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…
Azamat Murzakanov (7-0) vs. Guto Inocente (7-4)
The 29th edition of Brave Combat Federation was set to feature a flyweight title showdown between Jose “Shorty” Torres and Marcel Adur, but the unfortunate passing of Torres’ father just a month before the fight understandably left the UFC veteran shaken. With less than a week before the event, Torres withdrew. Our condolences go out to the fighter and his family.
While the championship bout has been scrapped, the event still features several interesting fights. The show will feature a one-night, four-man, openweight tournament. Dubbed as a grand prix to decide the “KHK World Champion,” the competition features Moise Rimbon, Mohammad Fakhreddine, Guto Inocente and Azamat Murzakanov. Rimbon typically bounces between middleweight and light heavyweight, Fakhreddine resides in the middleweight and welterweight divisions, Inocente has competed in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, and Murzakanov has consistently fought at light heavyweight. The semifinal between Murzakanov and Inocente is the more compelling of the initial bouts.
The Russian-born, New Jersey-based Murzakanov is perfect through seven fights. “The Professional” technically debuted in 2010, but his sophomore appearance didn’t come until 2015. He went inactive again in 2017 and will now make his first appearance in two and a half years. The K-Dojo Warrior Tribe product has finished all but one of his fights in the first frame. This includes five knockouts and one submission. His first two fights lasted a combined 30 seconds. Murzakanov was set to make his UFC debut in 2017 at UFC Fight Night 112 before an injury took him out of action.
Inocente is better known in the kickboxing world, where he has 45 fights and 36 wins to his name. The GLORY veteran isn’t a one-dimensional striker though. He has trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since his childhood before moving on to kickboxing and boxing, where he is far more accomplished. In MMA action, he has tallied three knockouts and three submissions. Inocente signed with Strikeforce and picked up a win over Virgil Zwicker in 2012. Once Strikeforce was bought by Zuffa, the kickboxer made his way to the Octagon, where he was knocked out by Derrick Lewis and submitted by Anthony Perosh. He was dismissed by the organization and appeared in one additional MMA contest before turning his focus back to kickboxing. He challenged Rico Verhoeven for the GLORY heavyweight strap in 2018, but came up short.
Inocente, whose pro MMA debut took place in 2005, hasn’t looked all that sharp at the highest levels of this sport. He’s a strong kickboxer, but he hasn’t been able to find the same success when competing under MMA rules. The 33-year-old is still a stiff test for Murzakanov, who has mostly cruised by on victories over inexperienced opponents and sub-.500 fighters. Murzakanov’s 50-second starching of André Muniz, who held a 14-3 record at the time, suggests he could be capable of far more.
The UFC had its eyes on Murzakanov a couple of years ago, which is quite a compliment for any up-and-comer. The undefeated prospect’s tendency to score quick finishes could come in handy against Inocente, but the kickboxer could also be better equipped to handle Murzakanov’s heavy fists. Still, the southpaw’s aggressive style could overwhelm the Brazilian. Murzakanov throws a huge overhand left, and he loves to pounce on downed opponents and rain down a steady stream of ground-and-pound. He also has strong takedowns in his toolbox.
Inocente is a far more disciplined and technical striker. His leg kicks could serve to slow down an advancing Murzakanov, but they could also be the very thing that lands Inocente on his back. Murzakanov might have power, but he’s going to want to neutralize his opponent’s best weapons. If the Russian can get this fight to the ground, his barrage of fists from the top should bring a quick end to the night. Regardless of who wins this bout, they should be considered the favorite to go on to capture the KHK crown.
