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…
Extreme Fighting Championship Worldwide 84
Sun Times Square in Pretoria, South Africa Event Date: March 14 Website:efcworldwide.com Watch Event: DAZN (United States), Fight Sports (Europe and Asia), SuperSport (Africa), SABC Sport (South Africa), 2 (Norway), vip (Croatia and Slovenia), Huawei (Myanmar), Stv (Cameroon), efcworldwide.tv (worldwide). Prelims on Facebook. Twitter:@EFCworldwide
Themba Gorimbo (8-2) vs. Lyle Karam (6-0)
South Africa’s leading promotion is back with its 84th edition this weekend. The lineup isn’t particularly strong this time around, but fans will be treated to a welterweight title tilt in the evening’s headliner. Champion Themba Gorimbo puts his belt on the line against undefeated challenger Lyle Karam.
Gorimbo only recently became the titleholder. He finished Luke Michael with elbows in the first round of their September encounter to claim the strap. Michael, however, was just 4-3 entering the bout. “The Answer” has actually had a couple of setbacks since his 2013 pro debut. After submitting his first four opponents, he came up short in an EFC Worldwide lightweight title bid against Leon Mynhardt, who cinched up a guillotine choke to tap Gorimbo. He returned to the welterweight division the following year and notched a decision victory over Joe Cummins, but then stumbled against veteran Dave Mazany. Gorimbo sat on the sidelines for more than a year and a half after the defeat, but he returned in 2019 with wins over Mauricio de Rocha Jr. and the aforementioned Michael on his way to a title reign.
Absolute MMA’s Karam has been stellar through six fights, but he’s also been at the pro level since 2014. He debuted with EFC Worldwide’s former incarnation as EFC Africa and won two fights before the promotion changed to its current name. He added another two victories by mid-2016, but his next four bookings, including a scheduled fight with Gorimbo, fell through. After more than three years of inactivity, the “Krusher” returned in 2019 and added a split nod over sub-.500 fighter Stefan Pretorius under the EFC banner. He then appeared with Australian Fighting Championship in December and stopped Luke Howard via ground-and-pound TKO.
Karam’s spotless record will be put to the test against Gorimbo. The “Krusher” barely emerged unscathed when he met Pretorius, and his overall strength of schedule is rather weak. His best opponents held 4-1 and 5-3 marks when they clashed with Karam, and the former of those two foes is now 4-5.
Meanwhile, Gorimbo has shared the cage with veterans like Mazany, Mynhardt, Rocha and Alex Cheboub. This isn’t exactly a who’s who of MMA fighters, though, and Gorimbo did suffer setbacks against the first two men on this list. However, it has provided him with plenty of experience against legitimate opponents.
The 23-year-old Karam is a strong wrestler, but he’ll have to be careful against Gorimbo. The champ has recorded five submission wins and could be a threat to catch Karam in a choke or an armbar. Karam has thus far shown very little to suggest he’s a championship caliber fighter at the EFC level. Gorimbo should expose the holes in his game and coax a tapout before all is said and done.
Other key bouts: Niel Du Plessis (3-1) vs. Stefan Pretorius (3-5), Tshilomba Mikixi (3-0) vs. August Kayambala (2-1)
Batsumberel Dagvadorj (7-0) vs. Takashi Yamashita (6-5)
It’s not often that we turn our eyes on Mongolia in this feature, but the country serves as host to one undefeated prospect who competes this weekend. Welterweight Batsumberel Dagvadorj is set to compete at Mongol Fighting Championship’s third event. The 7-0 fighter collides with Japan’s Takashi Yamashita, who sits just one fight above the .500 mark.
Dagvadorj looks like perhaps the best hope for a breakout MMA star from his homeland. In addition to six victories in the region, he also ventured to America last year for a stop at Bellator 226. That was an eye-opener to Dagvadorj’s doubters. His previous victims had mostly been regional cannon fodder, but the bulldog-choke finish of James Terry gave the 32-year-old a true feather in his cap. Terry’s no champion, but he’s a veteran who has typically only lost to fighters near or at the highest levels of the sport. “The Mongolian Falcon” is also responsible for the first loss on the record of Joaquin Lopez, a prospect who has made one stop in the Legacy Fighting Alliance.
Yamashita is actually quite the step down from Dagvadorj’s two most recent foes. The Japanese fighter is on a three-fight skid that includes one setback under the Pancrase banner. He debuted in 2013 and actually won six of his first eight fights. His wins, however, have come against subpar competition. His debut ended in a keylock submission of Yutaka Kobayashi, who was 6-15-4 at the time and is now 11-23-4. The Mach Dojo export’s remaining victories include three over rookie opponents, one over a winless foe with only one previous pro fight under his belt, and a first-round stoppage of sub-.500 fighter Shinnosuke Oba.
