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…
Event Date: July 7
Watch Event: free stream at onefc.com
Istela Nunes (6-1) vs. Gina Iniong (7-3)
With the latest Professional Fighters League event taking place on the same day as this feature, ONE Championship takes all the spotlight for itself among mid-major promotions. The organization’s latest event, dubbed “Battle for the Heavens,” features a marquee match-up of kickboxers Yodcherry Sityodtong and Kai Ting Chuang for ONE’s Super Series Kickboxing atomweight title. Meanwhile, the MMA offering includes a flyweight showdown between Tatsumitsu Wada and Reece McLaren, but the fighter most worthy of attention in the MMA bill is Istela Nunes, who meets ONE mainstay Gina Iniong in a women’s “strawweight” fight. As usual, that divisional designation is in quotations since ONE uses a unique weigh-in system that technically makes these ladies flyweights rather than 115-pounders.
Nunes has just one loss through seven professional fights. The 25-year-old strung together six straight wins out of the gates after making her debut in 2010. Nunes did have a lengthy break between her debut and her sophomore outing in 2015, but she picked up the pace after returning to action with a first-round knockout win over Cynthia Cândido. Following a no-contest sandwiched between two decision wins, the Paraná Vale Tudo product added another knockout win and then migrated to the ONE organization. Her promotional debut ended in a decision victory over the highly respected Mei Yamaguchi. The win was enough to place the Brazilian into a title tilt opposite Angela Lee, but Lee found a choke submission in the second round to send Nunes home empty-handed.
Iniong is a female member of Team Lakay. The Filipino fighter also debuted in 2010 and then vanished from the scene until 2013. She floated through a couple of prominent Pacific regional promotions, including Pacific X-treme Combat, en route to a 4-2 mark. Along the way, “Conviction” dropped a decision to current UFC fighter Xiaonan Yan and lost via submission to current UFC fighter Cortney Casey. However, Iniong also eked out a split verdict over the aforementioned Yamaguchi. In 2017, she joined ONE and recorded back-to-back wins over sub-.500 opponents. Iniong finally stumbled in a rematch with Yamaguchi that ended on the scorecards. She returned to the win column in April when she decisioned Jenny Huang.
Iniong is a solid fighter out of the Pacific region who trains at one of the territory’s best camps. However, she’s an atomweight who is now technically fighting two divisions above her ideal weight. She struggled against Casey and Yan, and the difference in weights probably impacted her rematch with Yamaguchi as well. The Filipino fighter would likely fare better if she returned to 105 pounds and competed in either Japan or America’s Invicta Fighting Championships organization.
That’s not to say Nunes will completely steamroll her way to victory. The Brazilian secured a solid victory over Yamaguchi and suffered her only setback against the champ, Lee. However, her other wins haven’t exactly come against top-tier fighters. Only Karoline Martins qualifies as a true challenge on the rest of Nunes’ resume.
Nunes does hold an edge in power, and she’ll enjoy a two-inch height advantage over her opponent. Iniong will put up a fight, but Nunes should be able to bully her in the cage and walk away with the decision victory.
Other key bouts: Yodcherry Sityodtong vs. Kai Ting Chuang for the ONE Super Series Kickboxing atomweight title, Tatsumitsu Wada (19-8-2) vs. Reece McLaren (11-5), Changxin Fu (7-1) vs. Da Fen Tang (2-1), Zhikang Zhao (10-3) vs. Meas Meu (6-2), Shuya Kamikubo (7-1-1) vs. Sunoto Peringkat (9-3)
Event Date: July 7
Edson Marques (6-0) vs. Eduardo Correia (9-0)
This is the type of fight that initially inspired this preview feature. NP Fight has paired a couple of welterweight prospects with outstanding records but hardly any fanfare outside of their small corner of the world. Edson Marques stands as the company’s 170-pound kingpin, and he’ll put the title on the line against fellow undefeated up-and-comer Eduardo Correia at the promotion’s ninth event.
The 29-year-old Marques continues this week’s trend of fighters who took a lengthy hiatus after their debut outing. “Pânico” made his first appearance in 2012, but he waited more than three years before engaging in his second bout. The New Level Muay Thai Academy export marched through three opponents after joining NP Fight and secured the league’s interim welterweight title. After two knockouts outside of the promotion, he returns now as the official titleholder.
Correia didn’t start his professional career until 2014, but he’s been more active in his time in the sport. The 31-year-old has toured the Brazilian regional scene without ever settling with one company. He’s fed on plenty of rookies on his way to nine career victories, but he also defeated 15-fight veteran Pedro Henrique in his most recent outing to claim the Colinas World Combat featherweight crown. The Cia da Luta product is in high demand now — in addition to his upcoming NP Fight title bout, he’s lined up to appear just two weeks later under the M-1 banner in a fight against fellow undefeated prospect Magomedkamil Malikov.
If Correia makes it through these next two bouts unscathed, he’ll certainly draw the attention of larger promotions. Before his win over Henrique, however, Correia had defeated six rookies and one fighter who had just one pro bout, a loss, under his belt. Only one fighter — Sivaldo Alves — had an established winning record. The eight fighters Correia met before Henrique now hold a combined mark of 13-21-1, and much of that record still belongs to Sivaldo Alves, who now has 11 wins through 20 career outings.
Marques has taken a shorter but more difficult path to his perfect record. His first victory came against João Paulo Silva, who now stands at 9-2. After claiming a win over an 0-1 fighter, Marques returned to fighting veterans. He topped Jefferson Santos, who was 7-4-1 going into their bout, and then snagged the NP Fight interim belt with a win over Adercino de Jesus, who was 7-1 when the pair met. While his next victory came against a sub-.500 fighter who has not picked up another win in four subsequent contests, Marques again returned to quality opposition when he knocked out the 12-6 Guilherme Soares.
