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: Dec. 8
Watch Event: AXS TV
Alonzo Menifield (4-0) vs. Otavio Lacerda (9-4)
The light heavyweight division is dying for new talent, and the Legacy Fighting Alliance — along with its predecessor, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance — has been the best source of new blood for the weight class. The UFC has snatched up the likes of Jordan Johnson and Dominick Reyes after each of those light heavyweights impressed in the RFA/LFA cage. The latest prospect to appear under the LFA banner is already on the UFC’s radar. That man is the undefeated Alonzo Menifield. Menifield takes the co-headlining slot at LFA’s 26th venture, where he meets Otavio Lacerda.
The 30-year-old Menifield only has four pro fights, but he’s made the most of each outing and has always appeared on a major platform since beginning his pro run. He debuted with Bellator MMA in 2015 and needed just 38 seconds to demolish Zach Rosol. He went into the second round of his sophomore outing at RFA 46 before destroying Brock Combs with strikes that landed so hard that one of his opponent’s teeth went through his glove and tore ligaments in his hand. His LFA 13 appearance in June ended in a first-round submission victory over Khadzhimurat Bestaev. A little over a month later, he took part in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, where he defeated Daniel Jolly via technical knockout due to an eye injury. Now, Menifield, who has played pro football in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League, returns to the LFA to meet a veteran of the Brazilian circuit.
Lacerda has been competing professionally since 2007, but he has rarely risen above the levels of the Brazilian regional scene. The 33-year-old lost two of his first three pro bouts before hitting his stride, but those losses came to solid competition in the form of Andre Lobato and Caio Magalhães. The Marajó Brothers disciple won seven of his next eight contests. He then headed overseas to Britain, where he was stopped by John Phillips. “Javali” rebounded with a recent first-round finish, but it came against rookie competitor Paulo Cesar Almeida.
Menifield has been on a tear since devoting himself to the fight game. He won two amateur fights in a combined 61 seconds before knocking people silly at the pro level. Lacerda seems like an unlikely candidate to hand Menifield his first loss. The Brazilian has a number of notable names on his resume, but they mostly sit in his loss column. Furthermore, Lacerda has been finished in all of his defeats, including three that ended in some form of knockout.
Lacerda isn’t exactly great at protecting his chin. Magalhães dropped him. Sub-.500 fighter Geovane Salviano dropped him. Phillips dropped him. Menifield should be next to join that list, and likely in spectacular fashion.
Other key bouts: Damon Jackson (12-2-1) vs. Anselmo Luis Luna Jr. (14-6), Miles Johns (5-0) vs. Caio Machado (11-3), Steven Peterson (15-6) vs. Dustin Winter (6-4), Ramiz Brahimaj (4-0) vs. Ben Simons (2-1), Ricky Esquibel (2-0) vs. Cameron Miller (3-1), Devin Miller (1-0) vs. Manuel Corral (0-0)
Event Date: Dec. 9
Website: Facebook/PFC Primus Fighting Championship
Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Jason Soares (10-0) vs. Herbert Burns (6-2)
If not for his quiet 2017, Jason Soares would have easily landed on our list of 32 prospects who deserve a shot at the big leagues. As it stands, though, the 28-year-old’s first appearance of the year will take place at the Primus Fighting Championship show this weekend in Oklahoma. The featherweight up-and-comer meets world champion jiu-jitsu practitioner and longtime ONE Championship competitor Herbert Burns.
Soares has been plying his trade professionally since 2012, when he made his debut in Mexico with a knockout finish of Daniel Hernandez. He’s been a mainstay of the Fight Time promotion ever since, and he’s reeled off nine victories and a featherweight championship reign during his stay with the organization. “The Specimen” accumulated six finishes before fighting for the vacant Fight Time featherweight strap. He locked in an armbar in the first round to submit Randy Barosso and claim the gold. After a non-title fight under the Fight Time banner and a failed bid on The Ultimate Fighter 22, Soares returned to defend his title with a fifth-round submission of Danny Chavez and a decision nod over Guilherme Faria. His TUF campaign ended with a majority-decision loss to Julian Erosa. Overall, the Freestyle Fighting Academy product has seven submissions and one knockout victory.
Burns is a highly decorated grappler who has claimed a world title in no-gi competition. He’s also the brother of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Gilbert Burns. The 29-year-old trains out of Evolve MMA, where he also serves as the BJJ instructor. He made his pro debut on the Brazilian regional circuit in 2012 and won his first fight by submission. Then, he signed with ONE Championship, where he fought exclusively for his next seven fights. During his stay in the Asian organization, Burns secured three submission victories and earned two decisions. His victims included Edward Kelly, Harris Sarmiento, Hiroshige Tanaka, Honorio Banario and Timofey Nastyukhin, all of whom combined for a 68-31 record of when they locked horns with Burns. The Brazilian most recently faltered in back-to-back fights. He dropped a decision to Movlid Khaibulaev in February and suffered another loss on the scorecards in August when he met Magomed Idrisov.
