Every week, Combat Press takes a look at three regional, developmental and 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…
SSE Arena, Wembley in London Event Date: March 9 Website:bamma.com Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press and ITV4 (United Kingdom). Live preliminary card stream available online at Facebook/uniladmag. Twitter:@bammauk
Chi Lewis-Parry (6-0) vs. Stav Economou (18-5-1)
The 34th event from British promotion BAMMA is certainly its most stacked card in recent memory. Three very compelling title fights top the card, including a champion-vs.-champion headliner that pits BAMMA world welterweight kingpin Alex Lohore against BAMMA RDX European welterweight champ Terry Brazier. However, it’s the battle for the interim heavyweight championship that really catches the eye. The fight pits undefeated up-and-comer Chi Lewis-Parry against his toughest challenge yet, veteran combatant Stav Economou.
Lewis-Parry is now a two-sport star. The “Chopper” first made waves in the kickboxing world, where he holds a 4-1 record under the GLORY banner and also boasts one of the quickest finishes in the promotion’s history. On the MMA side of the coin, Lewis-Parry debuted as a pro in 2012 and reeled off five stoppage victories before signing with ONE Championship. Within the Asian organization, Lewis-Parry twice met Alain Ngalani. Their first encounter ended in a no-contest, but Lewis-Parry scored a first-round finish in the rematch less than two months later. He was set to meet UFC veteran Brandon Vera in the ONE promotion, but he was removed from the bout. This ended his stay in ONE, and it also delayed the continuation of his MMA career as he shifted his focus to kickboxing. In the MMA world, he landed in BAMMA, where he was set to meet Maurice Jackson in a heavyweight title showdown. Jackson failed the pre-fight medical exam, however, and Lewis-Parry’s MMA return was delayed once more. This fight against Economou marks his first MMA outing since July 2014.
The 31-year-old Economou has been competing professionally since 2006. After launching out of the gates with an eight-fight winning streak, Economou stumbled against future UFC fighter Karlos Vemola. He rebounded to beat future Bellator contender Linton Vassell, but he faced a rocky road from there on. He fought to a draw with Neil Grove just two fights later and then destroyed Bob Sapp, but he fell Phil De Fries. Another three-fight winning streak followed that included a decision nod over former UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez. His up-and-down road continued with a 4-3 stretch over his next seven fights. During this time, the “Crazy Bear” lost to Damian Grabowski, James Mulheron and even former UFC light heavyweight fighter Thiago Silva. The Sure Grip Vale Tudo fighter’s most recent win, a 65-second submission finish of Dan Konecke, came in his Bellator debut.
Economou is a finisher. He has ended nine fights by way of knockout and six via submission. Meanwhile, he’s only gone the distance in three victories and seven fights overall. His experience and resume makes him a perfect “name” opponent on the British circuit for Lewis-Parry. Economou does have a few big wins, Vassell and Rodriguez chief among them, but he tends to lose to the most significant opponents he’s met. He could play gatekeeper to Lewis-Parry.
Lewis-Parry doesn’t exactly have any big names on his own resume. Even Ngalani was just 1-1 when the pair initially clashed, and Ngalani now holds a 3-4 mark. The big kickboxer has been served up the type of fighters he can easily beat, but that could very well change when he meets Economou. The veteran has never lost via knockout, and he has a solid grappling attack. If Economou can take down Lewis-Parry, this might be a tough fight for the GLORY veteran to win.
Lewis-Parry needs to come out aggressive. He did work with the likes of UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez at American Kickboxing Academy in preparation for his BAMMA 31 fight that was eventually scrapped. That type of work with elite wrestlers might have strengthened Lewis-Parry’s takedown defense. Economou is just inconsistent enough to where a Lewis-Parry win is not out of the question. Don’t expect a big knockout, but Lewis-Parry should work the stand-up en route to a decision.
Other key bouts: Alex Lohore (14-1) vs. Terry Brazier (8-1) for the welterweight title, Tim Barnett (5-0) vs. Rhys McKee (6-1-1) for the lightweight title, Fabian Edwards (3-0) vs. Kent Kauppinen (10-2), Justin Burlinson (2-0) vs. Tommy King (1-0), John Nicholls (2-0) vs. Josh Plant (1-1), Colin Fletcher (15-9) vs. Walter Gahadza (16-2), Danny Randolph (2-0) vs. Dominique Wooding (4-1), Chris Miah (8-1), Dominic Dillon (4-3), Diego Barbosa (5-1) vs. Jonas Magard (8-4)
Mina Kurobe (11-3) vs. Satomi Takano (11-9)
In late 2014, Mina Kurobe was just an undefeated prospect with three pro fights under her belt. Her fourth fight came at Deep Jewels 6, where she met Satomi Takano. Kurobe won the fight and landed in the promotion’s featherweight (105-pound) grand prix. Now, more than three years later, Kurobe is the Deep Jewels 105-pound champ. She’ll defend the strap in a rematch against Takano at Deep Jewels 19.
