Harrison (Jeff Vulgamore/Combat Press)

Out of Obscurity: RFA 30, BAMMA 22 and Titan FC 35

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…

Resurrection Fighting Alliance 30
Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.
Event Date: Sept. 18
Website: rfafighting.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @RFAfighting


Spotlight Fight:
Anthony Smith (22-11) vs. Brock Jardine (12-5)

In a weekend filled with title fights, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance’s lineup stands alone as the only major card of the weekend that doesn’t feature gold on the line. That doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high. Just ask Anthony Smith. The Strikeforce and UFC veteran has his eyes set on a second UFC run, and there’s no better way to earn such a berth than to compete in an RFA headliner. Smith will have to get past fellow middleweight Brock Jardine, another UFC veteran, if he wants to return to the bright lights of the big show.

Smith has had a roller coaster of a career since his 2008 pro debut. He kicked things off with a disappointing 5-6 start, but went on to win nine of his next 10, including his Strikeforce debut. He stumbled again when he encountered Adlan Amagov, but rebounded with a three-fight winning streak. In 2013, he had a horrendous year in which he lost all three of his fights, including his final Strikeforce outing and his UFC debut. After the last loss in the skid, which came against Josh Neer on the regional circuit, Smith turned things around and won two fights under the Bellator banner, one regional card outing and back-to-back title fights against Tim Williams in the Cage Fury Fighting Championships organization. Smith, who now rides a five-fight winning streak, has only seen the scorecards once over his 33-fight career while scoring nine wins via strikes and 11 by way of submission.

The Pit Elevated’s Jardine has had his own ups and downs since debuting in 2007. He won nine of his first 10, with the only loss coming against future UFC fighter Tony Ferguson. After a win over Blas Avena, Jardine entered the UFC, but that’s where things took a downward turn. He lost his Octagon debut to Rick Story and his sophomore outing to Kenny Robertson, leading to his dismissal from the UFC roster. Jardine joined Titan FC and continued his skid with losses to Daniel Roberts and Steve Montgomery. He returned to the lower levels of the regional circuit and racked up a three-fight winning streak. The 30-year-old has five wins via strikes and four victories by way of submission. Jardine has a background in high school and college wrestling.

Smith really believes he has improved since moving to Mick Doyle’s gym. Despite his numerous stumbles, he’s been a competitive fighter since he first appeared in Strikeforce. Jardine, meanwhile, has struggled against most steps up in competition. He came up empty in his UFC and Titan runs, and his most notable wins came against the aforementioned Avena.

Jardine will give up three inches in height and two inches in reach to Smith, but the Utah-based fighter is quite capable of overcoming a size disadvantage. Jardine has a tendency to keep his hands low at times, but he also has sneaky power and high accuracy with his strikes, especially a big overhand right.

Smith’s aggressive style could give Jardine some headaches, but it could also be the key to a Jardine victory. Smith’s best bet is to get this fight into the clinch and use his size to bully his opponent before eventually finishing the fight with strikes. Jardine works well when at distance, and his power could be a deciding factor against Smith, who faded badly at times in his last loss against Neer. Smith is a scrappy fighter who will never be completely out of the fight, though, which should make things interesting.

This will be a very close fight where both men will have their moments. Jardine would seem to have the power, wrestling and technical advantages to win the fight, but his track record against high-level opponents is troubling. Smith’s kill-or-be-killed approach means we’re likely to see a finish in this one, and his performances in the CFFC cage show what he’s capable of when he’s in top form. Smith might not have an easy time in this one — and a Jardine win wouldn’t be the least bit surprising — but “Lionheart” should continue his streak and make a solid argument for either an RFA title bid or another shot in the UFC.

