Takafumi Otsuka (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Out of Obscurity: BAMMA 27, Deep vs. WSOF-GC, Pancrase 283 and ACB 50

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…

3Arena in Dublin, Ireland
Event Date: Dec. 16
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 (13-1) vs. Alan Philpott (16-8)

BAMMA’s 27th event is a unique one for the organization. Rather than standing on its own as a featured event, the card is a co-promotion with Bellator MMA’s Bellator 169. The BAMMA 27 card, including the bantamweight title fight between Tom Duquesnoy and Alan Philpott, will serve as the preliminary card for Bellator’s five-fight main card. Bellator MMA brass could take the opportunity to scout the bantamweight champ Duquesnoy for addition to its own roster.

Duquesnoy is the league’s super prospect. BAMMA’s featherweight champion dropped to bantamweight in 2016 after successfully defending his title in his previous two fights. The “Fire Kid,” who is still just 23 years old, destroyed Damien Rooney via strikes in just 82 seconds to post a successful bantamweight debut and advance to a title tilt with Shay Walsh. After just 75 seconds, Duquesnoy landed an elbow to knock out Walsh and capture the 135-pound crown. He has now compiled an impressive 13-1 mark that includes victories over Teddy Violet, Krzysztof Klaczek, Brendan Loughnane and the aforementioned Walsh. His only loss came in his fifth career outing, where he suffered a submission defeat at the hands of Makwan Amirkhani, who is now undefeated through three UFC fights. The young fighter has trained in combat sambo since age 12, has worked his wrestling with the French national team and has traveled to gyms in Europe and the United States to further hone his skills. One of his recent landing spots was Albuquerque, N.M., and the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp. He has a very well-rounded game and few flaws.

Philpott, 24, is also a young fighter with the potential for a bright future. However, he’s had several more setbacks during his career. The Irish fighter debuted in 2011 and reeled off three straight victories before starting a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs. “The Apprentice” has never topped that initial winning streak, though he has matched it once during his 24-fight career. Philpott appears to be the perfect target for up-and-coming prospects, given his losses to the likes of Joe Clarke, Mike Wooten and Ed Arthur, all of whom were 5-0 when they met Philpott, and Daichi Takenaka, who was 9-0-1 when he encountered and defeated Philpott at a Vale Tudo Japan event in June. The Next Generation Northern Ireland export has topped a few undefeated prospects, but he has no highly notable names on his resume. He suffered a loss to the aforementioned Rooney, who fell to Duquesnoy, and his most notable victories came in BAMMA title contests against Regis Sugden, Nathaniel Wood and Aaron Blackwell. Philpott has eight submission wins, but he has also lost by way of submission on seven occasions.

Duquesnoy has been a terror for opponents, both bantamweight and featherweight, while on the European circuit. The “Fire Kid” tends to get the jobs done with strikes — he has seven wins via knockout or technical knockout — but he has finished three opponents with submissions. While the blue-chip prospect’s only loss was a submission, Philpott would be lucky to snag a hold on Duquesnoy and coax a tap.

Duquesnoy’s combined skills will make him a nightmare for Philpott, who can’t seem to ever get on a roll. This fight is probably an audition for Duquesnoy to join the Bellator roster, or to potentially get snatched out from under Bellator by the UFC. The kid is ready for bigger things, and he’ll prove as much when he rolls through Philpott in the first round.

Other key bouts: Chris Fields (11-7-1) vs. Andy Clamp (8-1) for the light heavyweight title, Rhys McKee (4-0) vs. Jai Herbert (4-0) for the Lonsdale lightweight title, Walter Gahadza (16-0) vs. Nathan Jones (9-5), Kiefer Crosbie (1-0) vs. Conor Riordan (0-0), Terry Brazier (6-1) vs. Niklas Stolze (7-1)

Deep Cage Impact 2016: Deep vs. WSOF-GC
Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: Dec. 17
Website: deep2001.com and WSOF-GC
Watch Event: WSOF-GC
Twitter: @deep_official and @wsofglobal

Spotlight Fight:
Takafumi Otsuka (21-13-2) vs. Fernando Vieira (12-2)

The World Series of Fighting has a global wing. It works independently of its U.S. counterpart to advance the WSOF brand in other parts of the world. This weekend, its stars battle the stars of the Japanese Deep organization. The lineup for the event includes three significant title affairs, including the showdown between Takafumi Otsuka and Fernando Vieira for the vacant bantamweight strap.

