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: Nov. 22
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Josh Huber (24-10) vs. Zviad Lazishvili (11-0)
The Legacy Fighting Alliance appears to have regained its footing. After shockingly losing its spot on AXS TV, the company was forced to postpone its events. Now partnered with UFC Fight Pass, the LFA is back for its 79th show. Of course, things couldn’t go smoothly even then — headliner Brandon Royval is on his fourth different scheduled opponent in a scrap for the flyweight title. Meanwhile, the fighter on the card with the most eye-catching record is Zviad Lazishvili, who is perfect through 11 pro outings. The bantamweight returns to action against Josh Huber in the evening’s co-headliner.
As strong as Lazishvili’s record is, there’s just one problem: he’s been inactive in the sport for more than five years. The 28-year-old entered the sport in 2011 and tore his way through the competition until June 2015, when he picked up his most recent win with a leg-lock submission of rookie competitor Ahmed Huseynov. Overall, Lazishvili registered eight submission finishes and three decisions during this stretch. Beginning in 2015, he saw several fights fall through and then had to undergo surgery. Lazishvili, a native of the Republic of Georgia, also moved to the United States during this time. He started training at Kaizen MMA, but worked with the Elevation Fight Team in Colorado in preparation for this contest, which will take place in the high altitude of the Denver area.
Huber happens to be a resident of the Denver area. The 34-fight veteran trains out of Factory X Muay Thai, the region’s other big camp. “Hellboy” has been bouncing from promotion to promotion since his 2006 debut. He’s made stops with Shark Fights, Titan Fighting Championship, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance, and the World Series of Fighting. He’s also dipped his toes into the kickboxing and boxing realms. The 34-year-old has had his ups and downs, but he has shared the cage with the likes of Joe Wilk, Jarred Mercado, Alvin Robinson and UFC standout Cory Sandhagen. Unfortunately, he lost all of these outings. Huber has 12 submission wins, but he’s also tallied five knockouts in his lengthy career.
Lazishvili’s resume might look nice and shiny, but that’s just scratching the surface. A closer look reveals a list of opponents who were all debuting pros upon their clashes with the Georgian fighter. How have those fighters fared since they were handed a loss by Lazishvili? They have just a 4-18 mark. Only three of these fighters competed after losing to him, and only one of those men ever picked up a pro victory. That’s hardly impressive.
Huber’s long past any potential prospect phase of his career, but he is on a six-fight roll in MMA competition. He’s also no pushover, as demonstrated by his 24 wins. He doesn’t have a truly recognizable name in his list of victims, but he definitely has not opted to only take on rookies. His grappling is solid, and he packs some power, too.
Sure, Lazishvili could prove to be deceptively good. Right now, we have little to go on besides a trail of victories against clearly overmatched competition. Lazishvili could be a threat to Huber on the ground, but Huber’s no joke on the mat either. Huber also appears to be the more well-rounded competitor. Furthermore, experience is on his side. Lazishvili also has the tough task of competing in the thinner air of Denver. This all spells bad news — and a first career loss — for the Georgian fighter. Huber’s had a tough time finding the finish lately, so he might just have to settle for outworking his opponent for the decision in this affair.
Other key bouts: Brandon Royval (9-4) vs. Nate Williams (29-18) for the flyweight title, Jonathan Wyderko (4-1) vs. Eric Grant (4-4), Justin Wetzell (4-1) vs. Michael Aquila (1-0), George Martinez (4-0) vs. Carlos Motta (4-0), Brian Mitchell (1-0) vs. Michael Stack (3-0), Edwin Chavez (1-0) vs. Michael Santos (2-2)
Event Date: Nov. 23
Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Stephen Loman (13-2) vs. Louie Sanoudakis (8-1)
The Brave Combat Federation has been experiencing a surge lately thanks to frequent cards, relentless promotion, and strong matchmaking. Better yet, they have a broadcast outlet for their fights that can be accessed right here on Combat Press (shameless plug, we know). The company’s 30th show puts the spotlight squarely on bantamweight champion Stephen Loman. The Team Lakay fighter puts the strap on the line this weekend against Louie Sanoudakis.
