Titan Fighting Championship returns to the Sunshine state on Friday, June 10, for Titan FC 39: Cavalcante vs. Healy. The promotion’s third event of 2016 features three championship bouts from the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Fla.
The main event of the evening features the return of former champion Pat Healy, who will vie for the vacant Titan FC lightweight title against Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante. Healy has a chance to regain the title he lost to Rick Hawn in a split decision defeat at Titan FC 35 in September. Cavalcante, who will be making his Titan FC debut, is looking to begin his first winning streak since taking top honors in the K-1 Hero’s tournament in 2007.
In the co-headliner, Andre Harrison puts his featherweight title on the line for the third time since capturing Titan FC gold 11 months ago. Harrison is defending his belt against Brazilian fighter Deivison “Dragon” Ribeiro. Both fighters bring strong resumes and impressive winning streaks heading into what is primed to be an exciting back-and-forth fight.
When undefeated prospect Belal Muhammad moved on to the UFC, the former champion vacated his Titan FC welterweight belt. The vacant title is up for grabs when two former UFC fighters clash for a chance to start their climb back to the world’s biggest promotion. The Ultimate Fighter 19 runner-up Dhiego Lima makes his Titan FC debut after returning to the win column at Legacy FC 53 in April. David Michaud had a similar route to this title opportunity. He won his first fight since being cut by the UFC when he submitted Chris Hugh at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 37 in April.
If three title fights weren’t enough action, the rest of the fight card features skilled veterans and rising prospects. UFC and Strikeforce vet Kurt Holobaugh returns to lightweight after losing the Titan FC featherweight title to the aforementioned Harrison and dropping a decision to Bellator veteran Frodo Khasbulaev in Russia earlier this year. Holobaugh welcomes Titan FC veteran Luciano dos Santos back to the cage after the Brazilian fell short to Robert Washington at Titan FC 33.
WEC veteran and The Ultimate Fighter 14 cast member Micah Miller will attempt to make a name for himself and finally earn his place inside of the UFC with an impressive outing against Fire and Ice FC welterweight champion Kenny Gaudreau.
Bellator bantamweight tournament finalist Alexis Vila is fighting off father time in his quest to become one of the world’s best flyweights. If he hopes to finally achieve his dreams of being a champion, Vila must get past a fighter half his age when he meets 22-year-old Puerto Rican prospect Abdiel “The Nightmare” Velazquez.
Carina Damm, one of the longest tenured fighters in women’s MMA, makes her Titan FC debut after compiling a strong resume over nearly 12 years of fighting. Damm is facing rising American prospect Sarah Alpar on her quest for another championship belt.
LW Championship: Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante (19-8-1) vs. Pat Healy (30-21)
Healy is a 32-year-old lightweight training out of the Sports Lab in Oregon. He has made a career resurgence of sorts since his departure from the UFC following some ups and downs. Healy entered the win column just once in five UFC fights, but despite getting his hand raised in a wild “Fight of the Night” against Jim Miller, his post-fight positive test for marijuana took away much more than the lucrative bonus Healy received. Healy lost his next four fights against some of the best fighters in the world’s top promotion.
Healy struggled in his first bout outside of the UFC against Bellator veteran Ricardo Tirloni at Arena Tour 4. Healy took a brutal knee to the liver and survived some nerve-racking exchanges in the first frame. Tirloni tested Healy on the mat and the feet before the grizzled vet did what he does best inside of the cage by grinding out the win. Healy picked up the Titan FC lightweight title in his promotional debut against the previously unbeaten Kurt Kinser at Titan FC 33. He kept the belt with a win over former UFC fighter Marcus Edwards in his next bout. Healy tasted defeat after a close five-round contest with Bellator welterweight tournament winner Rick Hawn at Titan FC 35 before re-entering the win column with a dominant decision victory over Muhsin Corbbrey.
Cavalcante, 32, was once considered to be one of the world’s top lightweights. During a stretch from 2004 to 2007, he won 12 of his 13 bouts with his lone setback coming via a draw with longtime veteran Ryan Schultz. Cavalcante picked up wins over WEC vet Bart Palaszewski and former UFC fighter Michihiro Omigawa before making his return to Japan with the K-1 Hero’s promotion. K-1 was attempting to compete with Pride Fighting Championship’s 161-pound division by creating a 154-pound tournament featuring many of the world’s up-and-coming lightweight talents. Cavalcante tore through every fighter put in front of him. He won seven of his eight fights in the first round, skyrocketing his stock to the top of the heap following losses by some of the world’s top lightweights, including Takanori Gomi, Hayato Sakurai and Yves Edwards.