Soares has made an inspirational comeback from a motorcycle accident that left the aspiring fighter battling to even walk again, let alone fight. That accident, which took place more than seven years ago, only slowed Soares down for a matter of months, though. He’s looked every bit of the three-sport athlete he was in high school. His wrestling background should give him an advantage over a BJJ practitioner, but he’s probably facing a disadvantage once the fight hits the mat and Burns’ world-class skills kick in. Soares performed admirably even in a losing effort against Erosa. Erosa dished out just enough damage to Soares while Soares pursued takedowns, and this was likely the difference in the fight’s outcome. Burns is more likely to attack with submission attempts, and Soares is better equipped to handle this strategy.
Burns hasn’t exactly been an overwhelming force in the MMA world. He only recorded three submissions in his ONE tenure and four overall. He couldn’t submit Sarmiento, who has eight submission losses in his lengthy career. Burns also fell on the scorecards twice against solid up-and-comers. It’s unlikely that Soares will find a finish on Burns, but that doesn’t mean the American can’t control his opponent for the duration en route to a decision win.
Other key bouts: Houston Alexander (17-15-1) vs. Rakim Cleveland (17-9-1), Rob Emerson (19-12) vs. David Sachs (10-4), Jamie Yager (8-4) vs. Tyler Jackson (10-7-1), Christiano Frohlich (8-3) vs. Cortez Coleman (13-8), Aaron McKenzie (4-0) vs. Lowrant-T Nelson (7-7), Ricardo Seixas (3-0) vs. Dalton Goddard (3-2)
Event Date: Dec. 10
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Takasuke Kume (20-5-3) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (18-7-1)
It’s rematch time in Japan. Pancrase’s 292nd event features a title showdown between current lightweight King of Pancrase Takasuke Kume and the man he defeated to claim the title, Kazuki Tokudome. Kume quickly toppled Tokudome in their first meeting at Pancrase 280 in September 2016, but now Tokudome has a chance to even the score.
Kume’s career can be separated into three parts: his Shooto tenure, his Road FC campaign and his current run with Pancrase. The 32-year-old debuted under the Shooto banner in 2007 and fought to a draw with Tomokazu Yuasa. While he did make an appearance in the Heat promotion and also popped up for two fights in Pancrase during this early period of his career, most of Kume’s work came with Shooto, where he posted an 8-2-2 mark that included a submission finish of UFC veteran Shane Nelson. His stretch with South Korea’s Road FC also included one foray into the Pancrase organization. He won four fights with Road FC, but he lost his three most important outings with the promotion: a tournament final against future UFC fighter Yui Chul Nam, a title challenge against Nam and a bid for the vacant belt against A Sol Kwon. Once he finally committed to an extended stay in Pancrase, Kume found his groove and went on a four-fight winning streak that includes his title win over Tokudome. “Da Jaguar” has 12 submission victories and two knockout finishes. His only setbacks have come on the scorecards.
Tokudome is the more familiar name to U.S. MMA fans. The 30-year-old had a four-fight stint in the UFC from 2013 to 2014, but he only won one of those fights. His Octagon debut came at UFC on Fuel TV 8, where he decisioned Cristiano Marcello. He subsequently lost to Norman Parke, the aforementioned Nam and Johnny Case before the UFC let him go. The Paraestra Hachioji export made his pro debut years earlier in 2007. His only losses during his pre-UFC days came to Tomohiko Yoshida, Maciej Górski and Isao Kobayashi. He’s gone 6-1 since departing the UFC. Along the way, he’s defeated the likes of Bellator veteran J.J. Ambrose, Sengoku and Deep champion Satoru Kitaoka and UFC castoff Akbarh Arreola. The judo black belt has nine knockouts and three submission victories, but he’s also been stopped on five occasions.
This is one of those rare Japanese fights that’s primed to give us a finish. Kume ended Tokudome’s night in the first round of their first fight, and there’s nothing to suggest that this fight will be much different. Tokudome has run into more bumps in the road during his MMA journey, whereas Kume has only lost to a select few. Kume held off on defending his title while he waited to see if he’d get a call for the most recent UFC trip to Japan. When the call didn’t come, he signed up for this rematch. Kume will be determined to put up a head-turning performance to show the UFC what it’s missing.
Tokudome has been stopped on numerous occasions, and Kume has the ability to score the finish with his power and aggressive game plan. This contest should end in similar fashion to their first meeting, but Kume’s second convincing finish of Tokudome should be enough to get UFC President Dana White’s attention.
Other key bouts: Isao Kobayashi (21-5-4) vs. Yusuke Kasuya (9-4-2), Kenta Sakuma (12-3-2) vs. Nobuki Fujii (16-8-3), Takashi Sato (11-1) vs. Akihiro Murayama (19-7-9), Koyomi Matsushima (8-2) vs. Kyle Aguon (11-6), Masatatsu Ueda (13-3-3) vs. Yuki Yasunaga (14-11-1), Ismael Bonfim (11-3) vs. Juntaro Ushiku (11-6-1)
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