Otsuka is a veteran and Deep mainstay who has been part of the title fray in the organization for a number of years now. The 30-year-old debuted in 2006 and lost his first two pro fights, but he was challenging for gold by 2009. Otsuka, whose Dream appearances included two losing efforts against elite bantamweight Bibiano Fernandes, captured the Deep featherweight strap with a victory over Dokonjonosuke Mishima in 2009, but lost the belt in a 2010 title defense. In 2011, he set his sights on the bantamweight strap and captured the title with a win over Hiroshi Nakamura. He has since captured the championship on one other occasion and made two successful defenses. Now, he’ll try to succeed in achieving a third title reign in the division. The AACC product has a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and high school wrestling (in Japan). He advanced to the semifinals of the Cup of China as a high school wrestler and also placed as a runner-up in the Greco-Roman National High School Championship. The 36-fight veteran has scored wins over such notables as Leandro Issa, Masanori Kanehara, Hiroshi Nakamura and Toshiaki Kitada, but he’s tasted defeat at the hands of the aforementioned Kitada and Fernandes, as well as former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos, Koichiro Matsumoto, Yoshiro Maeda (twice) and Shintaro Ishiwatari. He’s a decision-heavy fighter who has gone the distance in 25 contests, with 14 wins, nine losses and two draws on the scorecards.

The 33-year-old Vieira, despite a 12-2 record, is much more of an unknown in the world of MMA. “Fernandinho” made his pro debut in 2004, but he’s gone through long stretches of inactivity throughout his career. Still, it’s hard to discount a fighter whose only losses came against former Bellator featherweight kingpin Patricio Freire and The Ultimate Fighter 14 winner Diego Brandão. Those losses came early in Vieira’s career, and he’s also registered wins over the likes of Gilmar Dutra Lima, UFC veteran Martin Svensson, WSOF vet Tyson Nam and the previously undefeated Bruno Viana. The Evolução Thai MMA fighter has scored seven submission finishes.

Otsuka is a tough and experienced competitor, but Vieira has looked impressive in his slow climb up the MMA ladder. His inactivity doesn’t come without an explanation: Vieira is a BJJ black belt with numerous world championships to his name. This doesn’t bode well for a wrestler and grappler like Otsuka, who has suffered several submission losses.

The Japanese fighter will be severely outclassed on the ground in this match-up. He’ll have to try to grind his way to a decision victory while avoiding an elite grappler who has made a habit of tapping some decent competition. The Brazilian, who has also coached grappling at Universidade da Luta, should edge Otsuka on the ground while avoiding too much engagement on the feet. If Otsuka avoids the submission attempts of Vieira and makes it to the final bell, then this could be a close decision. However, Otsuka’s history of submission losses suggests he won’t be so lucky. Vieira should wrap him up with a choke midway through this title fight.

Other key bouts: Yusaku Nakamura (13-4-1) vs. Lawrence Diguilio (18-7-1) for the flyweight title, Tatsunao Nagakura (12-5) vs. Masakazu Imanari (34-16-2) for the featherweight title, Yoshiyuki Yoshida (18-8) vs. Yoshiyuki Katahira (9-4-2), Luiz Andrade I (18-17-6) vs. Shintaro Agatsuma (2-0), Taito Kubota (7-0) vs. Kazuhide Shirota (6-4-4), Makoto Takahashi (2-0) vs. Takuya Maruoka (1-4-1), Kimihiro Eto (9-2-2) vs. Shigetoshi Iwase (15-18-4), Koichi Ishizuka (11-1-1) vs. Toshiaki Kitada (21-8-4), Roman Alvarez (7-1) vs. Masanori Kanehara (25-13-5)

Pancrase 283
Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: Dec. 18
Website: pancrase.co.jp
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Takeshi Kasugai (20-4-1) vs. Rogério Bontorin (10-0)

The lineup for Pancrase’s 283rd showing includes a men’s strawweight title showdown featuring long-standing strawweight star Mitsuhisa Sunabe, a co-headliner that provides lightweight star Isao Kobayashi a chance to pick up another win over a notable veteran, and a featured bout that brings Marlon Sandro back into the Pancrase fold. There’s an additional hidden gem further down the lineup that pairs flyweight veteran Takeshi Kasugai against undefeated prospect Rogério Bontorin.

