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…
Mitch Martin (7-0) vs. Ben Watson (7-1)
As if the epic UFC 243 card this weekend at Marvel Stadium wasn’t enough, Melbourne will also serve as the host for a strong effort from Eternal MMA. The Aussie organization’s 48th show, which will air live on UFC Fight Pass, features a number of title bouts. While they don’t exactly rival the UFC 243 middleweight championship headliner between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya, these contests are a chance to scout some up-and-coming local talent, including undefeated Eternal MMA bantamweight champion Mitch Martin and his challenger, Ben Watson.
Martin is an Eternal MMA mainstay who made his pro debut in 2014. After a split decision over Kaan Ofli, Martin went on a streak of finishes under the Eternal banner. His third pro fight was a title bout that netted him his current belt. He has gone on to make four successful defenses, including first-round submission finishes of veteran Chris Morris and, most recently, Kairin Moses. Martin has an even split of knockouts and submissions, with three apiece.
Watson, who debuted in 2016, has been much more of a journeyman than his counterpart. Watson, aptly named “The Wanderer,” has made stops in Brace, Superfight MMA and Legend MMA. He won his first two professional outings, including one via guillotine choke, before he was dropped with a head kick for a knockout loss courtesy of Richie Ivory. Watson responded with five straight wins, including four choke submissions and one knockout.
Watson’s numbers can be a bit misleading. He has won seven of his eight fights, but he only recently stepped up to face tougher competition in the form of Ryan Gillett (previously 3-0) and James Vandarakis (previously 3-1). Prior to these fights, his wins came against a set of opponents who held a combined 6-15-1 mark at the time they met Watson and now stand at a combined 9-25-1. Ivory, the one man to beat Watson, is now a mediocre 6-6.
Martin has seen a better succession of opponents, including the 11-7 Morris and 5-2 Moses. The MMA Clinic fighter can be relentless with takedown attempts, but he’ll have to be careful against Watson, who loves to attack with guillotines. If Martin gets careless, he could fall victim to the choke. However, if he can avoid this danger, Martin should be able to plant Watson on the mat and work from top position. After a flurry of ground-and-pound strikes, Martin should open up Watson for the rear-naked choke finish.
Other key bouts: Isi Fitikefu (5-0) vs. Kitt Campbell (10-3) for the middleweight title, Jack Della Maddalena (6-2) vs. Kevin Jousset (2-0) for the welterweight title, Abel Brites (12-6) vs. B.J. Bland (13-10), Chelsea Hackett (1-0-1) vs. Nicole Szepesvary (2-1), Casey O’Neill (2-0) vs. Miki Motono (2-0) for the women’s strawweight title, Rodolfo Marques (25-13-1) vs. Ben Royle (3-1), Steven Warby (10-3) vs. Duke Didier (7-1), Jacob Malkoun (3-0) vs. Sebastian Temesi (3-1)
Abdoul Abdouraguimov (10-0) vs. Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi (13-3)
The Brave Combat Federation has been carving out a nice little corner of the MMA market for itself lately, and the company is not taking its foot off the gas pedal. Instead, Brave CF heads back to Abu Dhabi for its 27th show, which features a welterweight title tilt between champion Abdoul Abdouraguimov and challenger Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi.
The 24-year-old Abdouraguimov became Brave CF’s youngest champion ever when he took the title from Al-Silawi in a very close fight in April. It was the culmination of a 10-fight run started with his 2016 pro debut. The Russian-born member of the Bulgarian Top Team has quite the resume, too. In his third fight, he submitted 26-fight veteran Gael Grimaud. In 2018, he added decision nods over UFC veteran Viscardi Andrade, who had only lost one of his four Octagon outings, and grizzled journeyman Rodrigo Cavalheiro. Next came his title-clinching split decision over Al-Silawi.
The former champ and current challenger hails from Jordan. Al-Silawi followed up a strong amateur run with Cage Warriors by turning pro in 2013 and scoring a 33-second finish of James Burrows at Cage Warriors 61. The Source MMA product couldn’t duplicate that success four months later when he locked horns with Carl Booth. After suffering a 31-second knockout loss to the rookie, the Jordanian rebounded with four straight stoppage victories across three different organizations. Al-Silawi’s second loss came via split decision to Mohammad Fakhreddine in a battle for the Desert Force interim welterweight title. Again, Al-Silawi bounced back for a winning streak. This run consisted of eight wins and included a decision nod to avenge his prior loss to Booth. He won the Brave CF crown with a first-round finish of Carlston Harris, but he fell short in his first defense against Abdouraguimov.
