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: March 6
Aliyar Sarkerov (36-3) vs. Lucas Oliveira (20-6)
Not many fighters can boast a win-loss margin on par with Russia’s Aliyar Sarkerov. The “Tiger” has 39 pro fights and only three setbacks. Now, the 29-year-old is set to defend his Octagon Fighting Sensation featherweight crown against 26-fight veteran Lucas Oliveira at OFS 14.
Sarkerov’s huge winning percentage can be misleading. The Golden Team representative suffered his losses to Russian circuit standout Tural Ragimov, future UFCer Guan Wang, and longtime M-1 staple Ivan Buchinger. Meanwhile, his most notable victories came against the likes of Paata Robakidze, Mauricio Machado and UFC vet Tuerxun Jumabieke. Overall, his strength of schedule is fairly weak. However, Sarkerov does have an excellent finishing rate. He’s submitted 22 opponents and knocked out another nine. He hasn’t lost since his 2015 knockout at the hands of Buchinger. This puts the Russian on a 20-fight winning streak. He did have a quiet 2019, but he’s typically been a very active fighter since his 2012 debut.
Brazil’s Oliveira definitely can’t boast the same head-turning record. He doesn’t even carry a winning streak into this fight. His last outing, which came in October, lasted just 38 seconds and ended in a knockout loss to José Alexandre. The 25-year-old did run up a tally of eight wins in a row at one point in his career, but his usual trend is to win a few and then suffer a loss. He never has lost back-to-back contests, though. “Luquinhas” has a balanced record with seven knockouts and seven submissions. In the loss column, he’s been more prone to knockouts. He debuted in 2013, but didn’t make his sophomore appearance until a 2017 stumble against Lincoln de Sá. His subsequent losses have come against fighters with records of 0-1, 5-2, 4-11, 9-5 and 24-12.
Oliveira makes a perfect opponent for Sarkerov to further pad his record. The Brazilian has struggled throughout his career, and those hard times came at flyweight and bantamweight. He’s likely to be the smaller man this weekend, which only compounds his iffy chin. He could be muscled to the ground by the Russian grappler as well.
Sarkerov isn’t quite the world-beater that his immense winning percentage would suggest, but he’s arguably the best fighter Oliveira has encountered since that early loss to de Sá. Given his lack of a chin, the Brazilian could end up being dropped by the champ. However, Sarkerov’s preference for the submission is quite clear. De Sá tapped Oliveira, and now it could be Sarkerov’s turn.
Other key bouts: Salih Kurbanov (5-0) vs. Paata Robakidze (28-18), Nikolai Kaushansky (14-3) vs. Konstantin Goncharuk (3-1), Anton Ghorun (1-0) vs. Antonio Serre (3-1), Dastan Dushanov (1-0) vs. Leonid Chebotarev (2-1)
Event Date: March 6
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Matt Dixon (8-0) vs. Justin Patterson (11-5)
Matt Dixon has been waiting nearly a year to advance his flawless record. Now, at the 83rd event from the Legacy Fighting Alliance, he’ll get his chance. His fight serves as the co-headliner behind Damon Jackson’s main-event appearance opposite Mauro Chaulet. Dixon meets veteran Justin Patterson in a welterweight clash.
The 24-year-old Dixon made his pro debut in 2017 after a perfect five-fight stay at the amateur level. He joined the Xtreme Fighting League promotion for his sophomore effort and became a mainstay of the company through 2019. Along the way, he stopped five opponents with his fists and one — his pro debut — by way of submission while also claiming and defending the league’s welterweight strap. His most noteworthy opponents in this stretch were LFA vets Chauncey Foxworth and Braden Smith, plus Bellator veteran Codale Ford.