Other key bouts: Nahuel Gandolfi (13-3) vs. Hamza Kooheji (8-2), Felipe Silva (9-2) vs. Guram Kutateladze (10-2), Luan Santiago (14-4) vs. Gadzhimusa Gadzhiev (9-5), Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady (10-2) vs. Dumar Roa (12-7), Luana Pinheiro (6-1) vs. Helen Harper (4-2), Moise Rimbon (25-13-3) vs. Mohammad Fakhreddine (12-3) in openweight tournament semifinal, Amir Albazi (11-1) vs. Ryan Curtis (5-1), Matiss Zaharovs (2-0) vs. Hussain Maki (4-2), Ilia Topuria (7-0) vs. Steven Goncalves (6-2), Jeremy Pacatiw (9-3) vs. Ali Al Qaisi (7-3), Dean Garnett (9-2-1) vs. Rany Saadeh (11-2), Tae Kyun Kim (5-0) vs. Erick da Silva (22-6)
Pavel Gordeev (14-1) vs. Milson Castro (11-3)
The Russian Cagefighting Championship organization is back with the sixth entry in its “Intro” series of MMA events. Fans will have to wait until December for another glimpse at RCC stud Ivan Shtyrkov, but in the meantime, they get an opportunity to see the other featured fighter on the league’s roster. Lightweight up-and-comer Pavel Gordeev seeks his 15th career win when he battles Milson Castro.
Gordeev made his debut in 2013 and won his first seven fights. His level of competition gradually increased until he met 18-fight veteran Elnur Agaev, who handed Gordeev his lone professional loss via a unanimous decision. Gordeev answered the setback by reeling off another six wins. Again, his level of competition increased, with fights against the likes of Michel Silva and UFC veteran Mickael Lebout. He passed these tests and also served up the first career losses to formerly undefeated Alik Albogachiev and Arthur Lima. He kicked off 2019 with a no-contest against UFC vet Godofredo Pepey, but then notched another win when he clashed with Shane Campbell, another UFC castoff, in May. He was set to meet Luiz “Buscape” Firmino on Saturday, but Firmino has since been replaced by Castro.
The 29-year-old Castro debuted with a victory in 2012, but he followed it with a disastrous three-fight stretch that included a loss to future UFC and Bellator fighter John “Macapá” Teixeira. He righted the ship in 2017 and has now won 10 straight fights. “Barão” has not seen anywhere near the level of competition as his counterpart has experienced. The Brazilian’s loss to Macapá came before that fighter’s brief stop in the UFC and lengthy tenure with Bellator, but Teixeira was still more than 20 fights into his career by then. Castro’s next most notable foe has been Junior Monteiro, a 10-3-1 fighter that Barão met under the Shooto Brazil banner. Castro did claim a decision in that contest.
Gordeev is a solid ground fighter, but he has been a decision machine ever since his one defeat. His fights against Lebout and Albogachiev ended in split verdicts. He tends to take an aggressive approach, though. The Russian will use kicks or wild, looping punches as a means to close distance and tie up his opponent. His punches pack plenty of power, and he can be strong in his takedown attempts. However, his wild nature also leaves him open to level changes and takedowns from his opponents. He can also empty his gas tank in fights where he gets an early knockdown. His fight with the aforementioned Silva is a prime example. Gordeev rocked Silva early and put everything he had into an attempted finish, but Silva survived. Gordeev slowed in the subsequent rounds en route to the decision win.
Barão looks unpolished. He reaches to try to land his punches, which could leave him exposed to huge counters, especially from someone of Gordeev’s caliber. Castro also lacks the takedown defense to stuff Gordeev’s shots. The Brazilian is going to be on the defensive throughout this fight, and it won’t be pretty. Gordeev, who’s accustomed to high-level competition, should feast on Castro’s weaknesses. The Russian’s trend toward decisions is disappointing, but he’s finding wins this way. There’s a better chance that he finishes Castro, but don’t be surprised if this fight goes the distance.
Other key bouts: Timur Nagibin (14-4) vs. Mike Santiago (22-12), Aleksandr Grozin (12-2-1) vs. Rony Jason (15-8), Pavel Vitruk (12-3) vs. Gustavo Erak (22-4-1), Artur Karavaev (11-6) vs. Arber Murati (10-8-1), Kuanysh Aleksandrov (9-2) vs. Nikolay Prismakov (6-1), Andrey Plotnikov (3-0) vs. Ruslan Yamanbaev (7-8-1), Vadim Koynov (2-0) vs. Maxim Viktorov (3-0)
Alexander Keshtov (9-0) vs. Raufeon Stots (12-1)
Cage Fury Fighting Championships has a docket full of title affairs for its 79th effort. Pat Sabatini is set to defend his featherweight crown in the evening’s headliner, Juan Gonzalez and Nikolas Motta clash for the vacant lightweight strap, and upstart Shawn Teed hunts for gold against Ben Reiter in the heavyweight division. The best title contest, however, is the bantamweight championship bout featuring Alexander Keshtov and Raufeon Stots.
