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…
Elias Theodorou (16-3) vs. Hernani Perpétuo (20-8)
It came as a surprise to many when middleweight Elias Theodorou was released by the UFC. The Canadian fighter was 8-3 overall, but a decision loss to Derek Brunson was all it took to earn him the boot. Now, Theodorou is set to make his first appearance since that release. He’ll do so at Prospect Fighting Championships 12, where he’ll co-headline opposite fellow UFC castoff Hernani Perpétuo.
Theodorou, who also serves as the “ring boy” for Invicta Fighting Championships when he’s not competing, suffered the loss to Brunson on the heels of a three-fight winning streak. His only other losses inside the Octagon came to eventual light-heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos and current No. 12-ranked middleweight Brad Tavares. “The Spartan” holds UFC victories over such notables as Sam Alvey, Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, Daniel Kelly and Eryk Anders. The 31-year-old had been a member of the UFC roster since 2014 and has been fighting professionally since 2011. While he does have five knockouts and two submissions, the majority of his wins have come on the scorecards. His losses have all been decisions as well.
Perpétuo found far less success in his own venture into the Octagon. He, too, joined the UFC in 2014. The Brazilian had compiled a 17-3 record on the regional circuit, but he was humbled in his Octagon debut and sophomore appearance with losses to Jordan Mein and Tim Means. After two years on the sidelines, the 34-year-old Nova União fighter returned to the regional scene with a first-round knockout of Cleber Souza. He’s been on a rocky road ever since, alternating between wins and losses to the tune of a 2-3 run. His most recent defeat came under the ONE Championship banner in October, when he was decisioned by Hiroyuki Tetsuka.
While he isn’t always the most entertaining fighter, Theodorou tends to be effective against all but the very best he meets. He has never been stopped, and all of his losses came against opponents who resided in the top 15 of the UFC rankings or would go on to be ranked long after fighting the Canadian. Theodorou has suggested that his release from the company had a lot to do with his increasing salary. In terms of performance, he hardly deserved to be let go.
Perpétuo is a different story. The Brazilian’s ceiling became apparent when he dropped consecutive fights to Mein and Means and was ushered out the door by the UFC. He’s gone on to post even more troubling results with losses to Tetsuka, Vitaly Slipenko and Aigun Akhmedov. He has been submitted once and knocked out once, but the finish isn’t likely to be in the cards against a grinder like Theodorou.
The inconsistency shown by Perpétuo since his UFC release further bolsters Theodorou as the favorite in this affair. There’s nothing to suggest that Theodorou is in a significant decline — a loss to Brunson is hardly an embarrassment — and he should be able to outpoint his counterpart en route to yet another decision nod.
Other key bouts: T.J. Laramie (10-3) vs. Andrew Cruz (7-3) for the featherweight title, Claudio Ledesma (16-8) vs. Tony Laramie (4-2) for the flyweight title, Randi Field (1-0) vs. Melissa Karagianis (3-5), Justin Condie (1-0) vs. Jo Petahtegoose (4-4), Zach Junkin (1-0) vs. Kris Allard (1-2), Jamie Flick (1-0) vs. Justin Taveirne (1-1)
Scott Askham (18-4) vs. Mamed Khalidov (34-6-2)
Poland’s Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki consistently puts together some of the best MMA offerings in all of Europe, and its 52nd event continues this trend. There’s a featherweight title clash between the undefeated Salahdine Parnasse and grizzled veteran Ivan Buchinger. The lineup also features undefeateds Karolina Owczarz, Aleksandra Rola and Shamil Musaev. However, it’s the headliner that really draws our attention. In a 187-pound catchweight affair, Scott Askham meets Mamed Khalidov, who returns following a brief retirement.
Askham is another UFC veteran in this week’s stacked set of regional shows. The Brit, who made his pro debut in 2010, landed inside the Octagon four years later after enjoying a run as BAMMA’s middleweight champion. Unfortunately, his UFC campaign wasn’t as successful. Askham went just 2-4 with the promotion, though he did pick up two first-round finishes along the way. After a win over Luke Barnatt, the 31-year-old signed with KSW and reeled off victories over Michał Materla (twice) and Marcin Wójcik. The second win over Materla came in a fight for the vacant KSW middleweight championship. Askham has 12 knockouts on his resume.