Other key bouts: Adam Townsend (13-3) vs. Ryan Roberts (21-10-1), Darrick Minner (13-4) vs. Matt Brown (10-4), Zach Juusola (10-3) vs. Robert Rojas (9-4), Chance Rencountre (7-0) vs. James Nakashima (3-0), Kassius Holdorf (7-1) vs. Don Hamilton (11-4), Grant Dawson (7-0) vs. Clay Wimer (5-0)

3 Arena in Dublin, Ireland
Event Date: Sept. 19
Website: bamma.com
Watch Event: Spike TV UK (United Kingdom), Setanta (Africa), KIX (Asia), ESPN Player (Europe), AXN SciFi Russia (Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Latvia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan). Live preliminary card stream available online at Facebook/Lonsdale and main-card stream at Facebook/BAMMAUK.
Twitter: @bammauk

Spotlight Fight:
Tom Duquesnoy (10-1) vs. Brendan Loughnane (10-1)

BAMMA returns this weekend with its 22nd effort. The card features three title bouts and a ton of prospects. The spotlight shines brightest on the featherweight title tilt, which pits champion Tom Duquesnoy against challenger Brendan Loughnane.

Duquesnoy, despite checking in at just 22 years old, has already become one of the more established fighters on the BAMMA roster. The Frenchman debuted in 2012 and put together a 7-1 record before entering the BAMMA cage in 2013. He scored a stoppage win in his promotional debut and fought for the vacant featherweight title in his second appearance, defeating Teddy Violet by second-round submission to claim the crown. He made his first successful title defense earlier this year when he finished Krzysztof Klaczek via strikes in the third round. The young fighter has been training in combat sambo since age 12, works his wrestling with the French national team and travels to gyms in Europe and the United States to further hone his skills. He’s something of a super prospect with a very well-rounded game and few flaws.

Duquesnoy may be the BAMMA star in this fight, but his opponent might be more well known in the States. Loughnane competed on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in the show’s lightweight bracket, where he defeated Patrick Iodice before getting eliminated by Norman Parke in the semifinals. Both of the Brit’s TUF fights went to the judges, as have four of his official pro wins and his lone defeat, which came against Mike Wilkinson in Loughnane’s lone UFC appearance. When Loughnane does score the stoppage, it tends to come via strikes. He has four wins by some form of knockout and two victories via submission, but one of those submissions was due to punches.

Duquesnoy faced the toughest test of his career in his title defense against Klaczek, who exposed Duquesnoy’s weak takedown defense against a strong wrestler in the early part of their encounter. However, Duquesnoy made the proper adjustments to start timing his sprawl. His confidence was evident in the fight, and the prospect was even busy scoring with strikes while on his back. Once he neutralized Klaczek’s one strength in the fight, it was all Duquesnoy on the feet and on the mat.

Loughnane lacks the same dynamic skill set that makes Duquesnoy a buzzworthy up-and-comer. The TUF alum might be able to use his size to bully Duquesnoy in the early part of the fight, assuming he can keep up with the speedy champion, but he won’t be able to do it for the duration of the fight. Duquesnoy’s chopping leg kicks will slow Loughnane. The prospect’s speed and precision will allow him to land more strikes while moving out of the way of Loughnane’s punches.

Loughnane is a tough grinder, though. Even at the highest levels in the TUF competition and the UFC, he was never finished. Duquesnoy might have to settle for a decision here, but he will find the victory, regardless of how it comes.

Other key bouts: Chris Fields (10-6-1) vs. Christopher Jacquelin (6-2) for the middleweight title, Alan Philpott (13-7) vs. Regis Sugden (3-0) for the bantamweight title, Jack McGann (8-1) vs. Jack Grant (9-2), Karl Moore (5-0) vs. Paul Craig (6-0), Tim Wilde (6-1) vs. Stephen Coll (5-4), Kane Mousah (6-0) vs. Myles Price (8-5), Paul Byrne (5-0) vs. Conor Cooke (6-6), Marc Diakiese (7-0) vs. Rick Selvarajah (7-0), Manel Kape (6-1) vs. Damien Rooney (10-4-1), Catherine Costigan (5-1) vs. Celine Haga (7-13)

Titan Fighting Championship 35
Clark County Fairgrounds Event Center in Ridgefield, Wash.
Event Date: Sept. 19
Website: titanfighting.com
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Twitter: @titanfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Andre Harrison (10-0) vs. Desmond Green (15-4)