The 27-year-old titleholder has had perhaps the most successful Brave CF reign in the promotion’s history. He won the vacant championship at the company’s ninth event, where he beat Gurdarshan Mangat via TKO. “The Sniper” then defended the belt with decision nods over Frans Mlambo and Felipe Efrain. Most recently, the Filipino fighter added a knockout of challenger Elias Boudegzdame in March. Loman has also competed under the URCC and Pacific X-treme Combat banners since making his pro debut in 2012. Overall, he has five knockouts and two submission victories.
Sanoudakis is a member of the famed Tristar Gym, where he trains under the tutelage of Firas Zahabi. The 30-year-old Montreal native posted a perfect record through six amateur fights before turning pro in 2013. “Leonidas” reeled off five wins, including two submissions, before finally suffering a setback when he traveled to Japan and dropped a decision to Kenta Takizawa under the Pancrase banner. He resumed his winning ways with a decision nod over fellow upstart Terry Bartholomew at a Cage Fury Fighting Championships show in 2017 and then joined Brave CF, where he’s added two additional victories. Sanoudakis most recently decisioned veteran James Brum in late July.
For a Team Lakay fighter, Loman has an unusually large number of fights — six — that went the distance. The Filipino camp is known for a number of regional stars who’ve decimated their opponents with strikes, but Loman hasn’t shown the same overall finishing ability. Yet, he still can rock opponents and does have two rear-naked chokes to his credit. Loman is a wrestler, though, and he has proven that he can utilize his skill set to outpoint opponents. He’s tenacious with his takedowns and works well in the clinch. He can change levels, but he also possesses enough strength to just pick them up and put them on the canvas. He’ll use trips when needed as well.
As a member of the Tristar camp, Sanoudakis is another formidable opponent for Loman, who has already turned back tough challenges from the aforementioned Efrain and Boudegzdame. Sanoudakis fights much longer than Loman and could easily run away with a stand-up battle, but Loman can neutralize a large part of the Canadian’s game if he can score takedowns. Sanoudakis will look to connect with his strikes and expose Loman’s chin, which has failed him on two occasions in the past.
The key here will be how effective Loman is in getting takedowns and keeping Sanoudakis on the mat. If this fight takes place at range on the feet, Sanoudakis could find the knockout. If Loman can close the distance and keep the Tristar fighter in the clinch or on the mat, then he could add another success defense of his title. Given Loman’s relentlessness once he shoots for the takedown, it’s likely that he succeeds in this fight.
Other key bouts: Phil Hawes (5-2) vs. Dominik Schober (9-7), Kantharaj Agasa (10-2) vs. Nawras Abzakh (7-2), Manjit Kolekar (11-3) vs. Samin Kamal Beik (3-3), Jorick Montagnac (1-0) vs. Enrico Cortese (4-2), Mohammad Farhad (10-3) vs. Kushal Vyas (10-4)
Event Date: Nov. 23
Shamil Zavurov (36-6-1) vs. Ivica Trušček (38-33)
It hasn’t been long since we last checked in on Shamil Zavurov. He’s had a tough road since he came up short in the Road Fighting Championship $1 million lightweight tournament. The Russian veteran has had several opponents fall through and just two bouts since the February loss to Mansour Barnaoui. However, he’s made the most of those fights. Less than two weeks ago, he returned to Road FC and took a decision nod over Sengoku veteran and Road FC staple A Sol Kwon. Now, the welterweight heads back to Gorilla Fighting Championship, where he picked up his other recent win. Zavurov is set for a showdown with Russian circuit staple Ivica Trušček.