Kurobe, 40, is a late bloomer as an MMA fighter. The Master Japan product, who has a background in grappling, debuted in December 2012 at the age of 35. She won her first five fights, including three by way of rear-naked choke submission. Her victories came primarily against opponents who currently sit right around the .500 mark, but the list includes Takano, Tomo Maesawa and Emi Tomimatsu. When she stepped up to face Mei Yamaguchi, Kurobe fell on the scorecards. Her next fight, which came against the Naho Sugiyama, also ended in disappointment when the scorecards were read. Kurobe regained her confidence with wins over MMA newcomers Hana and Renju Date, who had a combined 1-0 mark when they clashed with Kurobe. The Deep Jewels mainstay then stepped it up and scored significant wins over veterans Maesawa, Saori Ishioka and Sugiyama, whom she defeated for the Deep atomweight strap. Kurobe made a grappling appearance with Deep that ended in a draw with the aforementioned Tomimatsu. She made an unsuccessful bid for the vacant Road FC atomweight title when she lost via knockout to Seo Hee Ham, but she returned to her winning ways in late 2017 with a decision nod over Jung Eun Park.
Takano, a catch wrestler and judoka, kicked off her pro career with two victories before going just 1-5 over her next six fights. However, Takano’s rocky road included losses to veterans Yasuko Tamada and Masako Yoshida, as well as the aforementioned Sugiyama, Ishioka and Kurobe. “Sarami” then went on a three-fight winning streak in which she avenged the loss to Yoshida and picked up a two-round decision win over Maesawa. She lost three of her next four, but again the losses came against quality opposition in the form of Mei Yamaguchi, Tomimatsu and Tessa Simpson. Once more, Takano rebounded with a three-fight winning streak that culminated in a knockout finish of Maesawa.Then, she dropped a split verdict to Tomimatsu. In her most recent fight, Takano again defeated Maesawa.
Despite her age, Kurobe has proven to be a force within the atomweight division in Japan. She has defeated all but the very best opponents she has met. Takano remains little more than a .500 fighter who can repeatedly beat the likes of Maesawa, but can’t really beat any other significant opponent she’s encountered.
Takano has several submission losses. Her weakness on the mat is something that Kurobe can exploit. In their first affair, Kurobe was able to lock in the choke. It’s likely that Kurobe’s grappling will once again decide the fight. The 40-year-old should coax another tapout from her opponent.
Other key bouts: Reina Miura (7-1) vs. Soyoung Park (0-0), Kana Watanabe (2-0) vs. Yukari Nabe (3-2), Yuko Saito (1-0) vs. Tomo Maesawa (9-8), Tomomi Souda (1-0) vs. Yuko Kiryu (5-6), Mika Arai (2-0) vs. Pan Hui (5-3)
Extreme Fighting Championship Worldwide 67
Carnival City in Johannesburg, South Africa Event Date: March 10 Website:efcworldwide.com Watch Event: Live main card on kwesesports.com (Sub-Saharan Africa), Kwesé Free Sports 1 (Africa), SABC 3 (South Africa), TV Player (United Kingdom), Fight Sports (Europe and Asia) and efcworldwide.tv (worldwide). Twitter:@EFCworldwide
Igeu Kabesa (9-1) vs. Boyd Allen (15-3-1)
EFC Worldwide’s most accomplished fighters tend to reside in the promotion’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions. The league’s 67th show provides a showcase for two of those top featherweights. Igeu Kabesa puts his 145-pound title on the line against Boyd Allen in the show’s main event.
The champion is a product of the Fight Fit Militia. He has a background in wrestling. Kabesa has been an EFC Worldwide mainstay for his entire pro career. He debuted in 2013 and won six fights before challenging Danny Henry for the featherweight crown. It was Kabesa’s first fight at 145 pounds after competing mostly as a lightweight. “Smiley” captured the strap with a five-round decision over Henry. He made his first title defense against challenger Hanru Botha, who didn’t even last a full round with Kabesa. He was set to meet Allen at EFC Worldwide 57, but Allen was forced out and the organization booked Kabesa in a rematch against former champ Henry. Henry won the fight via submission, but he then departed the organization to join the UFC. Kabesa was paired with Pierre Botha in a fight for the vacant strap and scored the knockout finish to claim the crown.
Allen also works out of the Fight Fit Militia camp. He started his pro career in 2011 and got out to a rocky 3-2 start. He entered the EFC promotion in 2012 and established a more consistent trend of victories. Since debuting with the South African company, Allen has gone 12-1-1 and captured featherweight gold. His only loss in this stretch came to the aforementioned Henry. Allen’s strength lies in his ground game, which has accounted for 10 submission wins and contributed to four decision victories.