The 28-year-old Kasugai made his pro debut in 2009 and went just 4-2-1 over his first seven outings. He got on a roll in 2011 that led to a 10-fight winning streak, which included eight straight stoppages. He finally stumbled again in 2014 while competing in a Vale Tudo Japan tournament. He held his own against Hiromasa Ogikubo, a recent finalist in the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter tournament to determine a title challenger for Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Kasugai lost his fight with Ogikubo, but it was very close, ending in a majority decision. Kasugai bounced back against UFC veteran Motonobu Tezuka before suffering a unanimous decision loss to the rather mediocre Min Jong Song. The Shimura Dojo export recovered from his second defeat in three fights and has gone on to claim victory in five straight outings. His recent streak includes an additional win over the aforementioned Tezuka, as well as victories over established veterans Kiyotaka Shimizu, Yasutaka Koga and Kyu Sung Kim. The win over Tezuka came in a bantamweight championship affair under the Heat banner, and the victory over Kim came in a fight for the Heat flyweight crown. Kasugai is most notable for his finishing ability. He has 11 submission victories, one technical knockout and one knockout win.

Bontorin is a young up-and-comer who has yet to taste defeat since turning pro in 2013. The 24-year-old won six of his first seven fights by choke submission — the remaining contest went to the scorecards — before shifting to targeting limbs with his submissions in two of his last three outings, resulting in one heel hook and one armbar finish. The Brazilian has defeated veterans Israel Silva Lima and Ivonei Pridonik and handed Cristiano Souza the first loss of the prospect’s young career, but he has also seen his fair share of inexperienced and overmatched adversaries. The Noguchi Team and Gile Ribeiro product appeared in an XFC International flyweight tournament and most recently emerged as the winner of an Imortal FC flyweight tourney. He was set to make his Pancrase debut in October against the legendary Mamoru Yamaguchi, but he suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the contest.

If fans need a reason to tune in to Pancrase 283 on UFC Fight Pass, then here it is. These two flyweights tend to finish fights, so they should be rather aggressive in the cage. It wouldn’t be surprising if the UFC snatches up the winner of what could be an extremely entertaining grappling clinic. Combined, these two men have finished 22 of their 30 victories. Neither man tends to lose by stoppage, though, which could mean they see the scorecards. Kasugai’s experience against skilled veterans like Shimizu, Tezuka and Ogikubo gives him the upper hand. The fact that this will mark Bontarin’s first pro fight outside of Brazil doesn’t help his case either. It’ll be a close, competitive contest, but Kasugai will win the judges over with his combined striking and submission grappling attacks.

Other key bouts: Mitsuhisa Sunabe (27-7-4) vs. Daichi Kitakata (16-7-1) for the men’s strawweight title, Isao Kobayashi (19-4-4) vs. Hiroyuki Takaya (21-13-2), Marlon Sandro (26-7-2) vs. Koyomi Matsushima (6-1), Shuya Kamikubo (6-1-1) vs. Daiki Gojima (8-5-2), Yuya Wakamatsu (5-1) vs. Yusuke Ogikubo (8-5), Ryuichi Miki (19-9-4) vs. Takahiro Furumaki (4-2), Ryo Yamaguchi (3-0-1) vs. Toshinori Tsunemura (9-6-4), Valmir Lázaro (15-4) vs. Genpei Hayashi (8-4-1), Yoshinori Horie (1-0) vs. Kaneaki Watanabe (3-4), Kohei Sugiyama (3-0) vs. Tatsuyuki Nakamura (7-12-3)