It would be an upset of epic proportions if Dagvadorj suffers a loss this weekend. He’s back on home soil against a fairly easy adversary. Yamashita has some power, but he’s really only displayed it against the most unproven of talents. Dagvadorj should be able to get the better of his Japanese counterpart regardless of where the fight goes.
The Mongolian star should add to his unblemished mark against a fighter who has already experienced a lot of adversity in his fights. Not counting the foul that ended his bout with Hyung Seok Lee, Yamashita has not seen an early end in a defeat since his first loss to Muslim Salikhov in 2015. This trend could change when he runs into Dagvadorj, who should be able to score a knockout here.
Other key bouts: Nandin-Erdene Munguntsooj (11-6) vs. Otgonbaatar Nergui (5-2-1), Lamar Gosey (3-0) vs. Ariunbold Tur-Ochir (1-1), Magomed Kabardiev (4-0) vs. Davaabayar Enkhtaivan (1-2)
Serbian Battle Championship 27: Revenge
Sportska Hala CFK in Vrbas, Serbia Event Date: March 14 Website:sbc.rs/en
Miro Jurković (9-1) vs. Jefferson Santos (10-8-1)
Mongolia isn’t the only corner of the world where fight fans will see a near-perfect fighter tangle with an opponent who’s struggling to stay on the right side of .500. The Serbian Battle Championship organization is set to feature a middleweight title clash between champion Miro Jurković and challenger Jefferson Santos.
Jurković, a native of Serbia, made his pro debut in 2013, but he didn’t really get rolling until 2016. He won his first six contests, including his one appearance with Britain’s Cage Warriors organization. Jurković finally stumbled in a battle with fellow undefeated up-and-comer Manoel Fernandes Neto at SBC 21. He bounced back with decisions in his next two fights before rematching Neto, who by then also sported one pro loss. The rematch was for the vacant SBC middleweight title, and this time it was Jurković who emerged with his hand raised. The Serbian fighter has recorded three knockouts and one submission victory.
The 29-year-old Santos hails from Brazil. He debuted with a loss in 2006, but didn’t return to action again until 2011. After a stretch in which he went 7-2-1, his fortunes headed south. The Fefel Team representative lost two fights in a row by split decision. After rebounding with a win, he again suffered back-to-back defeats. Santos again bounced back with two wins, but his most recent outing ended in a loss for the Brazilian.
The combined records of the fighters Santos has beaten since 2017 stands at 9-25 at the time of their encounters and now sits at 10-31. Meanwhile, he’s suffered his losses in this same span against opponents who carried a combined mark of 9-3 at the time and now enjoy a 15-4 combined record. Clearly, he feeds on low-level competition.
Jurković does not fit the profile of a fighter who will fall to Santos. He doesn’t really have any signature wins of his own, but he’s also been able to win all but one of his fights and avenged that single defeat. He’ll also be comfortable fighting in his homeland against an opponent who has rarely ventured outside of Brazil. Santos has somehow managed to keep even his losses close, so this one might end in a narrow decision from the judges, albeit still one that favors Jurković.
Other key bouts: Bojan Velickovic (16-10-2) vs. Escley Araujo (5-1), Goran Reljić (17-8) vs. Pedro Brum (6-9-1), Fabio Maldonado (25-14) vs. Pelu Adetola (7-8), Vladislav Kanchev (10-5-2) vs. Lincoln Henrique (10-2) for the welterweight title, Julio Cesar Araujo (8-1) vs. Nathan Oliveira (5-3), Junior Albini (14-6) vs. Dritan Barjamaj (17-19), Predrag Bogdanović (4-0) vs. Danillo Santos (5-0)
The Best of the Rest
Armia Fight Night 8: Tomasz Jakubiec (10-2) vs. Gianni Melillo (13-5) for the middleweight title
Oktagon MMA 16: Gábor Boráros (18-7-1) vs. Niklas Stolze (12-3) Watch Event: live pay-per-view stream at oktagon.tv
New Fighting Generation 15: Battlefield: Flavio Pina (21-9) vs. Vadim Kutsy (14-1)
War of Titans II: Yan Cabral (14-3) vs. John Maguire (26-13)
Last Week’s Scorecard
Aliyar Sarkerov vs. Lucas Oliveira at OFS 14
Sarkerov by submission
Matt Dixon vs. Justin Patterson at LFA 83
Dixon by knockout
Dixon by decision
Madars Fleminas vs. Adam Proctor at Cage Warriors 112
Proctor by submission
Proctor by decision
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