The move to UFC Fight Pass has seemingly reinvigorated the Titan Fighting Championship promotion. After an inconsistent run, the company is back to offering solid cards filled with a mix of prospects and veterans. The promotion’s 35th event is topped by a trio of title fights featuring UFC and Bellator vets. The most promising name of the bunch, however, might belong to a fighter who has never set foot in the Octagon or the Bellator cage. That man is Andre Harrison, who has made a name for himself across the Ring of Combat and Titan FC promotions en route to title reigns in both promotions. Harrison is set to defend his Titan FC featherweight strap against Bellator vet Des Green in the evening’s co-headliner.

Harrison made his pro debut as a lightweight in 2011. He transitioned to the featherweight division in his sophomore bout and picked up three victories at 145 pounds and a win at a 140-pound catchweight before competing for the vacant Ring of Combat belt against Matias Vasquez. Harrison put Vasquez away with strikes in the first round to claim the crown. After more than a year of inactivity, he returned and took a split decision win in a title fight against Jeff Lentz. The former NCAA Division II All-American wrestler signed with Titan and claimed decision wins in his three Titan appearances, including his title win over Kurt Holobaugh. He trains out of Bellmore Kickboxing Academy and Joe Scarola’s Gracie Barra Long Island, but he also teaches at Empire MMA in Queens. His training partners include UFC fighters Dennis Bermudez and Chris Wade.

Green’s professional career only started three years ago. His debut performance produced a win over current UFC fighter Rob Font, and Green went on to win his first six pro fights and nine of his first 10 before entering Bellator. The former New York high school state champion wrestler entered two tournaments during his stint with Bellator. His first tournament ended in disappointment in his very first fight, but he returned in 2014 and marched to the finals of the featherweight bracket before suffering a submission loss to Daniel Weichel. Green, who trained out of Team Bombsquad before moving to the Tristar camp, shifted his focus to Titan FC after the tournament loss. His promotional debut lasted just 46 seconds, with Green scoring a quick knockout of former WEC champion Miguel Torres. In his next outing, the 25-year-old outworked Steven Siler for five rounds to capture the vacant Titan featherweight title. He relinquished the strap in his first defense against the aforementioned Holobaugh. Green claimed a 32-second TKO victory over Vince Eazelle in a 150-pound catchweight bout to earn another shot at the title.

These two men have strong wrestling bases and knockout ability. Harrison is probably the more well-rounded of the two men, but he lacks the quick finishing ability that Green brings to the cage. Harrison also lacks Green’s experience. The Bellator vet’s resume is littered with plenty of notable names, whereas Harrison has only seen a few high-level opponents thus far.

That doesn’t mean Harrison is the underdog in this fight. He has to avoid Green’s explosive striking unless he wants to wake up looking at the lights. However, if Green can’t land the big knockout, things sway in Harrison’s favor. The Ring of Combat veteran has quick combinations that could send Green reeling, and his grinding approach to the ground game is on par with Green’s own primary attack.

This fight really comes down to wrestling and who can execute better. Both men love to grind away at opponents, but Green has added a new aggressiveness to his striking attack. It could backfire here, allowing Harrison to change levels, score the takedown and work the top position for five rounds en route to the decision nod and a successful title defense.

Other key bouts: Pat Healy (29-20) vs. Rick Hawn (20-4) for the lightweight title, Tim Elliott (11-6-1) vs. Felipe Efrain (9-1) for the flyweight title, Zane Kamaka (9-1) vs. Belal Muhammad (7-0), Austin Springer (8-0) vs. Steven Siler (26-14), Jason Novelli (8-1) vs. EJ Brooks (8-4), Ricky Simon (6-0) vs. Alex Soto (7-2-1), Jake Smith (3-0) vs. Taki Uluilakepa (4-1-1), Ryan Walker (4-1) vs. Trey Ogden (2-0), Sid Bice (4-0) vs. Shaine Jaime (2-0), Peter Petties (2-0) vs. Ikaika Tampos (3-0)