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. 20
Reyna Cordoba (6-0) vs. Anely Jimenez (7-3)
The women’s flyweight division has suffered a large loss of talent in recent months as fighters have shifted to the heavier bantamweight class or the lighter strawweight class in the hopes of making it to the UFC. However, the void is quickly being filled by the likes of prospects like Reyna Cordoba and Anely Jimenez. The pair are set to meet on Thursday evening at the 14th offering from Costa Rica’s Center Real Fights promotion.
Cordoba, who remains undefeated through six pro outings, has entered the discussion as a top-15 flyweight. Here at Combat Press, she checks in at No. 14. She’ll be competing in front of a home crowd in Costa Rica, something she has done throughout her career. Cordoba debuted in 2009 and maintained a steady fight schedule through 2010, upping her record to 4-0 and adding a key victory over the tough, albeit sub-.500 Molly Helsel. After the victory, Cordoba didn’t return to action until 2012, when she defeated Kelly Warren. She went back on hiatus for another two years before returning in June to defeat Diana Reyes. Her fight against Jimenez will mark the first time she has fought more than once in a calendar year since 2010. Cordoba, whose background is in judo, has three wins by some form of knockout and two victories via submission.
Jimenez entered 2013 with a record similar to the one Cordoba now holds. The Mexican fighter debuted in 2008 and stormed through her first seven opponents, finishing all but one. Then, in 2013, she had her first taste of defeat. After losing to Karina Rodriguez, Jimenez couldn’t seem to right the ship. She suffered two more losses to put her on a three-fight skid as she heads into this fight with Cordoba. Jimenez, who scored four submission wins and two first-round TKO victories during her undefeated stretch, picked up her wins against a group of opponents who now hold a combined 2-7 record. Her losses, meanwhile, came to a trio of ladies who now stand at a combined 6-2.
Jimenez has a record that looks great at first glance, but doesn’t hold up well under closer scrutiny. A drop to the flyweight division and a step up in competition crushed her momentum. She fought a lot of debuting pros early in her career, and many of those opponents have yet to take part in another pro fight since suffering their losses against Jimenez. Her lack of success against even slightly better competition doesn’t bode well for her as she approaches this fight with Cordoba. Cordoba might have limited experience of her own, but she’s encountered stiffer competition in the form of fighters like the aforementioned Helsel and Kelly Warren, which makes up for the fact that her other four opponents hold a current combined record of 1-4 and tend to fit the same profile as the fighters Jimenez has defeated.
Jimenez loves to utilize trip takedowns and slide into mount as quickly as possible. She has a dominant top game, but she can also be dangerous from her back. Cordoba will have to be wary of armbars, triangles and rear-naked choke attempts when engaging Jimenez on the mat. And this fight is bound to hit the canvas at some point. Cordoba has a much more aggressive striking game, but she doesn’t hesitate to go for the takedown if her opponent closes the distance. Her tendency, especially against a shorter opponent like Jimenez, is to execute a throw from a headlock and work ground-and-pound from side control or a crucifix-like position. However, Cordoba lacks takedown defense of her own—Reyes, whose build is similar to Jimenez, used the same trip takedowns Jimenez loves and planted Cordoba on the mat a few times before suffering the TKO loss in the third round—and the judoka’s grappling can be sloppy and land her in bad spots.
Cordoba is going to enjoy the reach advantage against Jimenez, and a stand-up war would allow the Costa Rican to batter her opponent and either score the late knockout or a decision win. However, between Jimenez’s strong takedown game and Cordoba’s own habit of turning a clinch into a judo throw, this one is bound to be partially contested on the ground. That’s where the tide turns in Jimenez’s favor. If she can avoid getting pinned in a position where Cordoba can simply rain down punches, Jimenez can work for submissions while on bottom and control the action while on top. If Jimenez is successful in taking down Cordoba, she has a strong chance to score the slight upset and grind out a decision win.
Event Date: Nov. 21
Watch Event: Live PPV stream at audiovideoweb.com
Jeremy Kimball (10-4) vs. Chris Camozzi (19-9)
The regional and developmental promotions are often a place for fighters to bounce back after faltering at the highest levels of the sport. This is exactly the opportunity that former UFC fighter Chris Camozzi and Bellator veteran Jeremy Kimball seek when they clash for Kimball’s middleweight title in the headlining affair of Prize Fighting Championship 7.
Camozzi is no stranger to the big show. He’s had two separate stints with the UFC. The first stint ended with a loss to Kyle Noke, who snapped Camozzi’s two-fight UFC winning streak. The Colorado-based fighter rebounded with a victory over Joey Villasenor under the Shark Fights banner and was picked up again by the UFC. He lost to Francis Carmont in his return to the Octagon, but then rattled off four straight wins. The streak prompted the UFC to call upon Camozzi to fight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Not surprisingly, Camozzi’s good fortunes ran out. He lost to Jacare, and then to Lorenz Larkin, Bruno Santos and Rafael Natal. Riding a four-fight skid, Camozzi was sent packing by the UFC. Now, the Factory X fighter will look to right the ship and add to a resume that features five stoppages via strikes and six by way of submission.
