Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Titan FC 40: Cavalcante vs. Assunção Preview and Predictions

Titan Fighting Championship returns to Coral Gables, Fla., on Friday, Aug. 5, for Titan FC 40: Cavalcante vs. Assunção. The 11-fight card features two championship bouts and a plethora of talented fighters hungry for the victory. The promotion is building a presence in the Sunshine state after an impressive showing at Titan FC 39 in June.

One of the headliners from the Titan FC 39 show, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, returns to the promotion just two months after capturing the Titan FC lightweight championship over UFC veteran Pat Healy. The win was the first time Cavalcante won two fights in a row since he was considered one of the best lightweights in the world in 2007. JZ is still considered one of the best fighters to never compete in the UFC. Cavalcante welcomes Freddy Assunção back to the cage after more than a year away from competition. Assunção puts his own eight-fight winning streak on the line when he moves up to lightweight to challenge for the title.

The interim Titan flyweight title is on the line when two-time IMMAF world champion Jose “Shorty” Torres risks his undefeated record against top Puetro Rican prospect Abdiel Velazquez. Torres turned pro following the 2015 IMMAF world championship, which featured four wins in a span of six days. The 24-year-old American picked up wins over Travis Taylor and Reynaldo Duarte in his first two pro fights, both of which were under the Titan FC banner. Velazquez earned his opportunity to fight for the flyweight championship with a decision victory over Bellator MMA veteran Alexis Vila at Titan FC 39. Velazquez, 23, earned an impressive uppercut knockout over Jamie Alvarez on his way to building his impressive resume. Velazquez has won two straight since dropping a five-round decision to top flyweight prospect Jarred Brooks.


Desmond Green returns to Titan FC after picking up two wins outside of the promotion. The Bellator featherweight tournament finalist and former Titan FC interim featherweight champion picked up a win over David Cubas during the opening round of the Akhmat Fight Show featherweight grand prix. Green wouldn’t move on in the tournament following contractual issues with the promotion. He returned to the United States for another victory over Dez Hill at FFC 24 in June 2015. Green welcomes promotional newcomer James Freeman into the cage. The undefeated Freeman replaces Frank Carillo on short notice. All five of Freeman’s wins have come by way of knockout.

Bantamweight Anderson “Berinja” dos Santos returns to the promotion following a victory at Titan FC 37. However, the win came with mixed emotions for the 31-year-old, who missed weight and ultimately missed out on the opportunity to win the vacant Titan FC bantamweight title. The Brazilian will look to earn a second chance at the title against Andrew “The Beast” Whitney. The American Top Team product won his past two fights inside the Titan FC cage against William Joplin and talented striker Cory Tait. Whitney can make a claim for his own title shot on Friday night with a potential fifth victory in his sixth fight with the promotion.

Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Derrick Mehman makes his promotional debut against former Cage Warriors heavyweight champion D.J. Linderman. Linderman replaces UFC veteran Jack May on short notice. Mehman, 31, makes his debut following his second unsuccessful title challenge at WSOF 24 in October of 2015. Both of the title defeats came in his past three fights. “The Caveman” holds victories over WSOF veterans Dave Huckaba and Rolles Gracie, and Strikforce veteran Brett Rogers. Linderman was victorious against UFC veteran Jeff Monson in a bid for the Fight Time heavyweight title in March of 2015. “Da Protege” picked up a win over Bellator veteran Carl Seumanutafa before dropping his last two fights.

Welterweights Sabah Homasi and Preston Parsons make quick turnarounds following first round victories at Titan FC 39. Homasi dismantled Vitor Eustquio with punches in just over two minutes. Parsons submitted Ignacio Bahamondes with an armbar just before the timer hit three minutes of the first frame. Despite being just 27 years old, Homasi spent time in Strikeforce, Bellator and participated on the 21st season of The Ultimate Fighter. “The Predator” is chasing the money after back-to-back victories in 2016. Parsons is chasing the opportunity to get to the big stage after finishing all four of his opponents in under one round, including his most recent submission victory in his Titan FC debut.