Nine fights, nine wins, and 10 years as an MMA fighter. Keshtov’s biggest issue is obviously his lack of activity since debuting in 2009. However, the Russian fighter is still perfect, and he hasn’t exactly been fighting tomato cans when he does compete. “AK-47” has an odd career for a Russian fighter. He won his first two pro bouts on the Russian regional circuit, but then hopped to Arkansas for his next victory. After two more wins in his homeland, he traveled to China and then the United States to accumulate his four most recent victories. While he only averages one fight per year, this has more to do with a lengthy hiatus between his two 2009 bouts and his return to the sport in 2014. The K-Dojo Warrior Tribe fighter has made an appearance in Kunlun Fight, World Series of Fighting Global, Global Proving Ground and Ring of Combat. He has won bantamweight titles under the GPG and ROC banners. The 32-year-old is making his Cage Fury debut. He has four knockouts and one submission victory. He’s scored wins over Caleb Lally, Billy Giovanella, James Quigg and Andre Bernardo.
The 30-year-old Stots posted a 6-1 mark as an amateur before turning pro in 2015 and reeling off eight more victories, including decisions over UFC veterans Jeff Curran and Rob Emerson. The Roufusport fighter even avenged his lone amateur defeat against Demetrius Wilson when he stopped Wilson via rear-naked choke in a Victory FC 47 fight. He faced his lone pro setback when he was dropped in just 15 seconds by a spinning back fist from Merab Dvalishvili, who went on to compete in the UFC in his very next fight. Stots has since rebounded with four additional victories, including three wins under the Legacy Fighting Alliance banner. In addition to Roufusport, Stots has spent time at Miletich Fighting Systems and Premier Combat. He’s a two-time NCAA national wrestling champion who has finished three opponents with strikes and submitted an additional three foes.
Keshtov has shown promise, but he hasn’t quite taken the next step up in competition until now. Lally and Giovanella are a far cry from even the likes of Curran, Emerson and Levi Mowles, all of whom have taken losses from Stots. The Roufusport fighter has the wrestling chops to get fights to the ground, but he’s not out of his element in a striking exchange.
Keshtov is going to struggle here. He’s capable of feeding on low-level opponents, but Stots is a fighter primed for a move to the UFC or Bellator. Barring another stunner like the Dvalishvili back fist, Stots should be able to control where this fight takes place and outwork his opponent en route to a decision nod.
Other key bouts: Pat Sabatini (11-2) vs. Mauro Chaulet (14-6) for the featherweight title, Juan Gonzalez (7-1) vs. Nikolas Motta (10-3) for the lightweight title, Shawn Teed (5-2-1) vs. Ben Reiter (17-2-1) for the heavyweight title, Phil Caracappa (8-1) vs. Jordan Morales (7-4), Paul Capaldo (3-0) vs. Mark Trader (4-2), Santos Curatolo (3-0) vs. Aleczander Castilhos (3-1)
The Best of the Rest
Legend Fighting League: Timur Khizriev (8-0) vs. Matsubek Baltabaev (4-2) Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Legacy Fighting Alliance 78: Adrian Yanez (9-3) vs. Kyle Estrada (10-4) Watch Event:UFC Fight Pass
247 Fighting Championships: Brawl in the Burgh 2: Mark Cherico (11-2) vs. Joey Munoz (7-5) Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
La Batalla del Puente 6: Mauro Mastromarini (9-0) vs. Ariel Ibarra (8-2-1)
Last Week’s Scorecard
Shamil Zavurov vs. A Sol Kwon at Road FC 56
Zavurov by decision
Zavurov by decision
Attila Vegh vs. Karlos Vemola at Oktagon 15
Vemola by knockout
Vegh by knockout
Cezary Kęsik vs. Aleksandar Ilić at KSW 51
Kęsik by knockout
Kęsik by submission
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