Kabesa and Allen likely know a bit about each other from their time spent in the same camp. Both men are skilled ground practitioners, but Kabesa is more likely to end fights with his fists rather than submissions. Kabesa probably has the stronger wrestling base, but he might want to use his abilities to keep the fight standing. On the ground, Allen could be too dangerous an opponent for a guy whose only loss came by way of submission.
Kabesa is quite capable of holding his own in striking exchanges against even the likes of the aforementioned Henry. He’ll likely display the better stand-up skills in this affair, but he gives up approximately three inches in height and more than an inch in reach to his foe.
Henry was able to wrap up a submission on Kabesa in just three and a half minutes. Allen is an aggressive grappler who will attack from the opening bell, but his own loss to Henry seems to have made him more conservative. He only eked out a split decision in his next fight against Leon Mynhardt, who has a lot of submission losses. He went to the third round in his next fight and scored a knockout finish. His most recent fight against a 3-0 opponent went the distance. This could be a problem. If he can’t attack Kabesa early and often, Allen might end up on the wrong side of Kabesa’s striking and wrestling attacks. Kabesa has some knockout finishes, and he could find another one against a more hesitant version of Allen.
Other key bouts: Danella Eliasov (2-1) vs. Chiara Penco (2-0) for the women’s strawweight title, Bokang Masunyane (4-0) vs. Connor Hignett (5-2), Reinier de Ridder (8-0) vs. Warren Allison (7-4), Steven Goncalves (4-0) vs. Trezeguet Kanyinda (2-2), Gunter Kalunda Ngunza (3-0) vs. Pietie Coxen (4-5)
While we try to feature just three events in this preview, sometimes we can’t fit in every fight that deserves attention. The coming weekend is a ridiculously stacked one, despite the lack of a card from the UFC or Bellator. In addition to the three events covered above, there are an additional five shows with very compelling fights that we just cannot ignore. So, here’s a quick rundown of those shows.
Absolute Championship Berkut’s 82nd card is perhaps the most solid lineup from top to bottom, featuring such notables as Carlos Eduardo, Daniel Sarafian, Matheus Mattos, Brett Cooper, Andre Santos, José Maria Tomé, Maycon Silvan, Allan Nascimento and Antônio Carlos Ribeiro. The show, which takes place in Brazil and can be seen live and for free right here on Combat Press via Fite TV stream, is headlined by a showdown between UFC veteran Thiago Silva (20-6) and Russian prospect Mikhail Kolobegov (11-3). Silva is attempting to drop to middleweight for this fight, but he could make for a quick out against the finisher Kolobegov.
In another event available via Fite TV stream, albeit pay-per-view this time, right here on Combat Press, M-1 Challenge 89 features a strong main event between veteran featherweight Ivan Buchinger (32-6) and rising Ukrainian talent Andrey Krasnikov (13-3). Buchinger used to be among the top prospects outside of the UFC, but he’s lost two of his last three and seems especially vulnerable to the knockout lately.
The Legacy Fighting Alliance is usually able to make the cut as one of the previewed events in this feature, but the organization couldn’t do it this time. That might have something to do with the LFA 35 headliner, which is more showcase fight than anything. It features the promotional debut of Nick Newell (13-1), the well-known former World Series of Fighting star. Newell hasn’t fought since 2015, but he returns to meet Sonny Luque (10-6). The 36-year-old Luque has won five of his last six outings, but he’s also suffered five submission losses in his career. Newell loves to attack with submissions, so this could be a short night for Luque. The LFA 35 main card airs live on AXS TV.
The Asian MMA scene delivers two events. The more prominent show belongs to ONE Championship. While the league’s stars are mostly absent from the “Visions of Victory” show, there are plenty of prospects to fill the lineup. Flyweight ladies Michelle Nicolini (4-1) and Iryna Shaparenko (11-2) have a chance to make a lasting impression when they clash. The 22-year-old Shaparenko has an impressive record for a youngster, but many of her wins have come against rookies or one-fight pros. The 36-year-old Nicolini has a much shorter resume, but she boasts victories over Lanchana Green and Irina Mazepa. Nicolini could bring her far younger adversary back to earth with a submission finish.
Finally, we shift our focus to South Korea, where Road FC hosts its 46th show. The lineup includes some familiar names, most notably those of UFC veteran Ronys Torres (36-5) and former M-1 champion Shamil Zavurov (34-5-1). Torres lost both fights in his UFC bid way back in 2010, but he’s gone 22-1 since then with his only loss coming against Brian Cobb at the very first WSOF event. Zavurov is going to be a tough out, but Torres is quite capable of getting a finish.
Last Week’s Scorecard
Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi vs. David Bear at Brave 10
Bear by submission
Al-Silawi by submission
Robert Watley vs. Brandon Jenkins at LFA 34
Watley by knockout
Watley by decision
Tomasz Narkun vs. Mamed Khalidov at KSW 42
Khalidov by knockout
Narkun by submission
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