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: May 17
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Cesar Balmaceda (6-0) vs. Sidney Outlaw (12-3)
Northeastern region powerhouse Cage Fury Fighting Championships returns for its 74th show on Friday. The lineup features two title fights and a showdown between Joey Pierotti and Manny Walo. Cesar Balmaceda, the undefeated interim lightweight champion, is perhaps the most promising up-and-comer in the lineup. He’ll put his belt on the line against veteran Sidney Outlaw.
Balmaceda, who fights out of Cardo Urso’s Habu Pit, compiled a 6-1 mark as an amateur before turning pro in 2016. The youngster’s only ammy loss came to Mike Trizano, who has since gone on to an 8-0 pro mark and the featherweight championship of The Ultimate Fighter 27. At the pro level, the 24-year-old has been a fixture for Cage Fury. He has slowly climbed the ladder, starting with a fellow rookie opponent and building up to an interim title fight with 12-fight veteran Damian Norris in his most recent affair. The Atlantic City native took all of these fights in stride, scoring two finishes and three decisions in the contests leading up to his title bid. He needed less than two minutes to finish Norris and take home the crown. Balmaceda’s fists were also responsible for five of his amateur victories.
Outlaw is likely to be a familiar name to many. The 27-year-old has 15 fights under his belt, including appearances with Cage Fury, Ring of Combat, Bellator, the World Series of Fighting, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Titan Fighting Championship and Island Fights. The 27-year-old put up a 7-1 record as an amateur before making his pro debut in 2013. After three straight wins, including a decision nod over Mike Bannon at Bellator 118, Outlaw ran into trouble against Nick Browne at WSOF 13. The Renzo Gracie Pennsylvania product was demolished by Browne in just 25 seconds, but he rebounded with another two victories. His next setback was another quick one — a 46-second submission loss to Elijah Harshbarger. He couldn’t get back on the winning track in his subsequent fight, but he did manage to push current UFC fighter Gregor Gillespie to a split decision in a losing effort. Outlaw has gone undefeated ever since, with seven victories. He has four submissions in this span, but his Contenders Series opportunity against Michael Cora went the distance.
Cage Fury fans are in for a battle between a striker and a grappler in this one. Outlaw has only finished one fight via strikes, and that came in his debut against an 0-3 opponent. Balmaceda, meanwhile, has never notched a submission, but he was submitted by Trizano.
Both men have demonstrated the skills necessary to finish their upcoming opponent. If Balmaceda, who tends to fight at range and surge in with big two- or three-strike combos, can clip Outlaw, this could be another very quick and disappointing end for Outlaw. If the well-traveled vet can bring the contest to the ground, then the tables will turn. Outlaw has trained under Ricardo Almeida alongside the likes of UFCers Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza. His jiu-jitsu background is a true danger to Balmaceda, whose only weakness was exposed by Trizano.
Outlaw’s experience and grinding grappling game give him the overall advantage here. Balmaceda’s style could play right into Outlaw’s hands, too. As the interim champ surges forward, Outlaw could look to change levels and score easy takedowns. While Balmaceda’s power makes him a threat to finish a fight in a flash, Outlaw should be able to turn this into a ground affair and eventually find the submission.
Other key bouts: Pat Sabatini (10-2) vs. Fabricio Oliveira (11-5-1) for the featherweight title, Joey Pierotti (11-1) vs. Manny Walo (13-3), Zulkarnaiyn Kamchybekov (2-0) vs. Matt Semelsberger (3-2), Miguel Junior Diaz (1-0) vs. Brandon Davis (0-1), Joey Tizzano (1-0) vs. Troy Sterling (1-1-1)
Event Date: May 18
Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Roberto Soldić (15-3) vs. Krystian Kaszubowski (7-0)
Poland’s KSW is sure giving the UFC a run for its money this weekend when it comes to stacked lineups. While the UFC rolls out a show full of contenders, KSW has a stacked show topped by two title fights. These featured affairs include a title defense for welterweight kingpin Roberto Soldić against undefeated challenger Krystian Kaszubowski.
Soldić is a Croatian-born fighter who trains out of UFD Gym Dusseldorf. The 24-year-old’s “RoboCop” moniker might make many think of the movie of the same name, but it’s also a nice little wink, intentional or not, at fellow countryman Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Soldić has been fighting professionally since 2014. He won his first four fights by stoppage before facing a setback in a decision loss to Marko Radaković. After rebounding with two additional wins, including one finish, Soldić tasted defeat again, this time by way of a split verdict against future Bellator fighter Yaroslav Amosov. The Croatian rebounded in spectacular fashion to win title belts in three different organizations over the span of his next three fights. Those three title wins, which included a victory over veteran Ivica Trušček, made up the first portion of Soldić’s streak of seven straight knockouts heading into his first encounter with Dricus Du Plessis. Before his defeat at the hands of the South African, Soldić defeated Borys Mańkowski to claim the KSW welterweight strap. The Croatian avenged his loss to Du Plessis and reclaimed the title in a rematch just six months later in which he stopped his adversary with strikes in the third round. He returned just a couple months later in a catchweight affair against Vinicius Bohrer, who proved to be no match for Soldić.
Kaszubowski has a far shorter resume in this sport, but amazingly he has been fighting at the professional level for longer than Soldić. The 24-year-old debuted as a pro in 2013, but he has only fought once a year on average. He decisioned his first four foes across a number of regional organizations before scoring a kneebar stoppage of Grzegorz Sanecki in late 2017. His streak caught the attention of KSW, which brought him in at its 42nd show to meet fellow undefeated up-and-comer Christopher Henze. Kaszubowski needed all of 70 seconds to hand Henze his first blemish. The Mighty Bulls Gdynia export returned nine months later for another quick KSW outing, this time needing just over two minutes to score the knockout of Michał Michalski.