The 35-year-old Zavurov, the cousin and training partner of current UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, is an International Master of Sports in sambo and a Master of Sports in freestyle wrestling. He’s a three-time world champion in combat sambo, too. He holds five wins by submission and 11 via knockout, but Zavurov’s resume shows a move away from grappling and toward the striking aspect of his game. However, his last 10 victories have come on the scorecards. After blazing a path to the finals of Road FC’s tournament with wins over Won Gi Kim (in the international trials to qualify for the bracket), Leo Kuntz, Khuukhenkhuu Amartuvshin and Ronys Torres, Zavurov was dropped in the third round by a Barnaoui knee. The Russian then joined GFC, where he had a number of fights that fizzled, including a booking against UFC veteran Phil Baroni. Ultimately, Zavurov only saw action on one occasion, when he decisioned Matias Juarez in July. He then returned to Road FC for his victory over Kwon.
Trušček has more than 70 fights under his belt, but he’s still hovering just five wins over the .500 mark. He has a habit of going on severe skids, a pattern that emerged not long after his 2007 pro debut. He’s had losing streaks of two, three, four and six fights throughout his career, and sometimes more than once. He’s also never won more than six contests in a row. The “Terror” has clashed with such notables as Mairbek Taisumov, Igor Araújo, Nicolas Dalby (twice), Artiom Damkovsky, Islam Makhachev, Roberto Soldić, Zhang Lipeng and Colin Fletcher, but he only managed a win against Fletcher. Trušček has 22 knockouts and 13 submission finishes, but he’s also been knocked out four times and tapped 15 times.
Zavurov has a base of sambo and wrestling, but the Russian has also worked to improve his striking and become a more well-rounded fighter over the years. In the skills department alone, there should be no question that he is the superior fighter. As is his usual M.O., Zavurov is likely to use takedowns and top control to try to control this fight and work toward the decision.
Trušček is a real wild card, though. He can go on disastrous skids, but he’s a finisher on the feet and when the fight hits the mat. With his experience, Zavurov only needs to commit one error to lose this fight. Trušček prefers to go for the double-leg takedown and set up for a ground-and-pound barrage from top position, but Zavurov’s own skill set should allow him to fend off Trušček primary offense. Meanwhile, the veteran of more than 70 fights has proven to be an easy out no matter where the contest plays out. Zavurov hasn’t stopped many opponents lately, but this could be the opportunity where he gets the job done.
Trušček is a fixture in the MMA world, and especially in the Russian regional scene, but he’s not on the same level as Zavurov. Everything points to another decision win for Zavurov, whose sambo and wrestling abilities will be the difference in this fight.
Other key bouts: Nursultan Ruziboev (21-8-1) vs. Artem Shokalo (24-24), Dzhafar Ismiev (12-5) vs. Ahliddin Mirzodavlatov (6-1), Jakhongir Jumaev (2-0) vs. Dawoud Som (4-1), Saygid Izagakhmaev (15-1) vs. Cristian Brinzan (9-3), Marat Magomedov (11-2-1) vs. Italo Gomes (8-1), Amin Ergashev (9-3) vs. Sergey Alekseevich (4-2), Muzaffar Radzhabov (14-3) vs. Alaaddin Ben Khalima (0-0), Makkasharip Zaynukov (9-3) vs. Clodoaldo Lima (5-2)
Cage Warriors 111: Mads Burnell (12-3) vs. Steve Aimable (14-5) for the featherweight title Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Cage Fury Fighting Championships 80: Jillian DeCoursey (2-2) vs. Katie Perez (0-0) Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
C3 Fights 48: Gerald Harris (25-8-1) vs. Seth Baczynski (22-16)
Taura MMA 8: Juan Gonzalez (8-1) vs. Douglas Felipe (11-1-1) for the bantamweight title
|Azamat Murzakanov vs. Guto Inocente at Brave CF 29||Murzakanov by knockout||Murzakanov by decision|
|Pavel Gordeev vs. Milson Castro at RCC Intro 6||Gordeev by decision||Castro by decision|
|Alexander Keshtov vs. Raufeon Stots at CFFC 79||Stots by decision||Fight canceled|