Khalidov, a former KSW middleweight champ, had relinquished the belt in 2018 while chasing a rematch with the company’s light-heavyweight titleholder Tomasz Narkun. He retired following his loss to Narkun, but his time away from the sport only lasted a year. The very accomplished taekwondo and Kyokushin practitioner has an MMA record dating back to 2004. He actually lost his first two pro outings and was 3-3 after six fights, but he’s had a ridiculous amount of success since then. His only subsequent setbacks came against Jorge Santiago and the aforementioned Narkun (twice). Meanwhile, Khalidov has reigned supreme over the competition in Sengoku and KSW, with a resume that includes wins over Santiago, James Irvin, Matt Lindland, Jesse Taylor, Kendall Grove, Melvin Manhoef and Brett Cooper. The 39-year-old has tallied 17 submission finishes and 13 knockouts in his 15-year career.
KSW and Khalidov have taken advantage of the former champ’s recent legal troubles — he was arrested for altering the origins of luxury cars stolen in the Czech Republic — to promote this fight. The event’s theme is “The Race,” and the show’s promotional materials include some humorous references to Khalidov’s situation. It’s yet to be seen if this serves as a distraction to Khalidov once he steps into the cage.
Askham may have failed in his UFC tenure, but he’s found his groove with KSW. The Brit has not needed more than two minutes in any of his three appearances with the organization. Askham has been a very proficient finisher throughout his career, but he can be neutralized and defeated on the scorecards, as has been demonstrated by Magnus Cedenblad, Krzysztof Jotko, Jack Hermansson and Brad Scott. Notably, though, Askham has never lost outside of the UFC.
Khalidov’s legal troubles, his retirement, and his age are all potential factors here. The Russian-born veteran lost his last two fights before hanging up the gloves, too. Yet, it’s tough to pick against someone with such a long list of victories. Khalidov might be getting up there in years, but he’s still a very skilled fighter who doesn’t lose very often.
Khalidov’s pursuit of Narkun was a bad move for the top middleweight. He was simply too small to compete at light heavyweight. Middleweight is Khalidov’s proper home. This contest with Askham might be a catchweight affair, but it’s much closer to Khalidov’s typical fighting weight. He should be very competitive and has a solid chance of finding the victory. However, Askham has become quite the force. The Brit might just be able to stun the Polish crowd with another big knockout to put Khalidov on a three-fight skid.
Other key bouts: Szymon Kołecki (7-1) vs. Damian Janikowski (4-2), Karolina Owczarz (2-0) vs. Aleksandra Rola (3-0), Albert Odzimkowski (11-3) vs. Michał Michalski (7-4), Salahdine Parnasse (13-0-1) vs. Ivan Buchinger (37-6) for the featherweight title, Shamil Musaev (13-0) vs. Grzegorz Szulakowski (9-3), Vinicius Bohrer (16-7) vs. Artur Sowiński (19-11), Srđan Marović (4-0) vs. Michał Włodarek (7-2), Maciej Kazieczko (5-1) vs. Michael Dubois (11-6)
Tito Ortiz (20-12-1) vs. Alberto “Del Rio” Rodriguez (9-5)
Combate Americas isn’t the first promotion to use Tito Ortiz to help draw eyes to its product, but it is the latest. Ortiz will share headlining duties with Alberto Rodriguez, who is better known by his pro-wrestling moniker of Alberto Del Rio, at the promotion’s 51st event. The two men will compete in a 210-pound catchweight contest while putting up their respective title belts — Ortiz’s UFC strap and Del Rio’s WWE championship — as a reward to the victor. Fans seeking an outlet where they can watch the fight will be pleased to know that Combat Press will have FITE TV’s stream available here.