Soldić tends to be a counter striker, but he has excellent combinations that slowly build up to overwhelm opponents. The Croatian stays active on the mat and looks to escape to his feet at any opportunity. His fights with Du Plessis were quite entertaining, and he’s certainly built a reputation as one of the stars of KSW.
While Kaszubowski hasn’t recorded quite as many outs yet under the KSW banner, he’s off to a great start. He scored a takedown of Henze and absolutely clobbered him with elbows from the top position, and he only needed to land one smashing forearm blow to drop Michalski to the mat. Now, he’s set to meet someone who will stand toe-to-toe with him and deliver an all-out war. If there’s one fight to catch this weekend, this is it. Soldić is the proven champion here, and he’ll further solidify his standing with a knockout in a complete slugfest.
Other key bouts: Michał Materla (27-6) vs. Scott Askham (17-4) for the middleweight title, Karol Bedorf (15-4) vs. Damian Grabowski (21-5), Erko Jun (2-0) vs. Akop Szostak (3-2), Antun Račić (22-8-1) vs. Paweł Polityło (4-1), Thiago Silva (21-9) vs. Martin Zawada (28-15-1), Norman Parke (26-6-1) vs. Artur Sowiński (19-10), Luis Henrique (11-5) vs. Michał Andryszak (20-7), Leszek Krakowski (13-1) vs. Michael Dubois (10-6)
Event Date: May 19
Maxim Shvets (16-3) vs. Leandro Silva (23-7-1)
Much of the ProFC 65 lineup consists of fighters who are still trying to make a name for themselves. The only exceptions are dueling welterweight Maxim Shvets and Leandro Silva.
Shvets is just 25 years old, but he’s already made 19 pro appearances since making his debut in 2011. The Ukrainian won just one of his first two contests, but he quickly went on an extended winning streak to bring his record to 10-1. As one of the regions biggest prospects, he was then pitted against Anatoly Tokov, who submitted Shvets in the second round of their fight. After a rebound win, the youngster stumbled again when he dropped a decision to Ibragim Tibilov, a middling 17-fight veteran. Shvets has righted the ship since then by avenging his loss to Tibilov and also adding wins over veterans Denis Genyuk, Dimitry Zebroski and Flavio Pina. The Oplot product has five knockout victories and two submission finishes, but he has also suffered two of his defeats via tapout.
Silva is now a few years removed from a UFC stint in which he went 3-3 with one no-contest. During his UFC stay, “Buscapé” topped Charlie Brenneman, Lewis Gonzalez and Efrain Escudero, but he could not get past Francisco Trinaldo, Jason Saggo or Rustam Khabilov. The no-contest came in a botched call by the referee where Silva was threatening Drew Dober with a submission, but didn’t quite have it. Since departing the promotion, the Brazilian has fought primarily in Russia, while also making one appearance with Titan Fighting Championship. The results have been mixed — he scored a 38-second knockout of Pat Healy, but suffered decision losses to Joshua Aveles and Ali Bagov. The 33-year-old American Top Team fighter is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with 10 submission victories.
Neither of these men have found much consistency throughout their careers, but their overall success has outweighed their failures. Silva boasts a UFC run, but he never even approached shouting distance of contendership. Meanwhile, Shvets has held ProFC gold, but he doesn’t have many notable victories. His biggest victories came in ProFC title bouts against Tibilov and Zebroski, neither of whom is knocking on the doors of the big show. The loss to Tokov doesn’t help his case either.
Silva’s time in the Octagon is very valuable as he enters this contest. The Brazilian went three rounds with Trinaldo and Khabilov. He came very close to winning the decision against Saggo, and had it not been for the referee, his fight with Dober could still have gone his way even if he failed with the submission. “Buscapé” has struggled against some mid-level veterans recently, so he can’t be considered anywhere near a sure thing in this fight. However, his grappling skills should prove to be too much for Shvets. This could be Silva’s first submission win in more than four years.
Other key bouts: Seymur Rzaev (3-0) vs. Mustafa Sharifov (0-0), Alexander Derkach (10-2) vs. Gatigadzhi Gatiev (2-1), Nikolai Baikin (16-9-1) vs. Armen Dzhragatspanyan (13-8), Shamil Gasanov (2-0) vs. Tamerlan Kabulov (7-8), Eduard Malkov (2-0) vs. Artur Malkhasyan (3-1), Roman Avdalyan (13-6) vs. Andrey Goncharov (7-3)
Road FC 53: A Sol Kwon (21-10) vs. Mansour Barnaoui (18-4) for the lightweight title
Full Contact Contender 23: Lerone Murphy (7-0) vs. Manolo Scianna (8-3) for the featherweight title
Supreme Warrior 1: Mauro Mastromarini (5-0) vs. Alan Parra (7-3)
Cage Legacy 12/Celtic Gladiator 23: Katie Saull (3-2) vs. Aleksandra Toncheva (1-1-1)
|Tyler Diamond vs. Jon Neal at LFA 66||Diamond by knockout||Diamond by decision|
|Tatsuki Saomoto vs. Ryota Sasaki at ZST 64||Saomoto by decision||Fight canceled|
|Dylan Andrews vs. Nico Musoke at Superior Challenge 19||Musoke by decision||Musoke by decision|