Absolute Championship Berkut 50: The Evolution
Sibur Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia
Event Date: Dec. 18
Website: Facebook/acberkut
Twitter: @acb_league

Spotlight Fight:
Magomed Magomedov (13-1) vs. Oleg Borisov (18-1-1)

Christmas comes early for regional MMA fans this weekend, thanks to a lineup that includes BAMMA, Deep, Pancrase and, finally, Absolute Championship Berkut. The latter promotion is set for its 50th event, dubbed “The Evolution.” True to its name, the card includes an incredibly stacked lineup that makes all previous ACB events pale by comparison. ACB has brought in top fighters Denis Goltsov, Aslambek Saidov, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, Beslan Isaev, Saul Rogers, Musa Khamanaev and Alexander Sarnavskiy for this event. And, of course, there’s the bantamweight title showdown between the league’s champion, Magomed Magomedov, and challenger Oleg Borisov.

Magomedov, 24, is nine years younger than the challenger, but he and his opponent have been competing consistently in the sport for almost the exact same amount of time. “Tiger” made his debut in 2011 under the M-1 Global banner and picked up a victory. He stumbled in his sophomore appearance, but he has been perfect ever since. The DagFighter product has notched notable wins over veterans Yuri Maia, Paata Robakidze, Bruno Dias and Petr Yan. Magomedov, who was signed to the World Series of Fighting in 2015 but has never fought for the promotion, has a mix of Sanda, kick-jitsu and wrestling in his arsenal.

Borisov has a head-turning 18-1-1 mark to his name. The 33-year-old did notch his pro debut win in 2007, but he didn’t start fighting regularly until late 2011. Overall, the Krepost Fight Club product won his first three fights before dropping a unanimous verdict to Timur Valiev for what still stands as his only career defeat. Borisov has gone a staggering 15-0-1 over his last 16 fights. This stretch includes notable wins against João Paulo Rodrigues, the aforementioned Robakidze, Filip Macek and fellow ACB 50 competitor Tural Ragimov, and a draw against Tomáš Deák. He has won nine fights via strikes, including a second-round knockout of Ragimov in his most recent outing, and one contest by way of submission. He’s a powerful and aggressive wrestler with obvious knockout ability.

Borisov can be a relentless takedown artist who has a stifling top game, or he can be a somewhat flat-footed, haymaker-throwing striker. When he’s standing, he does have a tendency to look like Kamal Shalorus, another strong wrestler who would wing in single punches in the hopes of scoring a brutal knockout. However, Borisov, unlike Shalorus, is more willing to transition between those haymakers and takedown attempts. One of the most notable attributes for Borisov, however, is his size. The Russian fighter was considered small when he was fighting at 145 pounds or above, but his 5-foot-3 frame is even short for the bantamweight division, where Magomedov will tower four inches above his opponent.

Borisov’s combination of wrestling and pure power will be a significant problem for Magomedov, but the champ is no pushover either. He could just as easily gain top position and control Borisov. However, it’s Borisov’s wild striking style that makes him a true danger. He finishes fights with his fists, and that could be the undoing for Magomedov here. The pair should be fairly evenly matched in the wrestling and grappling departments, but Magomedov’s chin will have to withstand the haymakers Borisov throws his way. Eventually, Borisov will land a jaw-rattling blow and put away the champion.

Other key bouts: Salimgerey Rasulov (15-6) vs. Denis Goltsov (18-4) for the heavyweight title, Aslambek Saidov (19-4) vs. Brett Cooper (22-12) for the welterweight title, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (29-5) vs. Albert Duraev (9-3), Beslan Isaev (35-8) vs. Marcelo Alfaya (17-7), Saul Rogers (12-1) vs. Musa Khamanaev (17-4), Alexander Sarnavskiy (34-5) vs. Ramazan Esenbaev (10-2-1), Donald Sanchez (31-15) vs. Adlan Bataev (6-0), Tural Ragimov (11-3) vs. Ed Arthur (8-2), Marat Balaev (6-0) vs. Carlos Alexandre (12-2), Ilya Sheglov (5-1) vs. Wallyson Carvalho (8-1)