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: Sept. 13
Watch Event: AXS TV
Trey Ogden (12-3) vs. Nick Browne (8-1)
The 76th offering from the Legacy Fighting Alliance features the usual array of prospects out for some exposure in an organization that is often the launching point to a spot on the UFC roster. The attention usually centers on the headlining affair, which in this case is a lightweight showdown between Trey Ogden and Nick Browne.
The 29-year-old Ogden will enjoy fighting close to home. The Kansas City, Mo., resident has had a strong run, beginning with two successful amateur outings and continuing in 2015 with a pro turn. He won his first two pro fights before stumbling against fellow prospect Ryan Walker at Titan Fighting Championship 35. He returned to the regional level and took another three victories. This led to a spot on the Bellator 159 card, where the Glory MMA and Fitness disciple submitted Manny Meraz. After an additional two regional wins, Ogden made his first LFA appearance at the company’s 21st show. He alternated LFA victories with submission losses to Thomas Gifford in two Kansas City Fighting Alliance meetings. After his second setback against Gifford, Ogden righted the ship with a pair of victories, including one under the LFA banner.
Browne, who also checks in at 29 years of age, has a nickname that brings a lot of expectations with it: “Nyquil.” So, does he put his opponents to sleep? Well, sometimes. He has knocked out two foes and choked out three more — his other submission victory came by way of a kneebar — but he’s hardly steamrolled his way to an 8-1 mark. He had to squeak by for split nods in two of his victories, and he did lose a decision to John Gunther. Even his ammy run was peppered with decisions, including a couple of split verdicts. However, Browne has seen some tough regional competition, including Sidney Outlaw, Cameron VanCamp, Troy Lamson and Jeffrey Pelton. These fighters might not ring a bell with most fans, but they currently hold a combined record of 43-12-1.
Ogden has the longer resume, but Browne sure has impressed with the quality of opposition he has faced. Browne is still one of only three fighters to defeat Outlaw, and he did so via strikes in just 25 seconds. Browne is one of only two opponents to hand Lamson a loss, and that one took less than two minutes. So, while his moniker might be a slight exaggeration, the Uniontown Fight Club product is quite capable of scoring the finish.
Ogden’s eight submission victories make him an equally dangerous opponent. He has targeted his adversary’s neck early and often, accounting for most of those taps. However, his losses to Gifford do raise a cause for concern. In both fights, he gave up his neck in the first round and succumbed to a guillotine. If Browne has identified the mistakes that led to Ogden’s losses, he could replicate Gifford’s success.
Gifford found a ridiculous amount of success against Ogden with the guillotine, but Browne has never used that particular choke to submit an opponent at any level of the sport. Browne also tends to play it sloppy on the mat. He’ll look slick at one moment, but then give up position the next. This almost cost him the fight against Rmandel Cameron, and it will definitely cost him against Ogden. Given Browne’s tendencies, he’s either going to win in quick fashion or get blanketed and possibly submitted by Ogden. Our money’s on the latter.
Other key bouts: Chris Harris (11-4) vs. Joaquin Buckley (8-2), Eric Ellington (7-1) vs. Jacob Thrall (5-2-1), Tyler Ingram (3-0) vs. Corey Davis (3-2), Thai Clark (7-0) vs. Josh Augustine (3-0), Johnny Marigo (4-1-1) vs. Steven Graham (6-4)
Event Date: Sept. 14
Mikhail Ragozin (14-3) vs. Yasubey Enomoto (18-11)
The Russian Cagefighting Championship organization can sometimes play second fiddle to the company’s boxing interests — a glance at their Facebook page on Wednesday revealed tons of boxing posts and barely any sign of an impending MMA event — but RCC: Intro 5 is certainly an event worthy of attention. The headliner provides a perfect showcase for middleweight up-and-comer Mikhail Ragozin against Yasubey Enomoto, a veteran of the Russian circuit.