Correia has the better record, but it’s difficult to overlook Marques’ quality of competition. Marques has demonstrated his capability to hang with veterans who’ve experienced at least some success at the professional level of the sport. Correia isn’t quite there yet, and he needs to win both his NP Fight appearance and his M-1 outing to confirm that he’s a legit prospect. This might be too much to ask, though.
Marques has excellent stopping power and the track record to back it up. He should claim the knockout victory in this fight.
Other key bouts: Elismar Lima (13-6) vs. Sivaldo Alves (11-8-1) for the featherweight title, Naiara Pereira (3-0) vs. Mayra Cantuária (3-3-1), Raniere Silva (15-10) vs. Henrique Marques (7-0) for the bantamweight title, Maico Machado (5-0) vs. Jefferson Santos (8-7-1), Maria Silva (2-0) vs. Andréia Serafim (1-0), Lucas Almeida (5-0) vs. Wagner Santos (3-11)
Event Date: July 9
Viktor Nemkov (25-6) vs. Klidson Farias (12-2)
Not every international or regional card manages to take place on the weekend. RCC Boxing Promotions has chosen to host its third event on a Monday, but the lineup makes it an essential inclusion for this preview lineup. Big men Aleksander Emelianenko and Viktor Pešta take top billing, and the card also features the likes of Nikolay Aleksakhin, Elias Silvério, Márcio Santos and Vladislav Parubchenko. RCC 3 also shines a spotlight on a light heavyweight clash between Viktor Nemkov and Klidson Farias.
Nemkov is finally deviating from his longtime home in the M-1 organization. His quest for M-1 gold began almost as soon as his career kicked off in 2008. By his sophomore outing, the Kazakhstan native was competing within the M-1 promotion. He went 11-3 before getting his first crack at the vacant belt in a losing effort against prolific grappler Vinny Magalhães, who submitted Nemkov midway through the fight. Nemkov reeled off seven straight wins in the aftermath of his defeat and then fought once more for the M-1 belt, which was vacant yet again. This time, the Russian-based fighter emerged victorious with a submission finish of Vasily Babich. His first attempted defense did not go quite as well, however, and Nemkov relinquished the belt to Stephan Puetz in a razor-thin split decision. Again, Nemkov rebounded with a winning streak, this time through three fights, before rematching Puetz. The pair battled for five rounds and the verdict was no less contentious than in their first affair. However, Nemkov’s hand was raised with the majority-decision nod. The 31-year-old turned around and lost the belt via split decision in his very next match against Rashid Yusupov. The Red Devil Sport Club product bounced back with wins over Bellator veteran Attila Vegh and UFC castoff Ronny Markes. He is a Master of Sport in sambo and judo and won a sambo world championship in 2011.
Farias, of course, has a far smaller reputation on the worldwide MMA stage. The 25-year-old debuted in 2011 and picked up stoppage victories in his first six fights. He suffered his first setback in a knockout loss against sub-.500 fighter Peterson Leite. Farias responded with two more stoppage wins and a heavyweight championship reign with Samurai FC. The Brazilian’s next stop was the Jungle Fight organization, where he came up short in a bid for the light heavyweight crown. Farias was knocked out in the third round of his championship bout by Bruno Henrique Cappelozza, who was fresh off a loss under the Rizin Fighting Federation banner. Farias has gone on to add another four finishes to his resume while also capturing the Brace CF light heavyweight title. His list of recent opponents includes the formerly undefeated Leonardo Silva, successful Russian veteran Artur Guseinov, formerly undefeated German foe Timo Feucht and Canadian veteran Matt Baker.
These two men might not have tasted the UFC spotlight yet, but they are solid competitors who should engage in a grueling battle for the win. Nemkov’s long resume includes some very notable names in both the win and the loss column. The former M-1 champ is a submission specialist who has found 11 of his victories by way of the tapout and only four via knockout.
Farias is deadly with his fists, but he’s also pretty savvy on the mat. HIs biggest weakness thus far has been the durability of his chin, which has failed him on two occasions. Neither of the men who beat the Brazilian have turned into anything special, which does raise some concerns. On a positive note for fight fans, Farias has never gone the distance. It’s likely that he’ll enter this fight with his normal kill-or-be-killed attitude.
Nemkov has topped a former Bellator champion. He outdueled a UFC veteran who went 3-2 inside the Octagon. He engaged in two wars with top German prospect Stephan Puetz. He’s topped Maro Perak and Baga Agaev. While Farias has had a solid streak of his own over his last four fights, the Brazilian simply can’t compare to Nemkov. The Russian-based fighter could always get caught, but the more likely result in this one is a knockout victory for the veteran.
Other key bouts: Aleksander Emelianenko (27-7) vs. Viktor Pešta (13-4), Mikhail Mokhnatkin (10-2-2) vs. Kleber Silva (14-8), Nikolay Aleksakhin (21-5) vs. Elias Silvério (14-3-1), Mikhail Kolobegov (12-3) vs. Artur Astakhov (15-5), Márcio Santos (13-2) vs. Sergei Martynov (9-2), Evgeniy Ignatiev (10-2-2) vs. Vadim Buseev (5-3-2), Vladislav Parubchenko (15-1) vs. Alexey Gannenko (6-6), Svyatoslav Shabanov (16-6-1) vs. Aleksandr Grozin (9-2-1)
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