Injuries played a major role in Cavalcante’s career following his 13-fight unbeaten stretch. He entered the Dream lightweight grand prix with the hopes of continuing his success, but he was disqualified following three elbow strikes to the spine of his first opponent, Shinya Aoki. His misfortunes continued in the rematch when he had Aoki nearly unconscious in the early going with a relentless barrage of heavy punches and hammer fists. Aoki survived and came back to have his hand raised over the elite lightweight. Cavalcante’s career would have its ups and downs over the next six years. Cavalcante found the win column only four times over the next four years while fighting in Strikeforce and the World Series of Fighting.
Cavalcante went to war with current WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje before he established his impressive unbeaten run inside of the promotion. Gaethje pushed Cavalcante to the brink of defeat with powerful strikes against the cage, but the tough Brazilian fought his way back in a wild first round. Gaethje landed one sharp elbow strike that opened up a massive cut on the forehead of JZ, forcing the doctor to call a stop to the action. Cavalcante picked up a quality win in his next bout when he stopped former UFC lightweight Tyson Griffin with ground-and-pound in the third round. His attempt at his first winning streak in over seven years was halted once again when he faced UFC veteran Melvin Guillard. Guillard landed effective strikes during the hotly contested exchanges before hurting Cavalcante with a series of strikes that led to a TKO stoppage. If the fight had higher stakes, maybe the referee would have given Cavalcante the opportunity to fight his way back into the contest.
Cavalcante split his time over the past year with the Blackzilians camp in Florida and Phuket Top Team in Thailand. He trained with high-level fighters in both camps, continuing his evolution as a fighter. He heads into his biggest opportunity in years with a chance to capture the Titan FC lightweight title and start his first winning streak in nearly nine years.
Cavalcante is a good striker who no longer employs the incredible athletic abilities he showcased in his early career. He has evolved to become a counter striker who likes to use his takedowns to grind out opponents with ground-and-pound while looking to lock up a submission or land a devastating fight-ending strike. Cavalcante showcased his grappling ability when he locked up a leg lock in a recent outing against T.J. O’Brien. Healy won’t offer Cavalcante much in terms of athleticism himself, but he isn’t lacking in the grit and toughness departments. Healy will survive whatever early onslaught his opponent offers him and fight back even stronger as the clock ticks down. Healy isn’t the fastest fighter, but he is still one of the biggest fighters in the division, and this difference very well could play a major factor in the wrestling and grappling exchanges. Both men have high-level grappling games that they like to use to get on top and punish their opponent.
Cavalcante has struggled against heavy-hitting strikers, as evidenced by his setbacks in the WSOF and most recently against Gele Qing at a Ganryujima event in Japan, where JZ was knocked out with a vicious uppercut after a series of brutal knockdowns. Healy’s chin hasn’t fared much better, but his ability to recover and fight on has put him in the win column in his Titan FC career, a trend that may continue in this championship bout. Cavalcante’s work in the gym over the past two years will finally be on public display when he fights Healy on Friday evening. Cavalcante will be tested, and if he doesn’t show an ability to battle back, especially late in the fight, then he will lose. However, expect the Brazilian to enter his promotional debut and put on one of his best performances in recent years.
Fight Card Predictions
FW Championship: Andre Harrison (12-0) vs. Deivison Ribeiro (26-9)
Harrison by decision
WW Championship: Dhiego Lima (11-4) vs. David Michaud (9-2)
Lima by knockout
Women’s FlyW: Carina Damm (22-12) vs. Sarah Alpar (6-3)
Alpar by decision
WW: Micah Miller (19-8) vs. Kenny Gaudreau (6-4)
Miller by submission
FlyW: Alexis Vila (14-6) vs. Abdiel Velazquez (5-2)
Vila by decision
LW: Kurt Holobaugh (14-4) vs. Luciano dos Santos (10-7)
Holobaugh by decision
WW: Sabah Homasi (9-5) vs. Vitor Eustaquio (8-5)
Eustaquio by submission
BW: Lazar Stojadinovic (10-5) vs. Chino Duran (8-8)
Stojadinovic by decision
WW: Preston Parsons (3-1) s. Ignacio Bahamondes (3-0)
Bahamondes by knockout
FW: Raush Manfio (6-1) vs. Luis Zequeira (3-2)
Manfio by knockout
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