The 27-year-old Ragozin has put together an increasingly impressive resume since debuting in 2015. While his amateur run included losses to current UFC fighter Magomed Ankalaev and rising Bellator heavyweight Valentin Moldavsky, his pro turn kicked off with five straight stoppage wins and six straight victories overall. Ragozin then suffered a 69-second knockout loss to Wallyson Carvalho. He responded by scoring two TKO finishes. Ragozin’s next setback came against Brandon Halsey, but the defeat seemingly lit a fire under the Russian. He knocked out Joseph Henle in his next fight and went on to decision former Bellator champion Christian M’Pumbu. Next, he avenged the prior loss to Carvalho. He tasted defeat once more when he was narrowly edged out on the scorecards by fellow prospect Valery Myasnikov. The Fighter Gym export has recovered with three more victories, including a decision over Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series vet Leonadro Silva. Overall, Ragozin has five knockouts and three submission victories.
Enomoto is a well-rounded fighter with a background in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is decorated in both sports, with an IKBO Thaiboxing championship and a slew of European grappling medals among the highlights of his resume. The Swiss fighter has been toiling around the European, Japanese and Russian MMA scenes since 2006, but he has struggled to put together an extensive winning streak. The former M-1 welterweight champion and Sengoku veteran has never won more than three fights in a row, and his longest streaks all came earlier in his career. Since his 2013 loss to Albert Tumenov, who vaulted to the UFC with the victory, Enomoto has scored seven victories and suffered six losses. The 35-year-old was able to submit Shamil Zavurov and decision Igor Svirid, but he also stumbled against Alexander Shlemenko, Aslambek Saidov, Vladimir Mineev, Nikolay Aleksakhin, Aliaskhab Khizriev and Roman Kopylov. Enomoto has notched five submissions and three knockout wins, but he has also suffered three knockout losses and two submission defeats.
Enomoto has become something of a default gatekeeper who can occasionally post a surprise win over a rising star. He does have a dangerous grappling game that has led to his submission victories and contributed to an additional 10 decision nods. He has a solid striking arsenal, too, that has seen an uptick in usage recently and accounted for his two most recent wins. His biggest asset may be his experience against high-level competition. Enomoto has faced the likes of former Bellator champ Shlemenko, former KSW titleholder Saidov, Strikeforce and Bellator vet Tyler Stinson, M-1 titleist Zavurov (four times) and UFC vets Tumenov, Rashid Magomedov, Sanae Kikuta, Rashid Magomedov and Keita Nakamura.
Ragozin really turned a corner with the streak of wins over Henle, M’Pumbu and Carvalho, but he can throw up a stinker every once in a while. We saw it again when he was just edged by Myasnikov. While Enomoto’s recent competition has been solid, he might actually be Ragozin’s toughest test since the Halsey fight. The Swiss fighter doesn’t always win, but he’s certainly no cakewalk. Enomoto absolutely victimized Zavurov, one of the better fighters in the Russian circuit, and he’s gone the distance with plenty of very good opponents. Ragozin can’t take a minute off in this fight, and even if he doesn’t, he still could end up on the wrong side when the scorecards are read.
Other key bouts: Denis Lavrentyev (8-2) vs. Mateus Santos (14-5), Oleg Olenichev (12-6) vs. Alexander Podmarev (7-2), Arseniy Smirnov (5-1) vs. Sergey Yaskovets (8-4), Vasily Kurochkin (13-5-1) vs. Maxim Konovalov (9-3-1), Vladimir Palchenkov (10-2-1) vs. Anton Radko (11-4), Nikolay Prismakov (5-1) vs. Alexander Antonenko (6-3), Ravil Korobov (6-0) vs. Alexey Oleinik (21-16), Nikita Barkhatov (2-0) vs. Ivan Sopivskoy (2-0), Mariya Zdirok (1-0) vs. Natalya Dyachkova (0-1)
Event Date: Sept. 14
Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Phil De Fries (17-6) vs. Luis Henrique (12-5)
Poland’s Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki, better known as KSW, has gone big for its landmark 50th numbered show. The event includes three title fights, and it would have been four had it not been for an unfortunate injury that forced Patrik Kincl from his welterweight title challenge against Roberto Soldić. That welterweight clash was set to be spotlighted here, but with Soldić now set for a non-title catchweight affair against Michał Pietrzak, our focus shifts to the heavyweight championship contests between titleholder Phil De Fries and challenger Luis Henrique.
