted Tim Welch. Outside of Bellator, Tsarev has put together a resume that features a number of notable wins. He defeated The Ultimate Fighter alum Kyacey Uscola in a 2012 regional bout, his final fight before entering Bellator, and then, following his stint in the American-based promotion, he returned to Russia and put together a winning streak that included victories over Jaime Jara, Charles Andrade, Xavier Foupa-Pokam and Dennis Hallman. The streak was brought to an end when he ran into another TUF alum, Jesse Taylor. Taylor submitted Tsarev in the first round of their 2015 bout. This is where the Master of Sport in hand-to-hand combat began his recent roller-coaster ride. The loss to Taylor was followed by a alternating victories and defeats through his next four fights, all of which ended before the final bell.
The 33-year-old Guseinov also kicked off his pro career in 2005. The “Tornado” won his first eight fights before running into Beslan Isaev and UFC veteran Luigi Fioravanti in back-to-back bouts that resulted in losses for the Russian fighter. He picked up first-round victories in his next two contests, but floundered again when he met UFC veteran Mario Miranda. Guseinov has gone 11-3 since that loss, with his defeats coming against the previously unbeaten Beslan Ushukov, UFC vet Falcão and Klidson Farias. The Action Force Fight Team export has 13 knockouts and seven submissions, but he’s suffered all six of his defeats via submission.
Guseinov has built a solid 21-6 mark, but only his victories against Eddie Arizmendi and Tyson Jeffries really stand out. His submission defense is certainly a huge weakness. He doesn’t protect his neck very well and has been prone to chokes. The bad news for Guseinov is that Tsarev is pretty fond of chokes himself.
Tsarev has had his struggles, but he’s also proven capable of defeating skilled opponents. His losses have largely come against UFC and Bellator veterans, while he’s also picked up some victories against this level of competition. It’s difficult to see how Guseinov can hang with him. Guseinov’s weaknesses are no secret by this point, and Tsarev will take full advantage of the holes in his opponent’s game. Tsarev should pick up the submission victory, likely via a choke of some form.
Other key bouts: Maiquel Falcão (38-11) vs. Ayub Gimbatov (8-1), Evgeny Sulkin (2-0) vs. Anatoly Kondratiev (2-1), Magomed Isaev (2-0-1) vs. Levan Solodovnik (2-1)
Event Date: Nov. 4
Watch Event: Esporte Interativo
Gisele Moreira (7-2) vs. Sarah Frota (6-0)
There have been cards labeled as “the road to” the UFC, Invicta FC and Pancrase. Well, now Extreme Fighting Championship Worldwide is getting in on the party. The South African promotion is the apparent prize destination for some of the participants of the Brazilian Aspera FC’s 58th venture. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of gold on the line. Gisele Moreira and Sarah Frota vie for the women’s bantamweight crown in one of four title affairs on the card.
Frota jumped between the flyweight and bantamweight divisions for her first four fights, but her two most recent outings have kept her at the bantamweight level, and she’ll stay at 135 pounds for her upcoming encounter with Moreira. The 30-year-old has only been a professional fighter since early 2016. In April 2016, she debuted at 130 pounds and scored a second-round submission finish of fellow rookie Bruna Felício. She moved up to bantamweight for her sophomore appearance and added another submission finish, this time in the first round. Her next two bouts took place in the flyweight division, where she submitted Felício once again to capture the NP Fight flyweight strap and then knocked out the formerly undefeated Viviane Araujo to defend the belt. In her recent bantamweight run, she clashed with Mayra Cantuária for the Samurais do Cerrado belt. “A Treta” edged Cantuária by split decision to claim the title. The New Level Academy product then shifted her focus to Aspera, where she decisioned Layze Cerqueira.
Moreira stumbled out of the gates with a knockout loss in her 2013 pro debut. She righted the ship in 2014, scoring an armbar submission finish of Kessiny Mara. The Chute Boxe product added decision wins over Ariane Lipski and Priscila de Souza, but she dropped a decision to Taila Santos. She rebounded with four straight wins, although only her majority decision over Karolline Rosa stands as a notable victory in that stretch. Her other wins in this time frame came against rookie or sub-.500 fighters.
Frota is a strong fighter with a vicious attack. She displays a solid arsenal of kicks, and she can surge forward and power her opponent to the mat. Moreira, meanwhile, has proven that she can perform well against top-flight competition — her wins against Lipski and de Souza speak to this — but isn’t consistent in doing so. Moreira barrels forward aggressively at times and isn’t afraid to get into wild exchanges on the feet. This could play right into Frota’s style by opening up opportunities for takedowns as Moreira charges in, or simply allowing Frota to meet power with power and turn out the lights on Moreira on the feet.
Moreira’s the more experienced fighter, and her victories over Lipski and de Souza, as well as fights that went the distance against Santos and Rosa, prove that she’s no easy out. Frota might be undefeated, but she lacks the big-time experience that Moreira already has under her belt. Frota has preyed on low-tier competition, and that might be her downfall here.
Moreira’s a scrappy fighter. She won’t be easily finished, and she can hang tight against strong opponents. This one is probably headed the distance. Frota’s going to be in for a tough fight. Moreira won’t run away with it, but she should edge Frota on the scorecards.
Other key bouts: Fernando Bruno (16-4) vs. Mike Grundy (10-1) for the featherweight title, Glaico França (16-5) vs. Marcelo Barreira (16-3) for the welterweight title, Gustavo Erak (16-3-1) vs. Pedro Henrique (6-3), Hermes Franca (24-17) vs. Pedro Junior (11-1), Gian Siqueira (13-3) vs. Reginaldo Corvão (8-1), Wellington Turman (12-2) vs. Rafael Atílio (8-2), Lincoln Henrique (8-2) vs. Marcio Cabral (8-1), Diego Nunes (20-7) vs. Maicon Miler (7-3), Luis Rafael (32-1) vs. Leonardo Gonçalves (7-3), Jonas Boeno (32-11) vs. Alexandre Pereira (3-2)
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