Ortiz needs little introduction. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has been a star in the MMA world since UFC 13 in 1997. He’s engaged in feuds with Ken Shamrock, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell. The 44-year-old has become a sought-after commodity for his ability to spark interest in legends fights. He helped elevate Bellator’s ratings, and now Combate Americas is hoping for the same. After a 1-7-1 stretch to close out his UFC career, Ortiz is now 4-1 over his last five fights. All of his recent wins have come in so-called legends bouts against the likes of Alexander Shlemenko, Stephan Bonnar, Chael Sonnen and the aforementioned Liddell. His one loss came against Liam McGeary, an established contender in Bellator’s light-heavyweight division. Ortiz utilizes a grinding wrestling style and punishes opponents with ground-and-pound strikes.
Rodriguez falls somewhere in the middle of the pro-wrestler-turned-mixed-martial-artist spectrum. He’s no Brock Lesnar, but he’s also probably not quite as awful as CM Punk. However, he’s also nearly a decade removed from his last pro outing. The 42-year-old debuted in 2001 with Japan’s Deep organization and also appeared in two fights with Pride. He’s even shared the ring with Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, who destroyed the pro wrestler in just 46 seconds with his patented head kick. Following a loss to Kazuhiro Nakamura, Rodriguez left the Japanese circuit and bounced around the Central American regional scene. He won six fights in a row before traveling to Spain, where he lost to sub-.500 fighter Mamoru Yamamoto. That fight took place in early 2010.
Combate would be smart to emphasize its best homegrown talent on this card while letting Ortiz bring eyeballs to its product. The women’s strawweight title bout between Melissa Martinez and Desiree Yanez might get more attention thanks to the UFC legend’s presence. The same goes for fights involving Levy Saúl Marroquin, Ismael Bonfim and Ricky Palacios. Meanwhile, Ortiz should be able to cruise once he actually locks horns with Rodriguez.
Ortiz might be getting up there in years, but he’s actually played it very smart with his match-ups lately. His size was too much for Shlemenko. Bonnar and Sonnen were far past their prime. McGeary was too much, but Ortiz could still boast that he’d fought for the Bellator light-heavyweight title. Liddell’s chin has deteriorated to where a light breeze could knock him out. Now, Ortiz draws an opponent whose biggest star turn came in a fake sport and who has not engaged in an official MMA bout since 2010. This is the perfect fight for a 44-year-old. Ortiz should easily dominate Rodriguez, even on the feet, and score a first-round finish via his ground-and-pound attack. The bigger win goes to the fans who tuned in early and managed to catch the up-and-comers that Ortiz is helping to showcase.
Other key bouts: Melissa Martinez (6-0) vs. Desiree Yanez (5-1) for the women’s strawweight title, Joby Sanchez (13-5) vs. Daniel Barez (11-4), Gaston Reyno (8-2) vs. Angel Luis Cruz (6-4), Dulce Garcia (1-0) vs. Marisol Ruelas (1-2), Levy Saúl Marroquin (12-3) vs. Enrique Gonzalez (8-3), Ismael Bonfim (13-3) vs. Jose Flores (8-1), Ricky Palacios (11-2) vs. Jose Ceja (4-5)
The Best of the Rest
Gorilla Fighting Championship 21: Vladimir Seliverstov (10-0) vs. Oleg Olenichev (13-6)
Thunder Fight 21: Edvaldo de Oliveira (36-29) vs. Victor de Paula (4-0) for the light heavyweight title
Unified MMA 39: Shane Campbell (16-8) vs. Dawond Pickney (16-14) Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press
Brave Combat Federation 31: Chad Hanekom (6-1) vs. Daniel Pereira (8-2) for the middleweight title
Last Week’s Scorecard
Marif Piraev vs. Rodrigo Caporal at MFP 231
Piraev by decision
Caporal by split decision
Priscus Fogagnolo vs. Joseph Henle at Australian FC 23
Fogagnolo by knockout
Maksim Davydov vs. Rubenilton Pereira at Strike FC 4
Pereira by knockout
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