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: Aug. 23
Watch Event: Future FC app (iOS and Android)
Henrique Silva (5-1) vs. Hugo Cunha (4-0)
Brazil’s Future Fighting Championships is only eight events into its existence, but the promotion has already emerged as a premier organization within its home country. Its eighth show is a perfect illustration of this standing, with a plethora of prospects and veterans in the mix. While heavyweights Hugo Cunha and Henrique Silva may not be the most experienced or accomplished fighters in the lineup, they do deserve some attention.
This is mainly due to Cunha’s undefeated run and his recent appearance with Titan Fighting Championship, an organization that can shine a big American spotlight on emerging talent. The 26-year-old is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a former member of Brazil’s national wrestling team. The Tata Fight Team product is also a training partner of recent UFC light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos. The “Silverback” made only one amateur appearance, which resulted in an armbar submission of Marcus Vinicius. He turned pro in 2017, but had a hard time locking down his debut fight. When it finally did come to fruition, Cunha demolished fellow rookie Robson da Silva with strikes in the first round. He continued to prey on debuting fighters with a submission of Kevin Costa and a knockout of Junior Silva. This led to Cunha’s spot on the Titan FC 52 card in January. He was tasked with his biggest test yet against fellow prospect Marino Eatman, and Cunha still walked away victorious, again by knockout.
Silva is yet another step up in competition for Cunha. “Montanha” has won five of his six pro outings since debuting in 2012. Unfortunately, the 34-year-old has been inactive since a 2016 starching at the hands of João Almeida. He was booked for a fight during the 2018 season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, but visa issues forced him out of the contest. While most of the BH Rhinos export’s victories have come against low-level competition, he does hold a win over current UFC standout Johnny Walker. He destroyed Walker in just 18 seconds, but the fight was a heavyweight bout.
While there are plenty of more established prospects on this card — Cleiton Duarte, Gustavo Erak, Rogerio Pitbull — Cunha and Silva have the benefit of residing in a division that is always desperate for additional talent. The winner of this contest will be well on the way to building a solid resume, whether it’s Silva adding to a record that already includes the Walker win or Cunha following up on his Titan FC appearance.
This is a close fight to call, too. Both men have tremendous finishing abilities. Silva finished all five of his victories with knockouts, and Cunha has three knockouts and one submission at the pro level. However, it’s Cunha’s wrestling credentials that sets him apart. Silva, who could experience some ring rust, will be eager to slug it out, but Cunha could bring this fight to the mat and finish with either a submission or, more likely, a ground-and-pound stoppage.
Other key bouts: Marcos dos Santos (31-13-1) vs. Cleiton Duarte (18-2), Gustavo Erak (21-4-1) vs. Rogerio Pitbull (8-0-1), Cleber Souza (18-8) vs. Vinicius Cruz (10-2-1), Augusto Matias (6-1) vs. Magnus Kelly (8-2), Nilton Gavião (15-5) vs. Luis Felipe (13-6), Caio Borralho (5-1) vs. Otávio Sagás (3-2), Gabriel Oliveira (13-2) vs. Alireza Noei (5-1), Caionã Batista (10-3) vs. Raul Marcos Amorim (4-0)
Event Date: Aug. 23
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Jason Soares (13-0) vs. Andrew Whitney (16-7)
Of course, we’d love to see more depth in the offerings from Titan Fighting Championship, but it’s hard to knock the top of the card for the organization’s 56th show. Two title fights and a kickboxing bout cap off the festivities, and one of those championship affairs happens to include a fighter who has regularly featured in this preview series, Jason Soares. The undefeated up-and-comer puts his featherweight strap on the line against 23-fight veteran Andrew Whitney.
Soares, who debuted in 2012 with a knockout finish of Daniel Hernandez, is obviously no stranger to anyone who follows the regional circuit and specifically Titan FC. He reeled off 10 victories and a featherweight championship reign during his stay with the Fight Time organization. “The Specimen” also had a failed bid on The Ultimate Fighter 22. After returning to defend his Fight Time title two additional times, the Freestyle Fighting Academy product finally ventured outside of the promotion in 2018 to challenge Luis Gomez for the Titan FC featherweight crown. Soares sunk in a rear-naked choke early in the fourth frame of their contest to claim the strap. He went on to defend the title with a first-round finish of Caio Uruguai at Titan FC 52 in January. The 29-year-old continued his reign with another successful defense, this time via a ground-and-pound TKO stoppage of Ariston França in April. He now has eight submissions and three knockout victories on his unblemished resume.
Whitney doesn’t have the sterling record of his opponent. “The Beast” has seen defeat on seven occasions, including three of his last five fights. However, these losses came against the likes of Farkhad Sharipov (in a Titan FC bantamweight title affair), UFC veteran Chico Camus and recent Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series fighter Steve Garcia Jr. The 35-year-old American Top Team protege has also tangled with Ben Nguyen and Cody Gibson prior to both men’s time with the UFC. Whitney has a fairly balanced record that includes seven knockouts and five submissions. His most notable victory, though, is probably his second-round stoppage of Anderson dos Santos, who would do enough to punch his own ticket to the UFC two years later.