Despite a recent loss to Perry Filkins, Kimball has put up an impressive run in his last 12 fights. He debuted in 2010 and fell in his first two bouts, but he recovered to churn out four straight wins, including three stoppages that came within the first minute of action. After dropping a fight to Donnie Liles, Kimball went on another run that included six wins. UFC veterans Tommy Speer and Drew McFedries and RFA prospect Chidi Njokuani were among his victims during that stretch. Filkins snapped Kimball’s streak and handed the Team Wildman fighter his fourth submission loss. Kimball can be a wild striker, but his efforts have resulted in seven wins by some form of knockout.
Camozzi has been working on his wrestling defense, which should help him avoid Kimball’s takedown attempts. On the feet, both men like to throw a lot of leg kicks, but Camozzi is the more disciplined striker. Both men have suffered four submission losses, but neither fighter has ever been knocked out. Oddly, despite Kimball’s tendency to hunt for the takedown more often, it’s Camozzi who has had more success in finishing fights with submissions.
Camozzi’s four-fight losing streak is deceiving. He kept his fights against Natal and Santos close, lost a kickboxing match to Larkin and was steamrolled by Jacare, one of the division’s elite. He could just as easily have a 2-2 record through those four contests. His big-league experience is going to benefit him greatly against Kimball, a fighter whose aggression can cost him fights as he continues to progress toward facing tougher competition.
The stand-up war between these two should be a real treat, but Kimball will look for opportunities to take the fight to the ground. Camozzi’s improving wrestling and his ability to find submissions should give him a significant edge against Kimball’s wild style. Kimball is going to make mistakes and Camozzi is going to make him pay for those mistakes. This one could go the distance—Camozzi has seen the scorecards in roughly half of his fights—but Kimball would be fortunate to make it that far. The more likely scenario is a submission victory for Camozzi coming as a result of a Kimball takedown attempt gone awry.
Other key bouts: Jeremy Osheim (6-0) vs. Josh Stansbury (5-2) for the light heavyweight title, Brandon Griffin (3-0) vs. Tyler East (12-4) for the heavyweight title
Event Date: Nov. 22
Watch Event: The Fight Network. Live stream at tenplay
Corey Nelson (16-5-1) vs. Steve Micallef (7-0)
BRACE’s 2014 season is coming to an end. However, before the promotion calls it a year, it still has some championship gold to hand out. The promotion has six title tilts lined up for its 31st event. From bantamweight up to light heavyweight, champions will be crowned for the 2014 season. In the welterweight division, Corey Nelson and Steve Micallef will battle for the gold.
Micallef has had a start-and-stop career since debuting in 2007. Injuries have forced him to sit on the sidelines for long stretches. He fought once in 2007, three times in 2009, once in 2011 and twice so far in 2014. He started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and eventually moved on to MMA while training alongside the likes of UFC veteran Elvis Sinosic and current UFC fighter Anthony Perosh. Micallef has submitted four of his opponents. He also has one TKO finish and has seen the judges just twice.
Nelson, who recently left KMA Top Team, started his pro career more than a year and a half after Micallef, but he has competed in more than three times as many fights. “Major” rebounded from a three-fight losing streak to go 8-1 over his last nine fights. He has yet to secure a win over a truly notable name—Alex Volkanovski and Ian Bone are probably his two most significant wins thus far—but he has suffered losses to Ben Alloway and Robert Whittaker. Nelson has just one submission win to go with 12 victories by some form of knockout.
Micallef is going to look for takedowns at every opportunity. He’s capable of swinging for the fences, as he demonstrated in his fight with Hoshi Friedrich, but his specialty is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art in which he holds a black belt. Nelson’s violent stand-up attack is all the extra incentive Micallef needs to drag this fight into his world. Micallef is not a knockout artist—his one TKO win came due to a stoppage for a cut—and his best route to victory will be to control Nelson on the mat and hunt for the submission.
Nelson’s brutal flurries of punches, kicks and knees are his key to victory. He’s a strong fighter who has the wrestling necessary to score big takedowns of his own, but he’ll need to use his strength and wrestling ability to keep this fight standing, where he can throw big hooks and counters against Micallef. This fight should feature some excellent stand-up exchanges, but Micallef is going to attempt to tie up Nelson and take him down. Nelson should be able to power his way out of those situations, creating separation and throwing powerful blows as he exits. Micallef might survive Nelson’s attacks for a round or two, but he’ll eventually fall victim to a TKO finish at the hands of the veteran fighter.
Other key bouts: Jamie Mullarkey (4-0) vs. J.J. Van Aswegen (4-0) for the featherweight title, Rob Wilkinson (6-0) vs. Gerhard Voigt (6-4) for the middleweight title, Jordan Lucas (6-0) vs. Steve Reeks (6-1) for the bantamweight title, Abel Brites (4-1) vs. Ali Cevik (1-0) for the lightweight title, Michael Turner (3-2) vs. Connor Murphy (5-2) for the light heavyweight title