Titan FC veteran Bruce Lutchmedial fights late replacement Chino Duran after Edir Terry dropped out of the bantamweight contest. Lutchmedial made a successful promotional debut against WSOF vet Pablo Alfonso at Titan FC 38 in April. Duran returned to the cage unsuccessfully against Lazar Stojadinovic at Titan FC 39 after a slew of injuries and cancelled bouts over the past two years.

UFC veteran Ron Stallings takes on short notice opponent Rashuan Spencer after his original opponent, Bellator veteran Cristiano Souza, was pulled from the bout. Stallings, 33, returns to the cage for the first time since being cut by the UFC following a disqualification loss to Joe Riggs at UFC 191 in Sept. 2015. Stallings picked up a victory over Justin Jones during his time in the promotion, which he earned by taking a short notice bout with Uriah Hall. Stallings finished 12 of his 13 career victories. The 26-year-old Spencer has won three consecutive fights leading into this middleweight showdown on Friday evening.

Alexis Vila was once considered one of the best prospects at 135 pounds (and under) in MMA, despite debuting at the age of 36. The two-time world freestyle wrestling champion and Olympic bronze medalist defected to the United States nearly 20 years ago to pursue a life for himself and his family. Vila burst onto the MMA scene with a brutal left hook knockout of eventual two-division Bellator world champion Joe Warren. Vila would lose for the first time at the age of 40 against one of the best bantamweights in the world, Eduardo Dantas. Vila’s success dwindled as he lost his explosive speed. Vila has lost seven of his past ten bouts. Undefeated Costa Rican prospect Jorge Calvo Martin hopes to add to Vila’s loss column with a victory in his Titan FC debut.

The event airs live at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

Lightweight Championship: Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante (20-8-1) vs. Freddy Assunção (9-1)

Gesias Cavalcante returns to Titan FC following one of the best performances of his career in the past 10 years at Titan FC 39. The Brazilian celebrated his 33rd birthday with a first-round knockout of Pat Healy to win the Titan FC lightweight title. Cavalcante found success with his right hand early in the bout, and that was the strike that would ultimately close the show. JZ remained calm on the outside while he measured his much larger opponent’s attacks. Cavalcante threatened with his counter hook and circled off of his opponent’s power hand to keep Healy on the outside. This movement opened up the chance for JZ to sneak a powerful right hand through the guard of Healy. JZ didn’t miss his opening as he sent Healy crashing to the mat with the perfectly placed right. Cavalcante finished the job with a set of accurate punches as Healy fell to the mat.

The victory was Cavalcante’s second straight win, a feat he hadn’t achieved since a 13-fight unbeaten stretch that ended in 2008. Cavalcante spent the past nine years fighting all over the world in many of the top promotions outside of the UFC. However, he could never regain his top-10 form despite gaining victories over UFC veterans Bobby Green, Tyson Griffin, Katsunori Kikuno and T.J. O’Brien. The Brazilian hopes his consistency continues into this upcoming bout with the unheralded Freddy Assunção.

Assunção made his professional MMA debut against UFC veteran Felipe Arantes in 2009. Following a victory in his first bout, Assunção dropped his next bout against another UFC veteran Jim Alers. The submission loss could be chalked up as the typical prospect loss, usually a submission defeat at the hands of a skilled veteran early in a fighter’s career. There are many fighters who have taken such a loss and turned their fortune around, one of the prime examples being current UFC featherweight champion Conor Mcgregor, who lost twice by submission early in his budding MMA career.