De Fries was something of a surprise winner of the belt when he crushed Michał Andryszak at KSW 43. Even more shockingly, he defended the crown against Karol Bedorf with a keylock submission at KSW 45 and Tomasz Narkun with a unanimous nod at KSW 47. While he’s likely to get overlooked for recognition, De Fries, with a win here, would be among the candidates for any “Comeback Fighter” awards in 2019. It’s an increasingly uncharacteristic turn for the Brit, who had previously stumbled through a rough stay in the UFC and a 3-3 stint immediately after his departure from the organization. The 33-year-old came up short against Stipe Miocic, Todd Duffee, Matt Mitrione, Satoshi Ishii and Ivan Shtyrkov. In an even more glaring loss, De Fries was finished in just 61 seconds by a sub-.500 fighter in late 2015, although he did avenge the loss with a first-round stoppage of his own in their rematch. The big man has a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background and an impressive 12 submission victories. He carries a five-fight winning streak into this bout.
The 26-year-old Henrique could look to De Fries for some inspiration. The Brazilian also failed badly in the UFC, where he went 2-4 overall and 2-3 as a heavyweight. “KLB” was able to submit Dmitry Smolyakov and Christian Colombo, but he struggled against the much tougher challenges presented by Francis Ngannou, Marcin Tybura, Arjan Bhullar, and even light heavyweight Ryan Spann. Since departing the Octagon, though, Henrique has won two fights, including a KSW matchup with the aforementioned Andryszak. The victory continued a pattern of success outside of the UFC for the Tata Fight Team product, who was 8-1 at the time of his Octagon debut. Henrique was a member of the Brazilian national wrestling team, and he, too, tends to win his fights via submission.
We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop on the career renaissance of De Fries. This was an inconsistent fighter even after his UFC tenure came to an end. It would be easy to chalk it up to the level of competition De Fries encountered both in the UFC and shortly after his stay with the organization, but he even dropped a fight to to Thomas Denham, who is now an appalling 7-11 as a pro. So, what gives? Perhaps his time at American Top Team has helped. Maybe training partner Paul Craig has also contributed. Whatever it is, De Fries has found his groove again.
Henrique makes for a solid, yet unspectacular challenger to De Fries. Yes, the Brazilian is a UFC veteran. However, his biggest wins came against fighters who have washed out of the UFC. Those two fighters, Smolyakov and Colombo, have also managed just a combined 1-4 mark since their respective losses to Henrique. Meanwhile, any substantial threat has been able to stomp out Henrique. While he’s able to effectively avoid submissions, “KLB” can be outworked or finished with strikes.
De Fries might have to go the ground-and-pound route if he wants a finish in this one. If he does coax a tap, he’ll be the first man to ever do so to Henrique. The Brit has three inches in height and five inches in reach over the challenger, which only adds to the list of things working against Henrique. If De Fries could get through Bedorf and Narkun, there’s a strong likelihood that he makes it through Henrique as well. Given his momentum, we’ll even go out on a limb and predict a TKO here.
Other key bouts: Tomasz Narkun (16-3) vs. Przemysław Mysiala (23-9-1) for the light heavyweight title, Norman Parke (27-6-1) vs. Marcin Wrzosek (14-5) for the lightweight title, Roberto Soldić (16-3) vs. Michał Pietrzak (8-3), Tony Giles (6-1) vs. Damian Janikowski (3-2), Jason Radcliffe (15-7) vs. Antoni Chmielewski (32-17), Dricus Du Plessis (12-2) vs. Joilton Santos Lutterbach (30-7), Catherine Costigan (6-2) vs. Aleksandra Rola (2-0)
Ring of Combat 69: Matt Probin (4-0) vs. Tim Dooling (7-5) Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Legend Fighting Championship 13: Zha Yi (9-2) vs. LiGe Teng (15-11-1)
Oktagon 14: Ľudovít Klein (14-2) vs. João Paulo Rodrigues (39-16-2)
Thunder Fight 19: Jean Matsumoto (7-0) vs. Eduardo Chaves (5-0)
|Ben Egli vs. Mark Lemminger at FFC 40||Egli by submission||Lemminger by decision|
|Jon Neal vs. Andrew Cruz at LFA 75||Neal by submission||Cruz by submission|
|Jung Young Lee vs. Hae Jin Park at Road FC 55||Park by decision||Lee by knockout|