Every week, Combat Press takes a look at three regional, developmental and 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: Feb. 16
Watch Event: YouTube
Nah-shon Burrell (15-8) vs. Albert Tumenov (18-4)
The politics and bigoted views of Absolute Championship Berkut owner Mairbek Khasiev will always hold down his promotion, but his pocketbook has brought plenty of talent to the organization. Just look at the company’s 80th show, which features UFC veterans Leandro Silva and Takeya Mizugaki, as well as Bellator vets Alexander Sarnavskiy and Gleristone Santos. The welterweight headliner pits UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce veteran Nah-shon Burrell against UFC veteran Albert Tumenov.
The 28-year-old Burrell 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. Beyond those losses, he’s suffered defeat at the hands of Chris Curtis early in his career, strong veterans Lyman Good and Beslan Isaev, and recent UFC addition Tim Williams. He recently avenged the loss to Curtis, too, albeit by split decision. Burrell has 10 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’s faced a rocky road recently that included a unanimous-decision loss to the aforementioned Williams, a quick knockout victory over Micah Terrill, and a majority-decision loss to Isaev in his ACB debut. Burrell hasn’t seen a strong string of success against name opponents since his Strikeforce days, and his recent losses suggest that he might have already peaked.
American Top Team’s Tumenov had an extended stay in the UFC, and he found a fair amount of success there too. He made his UFC debut in 2014 following a 12-1 run outside of the promotion that included a first-round finish of Yasubey Enomoto. Tumenov came up short in his first Octagon outing, which ended in a split-decision loss to Ildemar Alcantara. He rebounded to score five straight victories, including three knockouts. In this stretch, he topped the likes of Nico Musoke, Alan Jouban and Lorenz Larkin. This led to a step up in competition for the Russian fighter, but he faltered against Gunnar Nelson and then lost to Leon Edwards to prompt his UFC release. The 26-year-old made his ACB debut in May 2017 and needed just 46 seconds to destroy Ismael de Jesus.
While both Burrell and Tumenov have made appearances in the big leagues, there is a clear separation in their levels of success. Tumenov ran into trouble on a few occasions, but losses to Alcantara, Nelson and Edwards simply signal a fighter who reached his ceiling just short of the top tiers of the welterweight division. Meanwhile, Burrell’s short-lived UFC tenure consisted of a decision win over Yuri Villefort and the loss to Thompson. Burrell’s Bellator run was equally underwhelming, and his best days in Strikeforce only tallied wins over Joe Ray, Lukasz Les and James Terry, none of whom went on to do big things.
The 26-year-old Tumenov appears to be leagues beyond Burrell at this point in their careers. The Russian’s recent weakness has been in defending against choke submissions, but Burrell has very little to offer in that department. Instead, we’re likely to see Tumenov overwhelm Burrell with strikes and add another knockout victory to his resume.
Other key bouts: Leandro Silva (21-6-1) vs. Ali Bagov (24-10), Igor Svirid (12-5) vs. Ibragim Chuzhigaev (10-5), Shamil Nikaev (8-0) vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy (35-6), Mukhamed Kokov (12-2) vs. Taigro Costa (13-2), Takeya Mizugaki (21-12-2) vs. Murad Kalamov (8-2), Gleristone Santos (33-8) vs. Islam Makoev (8-2-1), Ismael de Jesus (16-6-1) vs. Imran Abaev (5-2-1), Evgeny Erokhin (17-6) vs. Khanif Mirzamagomedov (2-2), Khusein Sheikhaev (6-0) vs. Evgeniy Lazukov (10-4), Rustam Asuev (6-1) vs. Juan Pablo Varela (13-7), Daniel Santos (7-0) vs. Dukvakha Astamirov (4-1), Amirkhan Guliev (7-1) vs. Ilya Bochkov (4-1)
Event Date: Feb. 16
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Jose Torres (6-0) vs. Alberto Orellano (6-2)
Titan Fighting Championship has been quiet since its 47th event took place in November. The promotion returns this weekend with its 48th show, which features one of its biggest stars, Jose Torres. The two-division champion returns to defend his flyweight strap for the first time in over a year. “Shorty” puts the belt on the line against Alberto Orellano on a card that features three championship affairs.
The majority of the Torres trophy case consists of titles won before the 25-year-old turned pro and signed with the Titan organization. The youngster is possibly one of the most seasoned amateur MMA fighters ever. He worked his way to an undefeated mark through an astounding 17 amateur outings. Many of these victories came in tournaments conducted by IMMAF over the span of a few days. Torres won IMMAF World Championship tourneys for the 2014 and 2015 calendar years, adding to a collection of gold that already included the American Predator FC, UMMAF and Midwest Fight League championships. His amateur run included six submission victories.
When Torres turned pro, he was immediately snatched up by Titan. He debuted as a bantamweight at Titan FC 37, where he submitted fellow rookie Travis Taylor in just over two minutes. His run continued at Titan FC 38, where he earned a unanimous decision over 16-fight veteran Reynaldo Duarte. Then, he engaged in an interim title clash with Abdiel Velazquez at Titan FC 40, which marked Torres’ move to flyweight. The KHK MMA Team product finished Velazquez with a second-round knockout to claim the belt. In early 2017, he made a successful defense of the crown while further proving his legitimacy with a first-round finish of UFC veteran Pedro Nobre. Next, Torres returned to the bantamweight division and unseated Farkhad Sharipov via unanimous decision to claim the belt. In November, “Shorty” defended the bantamweight crown with a submission finish of Gleidson DeJesus.