The 31-year-old Brazilian returned to the cage winning his next eight fights with victories over UFC vet Kit Cope, Bellator veteran Kevin Roddy and WSOF fighter Brenson Hansen. Assunção impressed in his Titan FC debut against Andrew Carrillo at Titan FC 23. However, the Ascension Mixed Martial Arts put on one of his most impressive performances in his last outing against WSOF veteran Cody Bollinger at Titan FC 34 in July 2015. Assunção pulled off the slight upset of TUF 18 cast member with a second-round submission victory. Assunção spent much of his career as a featherweight, and now he moves up to challenge for the lightweight title.

Assunção is a solid striker that employs an, at times, aggressive counter striking attack. He likes to control the tempo of the striking battle by dictating the exchanges, whether that means leading, or countering his opponent’s punches after sliding just outside of their potential range. Assunção will feint and double up on his jab to keep his opponent on the outside. He uses this distance and his footwork to remain in his preferred range, which is just far enough away to not be hit and just close enough to be able to counter with a combination when his opponents miss. Assunção is quick on his toes, however he can be susceptible to getting hit with a lead right hand due to being out of position and dropping his left hand following an attack or movement.

That right hand may just be the recipe for success from Cavalcante. He used his right hand beautifully against Healy in his previous bout after setting up the strike in the early goings in round one. Cavalcante is a fast starter with many of his wins coming inside of the distance. JZ has finished 16 of his 20 wins inside of three rounds. Cavalcante has refined his striking offense with the Blackzillians and Phuket Top Team over the past few years. Those improvements began to show through against Healy, but that doesn’t mean the Brazilian can’t be stopped himself. Cavalcante was knocked out by Vitali Klatt at a Ganryujima event in July of 2015. Klatt landed a shot that put JZ on roller skates before finishing the job with one more final blow. Despite the loss, Cavalcante shook off the ring rust and made his successful return to MMA at Titan FC 39 after 21 months outside of the cage.

Both men will be vying to control the pace and tempo of the fight. Assunção is happy to sit outside and land frequent leg kicks in between his bursts of two- and three-punch combinations. Healy found some success pushing JZ towards the cage. Healy was able to land solid leg kicks and cut off Cavalcante’s lateral movement with just a small amount of pressure. Assunção isn’t the fighter to get right in your face, but he can certainly find a home for his jab and linear attacks. Cavalcante needs to stay on his bike and take full advantage of the opportunities Assunção gives him.

I tend to believe this fight will play out on the feet unless either fighter bites on a mistake that is too big to pass up. The fight becomes more and more unpredictable as the clock ticks down. Cavalcante would be better served to get this fight over with quickly, however Assunção can take a shot and then some. Hansen landed a flush front kick and clubbing head kick directly on Assunção’s neck during their WSOF fight and the young Brazilian barely flinched. Assunção has the tools to keep the fight where he wants. If he can stay consistent with his jab, mix-up his offensive attack, and avoid the right hand, he has a good chance to get the victory, especially if this fight hits the third, fourth and fifth rounds. I was one of the only pundits picking the heavy underdog, Cavalcante, to return to form in his last outing, and I will be riding with the assumption he continues his first winning streak in eight years. JZ finds a consistent home for his right hand and takes the title back to Coconut Creek.

Fight Card Predictions
Fight Prediction
FLW Championship: Jose “Shorty” Torres (2-0) vs. Abdiel Velazquez (7-2) Velazquez by decision
LW: Desmond Green (17-5) vs. James Freeman (5-0) Green by knockout
BW: Anderson dos Santos (14-3) vs. Andrew Whitney (14-3) dos Santos by decision
HW: Derrick Mehmen (19-7) vs. D.J. Linderman (19-11) Mehman by decision
WW: Sabah Homasi (10-5) vs. Preston Parsons (4-1) Homasi by knockout
BW: Bruce Lutchmedial (5-1) vs. Chino Duran (8-9) Lutchmedial by submission
MW: Ron Stallings (13-7) vs. Rashaun Spencer (8-8) Stallings by knockout
FLW: Alexis Vila (14-7) vs. Jorge Calvo Martin (8-0) Vila by decision