Abdouraguimov, an accomplished grappler, controlled the earlier rounds of the pair’s previous fight, but Al-Silawi surged later in the contest and almost secured a finish. This, of course, made the split verdict in Abdouraguimov’s favor a controversial one.
Al-Silawi has a kickboxing background, but he has developed his grappling game to the point where he actually has more submissions than knockouts. Still, his best path to victory likely involves his striking arsenal. He was able to batter Abdouraguimov with ground-and-pound strikes in their last affair and appeared confident that he had the win in the bag before the scores were read out.
We should expect another close fight between these two. It’ll be a back-and-forth battle, but Al-Silawi will be more aggressive this time and score a TKO finish.
Other key bouts: Anas Siraj Mounir (7-1) vs. Alex Martinez (5-0), Mzwandile Hlongwa (4-0) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (5-0), Mohammad Fakhreddine (11-3) vs. Christofer Silva (4-2), Dwight Brooks (1-0) vs. Alex Nacfur (6-3), Tariq Ismail (4-0) vs. Jalal Al Daaja (6-4)
Satomi Takano (13-11) vs. So Yul Kim (3-1)
ONE Championship’s odd weigh-in rules can wreak havoc on our ability to pin down what division a fighter actually belongs in. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is a flyweight by ONE’s definition, but he actually tips the scales as a bantamweight. At ONE’s eighth edition of the Warrior Series, natural atomweight Satomi Takano will actually fight at 115 pounds when she collides with upstart So Yul Kim.
Takano has a long history in the atomweight division, where she perennially sits at the edge of the top 15. The 29-year-old has had stints with the original Jewels organization and its repackaging as Deep Jewels, but she’s also made stops with Road Fighting Championship, Pacific X-treme Combat and Deep. Takano, who holds victories over Tomo Maesawa (three times) and Jung Eun Park, has only fought once before under the ONE banner, taking a submission win over Michele Ferreira in June. Takano has suffered losses to a long list of notable fighters, including Naho Sugiyama, Saori Ishioka, Mina Kurobe (twice), Mei Yamaguchi, Tessa Simpson and Alyssa Garcia.
South Korea’s Kim lacks the depth of experience that Takano enjoys. She debuted in late 2017 with a 52-second submission finish of Maria Anne Javilagon. Kim then joined the ONE Warrior Series, where she stumbled in her first outing. The MOB Training Center export was decisioned by fellow prospect Nyrene Crowley. She responded with a win over a sub-.500 opponent. Most recently, she added a decision victory over Yuko Suzuki.
Nothing on Kim’s record suggests that she’s a major threat to Takano. The veteran fighter may not be able to get over the hump, but at least almost all of her victories have come against solid competition. Unless Takano makes a huge mistake, she should cruise to the decision victory here.
Other key bouts: Ryoji Kudo (5-1-1) vs. Jerry Olsim (6-0), Ayaka Miyauchi vs. Sandra Godvik in a Muay Thai bout, Kodai Murata (10-5-1) vs. Min Jong Song (10-7), Hikaru Yoshino (7-1) vs. Chan Samart (2-5), Takuya Nagata (8-2-1) vs. Otgonbaatar Nergui (4-1-1), Long La (1-0) vs. Asuka Tsubaki (1-1), Ryuichi Yamashita (2-0) vs. Ahmed Faez Anuar (2-0), Koki Shimokawa vs. Sean Rush in a kickboxing bout, Jace Law (1-0) vs. Hiroyasu Sakurai (2-1), Shoa Arii vs. Mohamad Ilham Fahmi in a kickboxing bout, Kanta Motoyama vs. Cep Holik in a kickboxing bout
The Best of the Rest
Xtreme Knockout 47: Friday Night Fight Night: Deborah Kouzmin (2-0) vs. Rainn Guerrero (0-0)
Double G FC 3: Mika Arai (4-1) vs. Ji Yeon Seo (7-4)
Strength & Honour Championship 15: Gerardo Fanny (5-0) vs. Khamid Sultanbiev (6-6) for the bantamweight title
Colosseum MMA: Battle of Champions 9: Saidshokh Ruzimatov (4-0) vs. Samat Fayzuldaev (3-0)
Last Week’s Scorecard
Vladimir Mineev vs. Diego Dias at United Donbass 2
Mineev by knockout
Mineev by decision
Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Denis Araujo at GFC 17
Araujo by decision
Ulanbekov by submission
Daniel James vs. Brett Martin at LFA 77
James by knockout
Martin by disqualification
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