Whitney has a problem with high-level competition. Nguyen submitted him. Gibson topped him on the scorecards. He only managed to split a pair of bouts with Bellator veteran Keith Richardson. Prospect Isaiah Chapman used him as a springboard to a short-lived stint with the World Series of Fighting. Sharipov and Camus also outpointed him. Garcia destroyed him via strikes. Only dos Santos and a number of veteran journeymen have fallen to “The Beast.”
If Whitney couldn’t get past any of those aforementioned steps up in competition, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which he emerges as the superior man when he faces Soares, who has become something of a super prospect. The undefeated champ has been waiting for the right time to jump to the big show. He’s talented enough to succeed once he gets there, too. Whitney is a longshot to derail those plans. Instead, he’s likely to tap to a submission hold from Soares within the first couple of rounds of this title clash.
Other key bouts: Martin Brown (13-5) vs. Beibit Nazarov (15-4) for the lightweight title, Michel Quiñones vs. Caio Uruguai in a kickboxing bout, Danny Sabatello (5-0) vs. Philip Keller (2-3), Shaheen Santana (4-0) vs. Lee Henry Lilly (6-3)
Event Date: Aug. 23
Watch Event: DAZN (main card), Facebook (prelims), Univision, UDN
Andrés Quintana (18-2) vs. Bruno Cannetti (8-6)
Combate Americas will be joined by the Tuff-N-Uff organization for this co-promoted effort in Lake Tahoe, Nev. It counts as the 42nd edition of the Combate series, and the lineup features some notable names, including Gustavo Lopez, Marilia Morais, Chelsea Chandler and upstarts Felisha Magallan and Lupita Godinez. However, it’s the battle for the vacant featherweight title that’s sure to catch everyone’s eye. Andrés Quintana is one of the title hopefuls, and he just has to get past Bruno Cannetti for a second time to start his title reign.
Quintana fights out of Albuquerque, N.M., but he trains at one of the city’s lesser-known camps, Luttrell’s MMA. The 28-year-old followed up an undefeated amateur run with a split-decision loss in his 2011 pro debut. However, he regained his footing with eight consecutive victories, including a first-round finish of future UFC fighter Yaotzin Meza in 2012. He then entered The Ultimate Fighter 22 competition, but he lost his first fight to Thanh Le. Following the exhibition defeat, “The Bullet” extended his official winning streak to 10 fights with a split decision over Jose Luis Verdugo and a ground-and-pound stoppage of Prentice Ingram. He was finished via strikes by Adrian Diaz, but quickly started building a new streak with eight wins, including a submission of Bellator and Strikeforce vet Rey Trujillo, under the Combate banner.
Argentina’s Cannetti face-planted out of the gates in his pro career. He debuted in 2009 and lost his first three fights. “Aquiles” recovered for four straight victories, including one over 26-fight veteran Paulo Beuno, but then went on another two-fight skid. Again, he managed to right the ship for four consecutive wins. However, one victory came against a fighter with a losing record and another came against a 1-1 opponent. The last win in this streak took place in a Combate fight where Cannetti fought Joey Ruquet and found the finish in just 92 seconds. It was part of a one-night tournament in which the 30-year-old went on to fight Quintana next. Quintana scored a first-round knockout of Cannetti and went on to defeat Alejandro Flores to close out the night.
These men may have fought before, but it was in the midst of a one-night tournament where each fight was slated for just one round. This put additional pressure on the athletes to finish their foes and advance. Now, Quintana and Cannetti can focus on each other in what’s booked as a five-round affair. Yes, this could change the dynamic a bit, but the differences should be minor.
Quintana has demonstrated the ability to finish fights — he has 11 career knockouts and two submissions — and his only struggles came in his pro debut, a TUF appearance and a fight where he got rocked by a solid veteran opponent. Usually, Quintana is on point, and he enters this fight with the added confidence of a previous victory over Cannetti.
Cannetti is inconsistent at best. The Argentinian fighter has experienced extended losing streaks, and his biggest victories came against the aforementioned Bueno and Ruquet. He’s already proven susceptible to Quintana’s striking attack, and now Quintana has the luxury of more time to put together his offense. With the pressure off, Quintana might allow Cannetti to survive a while longer than he did in their first encounter. However, it should still end in a knockout finish for the New Mexican fighter.
Other key bouts: Gustavo Lopez (10-4) vs. Joey Ruquet (7-2) for the bantamweight title, Marilia Morais (3-0) vs. Chelsea Chandler (2-1), Felisha Magallan (1-0) vs. Lupita Godinez (2-0)
Fight Club Cherdak 21: Mikhail Pogodin (11-0) vs. Sidemar Honorio (13-7)
Caged Aggression XXV: The Return: Mike Shipp (2-0) vs. Aaron Mitchell (5-1-1)
Shooto Brazil 94: Glyan Alves (13-4) vs. Elvis Silva (10-5) for the 140-pound title
Honor Fighting Championship 10: Fight Night Nautica 2: Josh Rohler (5-2) vs. Carl Deaton III (15-3) Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
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