Orellano is much less accomplished than his super-prospect foe. The Colombian debuted in 2013 in his homeland and won his first three fights before stumbling against 8-4 fighter Juan Puerta, who handed Orellano a submission defeat. “La Boa” bounced back with a victory in his next fight and then traveled to the United States to make an appearance with Cage Fury Fighting Championships. Under the Cage Fury banner, Orellano went the distance in a losing effort against solid veteran Claudio Ledesma. The 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Barranquilla product returned to Colombia and the Striker Fighting Championship organization for two subsequent wins. He has two submission victories, but he tends to go the distance more often than not.
Torres is not only a decorated mixed martial artist, but also a champion in the realms of kickboxing and Thai boxing. Furthermore, he spent a long time competing in karate. He’s a well-rounded young fighter with the ability to one day challenge the likes of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson or T.J. Dillashaw for a UFC title. For now, though, he’s still plugging away at gaining pro experience under the Titan banner.
Unfortunately, the Titan promotion seems to be running short on quality competition to throw at its two-division star. In comparison to recent opponents like the aforementioned Velazquez, Nobre, Sharipov and DeJesus, Orellano looks like little more than enhancement talent. The Colombian has six victories, but the combined record of those opponents stood at 6-7 when they met “La Boa.” His most recent victory came against a rookie fighter. Meanwhile, Orellano’s losses came to a pair of fighters with a combined 20-11 mark.
Torres is head and shoulders above anyone Orellano has seen thus far in his career. Furthermore, the Chicago-based star is an all-around efficient fighter. He’s scored finishes in four of his last six contests, and this seems like a gimme fight for him. Torres should take down and beat up Orellano with ease. Given the gap in talent between these two men, a first-round submission seems probable for Torres.
Other key bouts: Raush Manfio (10-2) vs. Lee Henry Lilly (6-2) for the lightweight title, Rami Hamed (6-1) vs. Jose Caceres (13-7) for the welterweight title, Gustavo Balart (6-0) vs. Juan Puerta (14-6), Collin Lubberts (1-0) vs. Danny Durnavich (1-0), Uroš Jurišic (6-0) vs. Michael Cora (4-3), Pipe Vargas (5-0) vs. Alberto Blas (1-0)
Event Date: Feb. 16
Watch Event: AXS TV
Jaleel Willis (8-0) vs. Kyle Stewart (8-0)
Of the three events previewed in this edition of Out of Obscurity, Legacy Fighting Alliance’s 33rd event holds two distinctions. First, it’s the only card among the three that will air on cable television. Second, it’s likely to have the most closely contested of the spotlighted fights from this week’s preview, on paper at least. That honor goes to the headlining welterweight showdown between Jaleel Willis and Kyle Stewart.
Willis has a history of wins under more than one top promotion. After debuting in 2014 and posting five victories, “The Realest” moved to the World Series of Fighting and topped fellow undefeated prospect Chauncey Foxworth at WSOF 27. His next stop was Bellator 162, where he decisioned Omar Johnson in a 160-pound catchweight postlim contest. Most recently, the 25-year-old returned to V3 Fights and captured the promotion’s vacant welterweight title with a unanimous nod over Nolan Norwood. Willis has stopped four opponents with strikes, but he’s gone the distance in his three most recent bouts.
The 29-year-old Stewart posted a solid 8-1 mark as an amateur, only stumbling when he met future UFC fighter Justin Jones. “Gunz Up” wasted no time upon making his pro debut in 2015. In his first pro fight, he captured the World Fighting Federation welterweight belt with a first-round submission of Raymond Pina. His sophomore outing was a successful title defense that ended in just 12 seconds with a knockout of 14-fight veteran Billy Colon. In his fourth fight, he added the Fierce FC welterweight championship to his collection with a seven-second knockout finish of Mike Jones. He’s gone on to add four more victories, including a decision win over UFC veteran Estevan Payan and an injury TKO stoppage over The Ultimate Fighter alum and former Titan FC welterweight champion Jason Jackson at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. In his pro career, the Arizona Combat Sports export has five first-round finishes. This holds true to his amateur trend, which included four first-round stoppages and six finishes overall.
The younger Willis is no pushover. He’s experienced the big stages before and has yet to lose. However, Stewart is an intimidating force. “Gunz Up” has already added a pair of solid veterans to his list of victims, and he may well have landed in the UFC had it not been for the nature of his victory over the aforementioned Jackson. Where Willis prefers to grind, Stewart is a finisher who looks to light up his opponent early in the fight.
Willis has fared well thus far in his career, but his early career featured a number of sub-.500 opponents. Once he was tossed in the cage with quality competition, he changed from a finisher into a fighter who went the distance. Stewart has yet to hit that wall. He started out his pro career fighting a 4-1 opponent and has gone on to face solid opponents ever since. In fact, his worst adversary held a 7-7 mark when the pair met.
While the even 8-0 records of these two men point to an even affair, Stewart’s finishing rate and quality of opposition paint another picture. Willis will be on the defensive from the opening bell. The younger, bigger man has yet to be dropped, but Stewart is more than capable of changing that. The Arizona Combat Sports fighter won’t just come out with his guns up, he’ll have those guns blazin’. This one could end in a big knockout victory for Stewart that propels him into the UFC.
Other key bouts: Damon Jackson (13-2-1) vs. Chris Pecero (14-7), Ramiz Brahimaj (5-0) vs. Bilal Williams (8-5), Alonzo Menifield (5-0) vs. Brice Ritani-Coe (4-4), Isaiah Gutierrez (4-0) vs. Kevin Wirth (4-0), Maycee Barber (2-0) vs. Kaila Thompson (1-1), Devin Miller (2-0) vs. Jaime Anaya (1-5), Austin Lingo (3-0) vs. Omar Benjar (1-3)
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|Chance Rencountre vs. Chris Harris at C3 Fights||Rencountre by decision||Rencountre by submission|