Patterson, 34, has made several notable stops during his career. He appeared once with Combate Americas and had a lengthy stay in Bellator before landing with the LFA. He’s delivered mixed results, though. After a six-fight winning streak that began with his 2012 pro debut, the Texas-based fighter ran into trouble in his first Bellator fight. Patterson was submitted in the first round of that affair by the aforementioned Ford. He squeaked past future UFC fighter Chance Rencountre in his next bout, but then suffered a knockout loss at the hands of Jordan Plaisance. After rebounding with two victories, including one over Ford to avenge his prior loss, Patterson again faltered, this time with back-to-back losses that included a first-round submission from Rencountre. After once again registering two consecutive wins, Patterson lost his most recent fight against Derrick Krantz at LFA 63 nearly a year ago.
Patterson is a great test to see if Dixon is the real deal. This is a fighter who narrowly beat a future UFC fighter at one point, but also is not an insurmountable task for a solid up-and-comer. Patterson is also coming off a loss in a high-profile spot for the LFA. If Dixon wins, he’s set himself up as a top LFA fighter who might only need one more “audition” before getting the call from the UFC.
Patterson, like Dixon, likes to stand and bang. He’s recorded five knockouts and just one submission victory. This could turn into a brawl, and Patterson is sure to push the Oklahoman to his limits. Dixon’s two decisions came against Foxworth and Ford, but he did register the finish against Smith in his most recent outing. He should hand Patterson another knockout loss, but it’s possible this one goes to the judges before Dixon’s hand is raised.
Other key bouts: Damon Jackson (16-3-1) vs. Mauro Chaulet (14-6), Victor Altamarino (6-1) vs. Chris Ocon (4-1), Hailey Cowan (4-1) vs. Brittney Cloudy (2-1), Fernie Garcia (6-1) vs. Jay Viola (3-1), Elijah Johns (5-1) vs. Justin Overton (8-4)
Event Date: March 7
Watch Event: live main-card stream on UFC Fight Pass, live prelim stream on cagewarriors.com
Madars Fleminas (7-0) vs. Adam Proctor (11-1)
As with the LFA card, Cage Warriors Fighting Championship’s 112th edition features a solid main event accompanied by an excellent co-headliner. In the case of the co-main event, both fighters carry strong prospect records. This makes welterweights Madars Fleminas and Adam Proctor our focus here.
Latvia’s Fleminas has a perfect mark through seven professional appearances. The 31-year-old lost his first amateur fight, but eventually tallied a 9-1 record before transitioning to the pro ranks in late 2017. He’s bounced between Caged Steel FC and Cage Warriors, but his most recent scrap came with Cage Warriors in October, when he was able to hand out the first pro loss to George Hardwick via decision. This was the third straight fight where Fleminas spoiled a fellow prospect’s perfect record. The Bateman MMA fighter, who is based out of England, has three knockouts and one submission as a pro. He won a majority of his ammy bouts via knockout.
Fleminas may be undefeated, but Proctor is arguably the bigger star in this British showdown. The 24-year-old has made several appearances with Cage Warriors and also fought once with England’s other major organization, BAMMA. “The Love Doctor” debuted in late 2014 and compiled five wins before suffering a setback when he was submitted by Aaron Khalid. Proctor rebounded with six straight wins. He, too, has been able to dole out the first career losses to a couple of prospects. Proctor has yet to score a knockout, but he has finished five opponents via submission.
The outcome of this fight rests heavily on where it takes place. Fleminas definitely favors his fists, whereas Proctor will look to bring the fight to the mat and work toward a submission. However, Fleminas stays active while on his back. The Latvian will attempt sweeps and work to get back to his feet if taken down. Fleminas also loves to counter takedowns and clinches by attacking with chokes.
Despite Proctor’s lack of a knockout, he has a strong striking arsenal and a solid chin. He tends to shoot fast and low for the takedown, which might even help him avoid Fleminas’ guillotine attempts. Proctor’s combination of striking, wrestling and grappling definitely makes him the more rounded fighter. Given his ability to stand and trade, he might just be able to wear down Fleminas on the feet before shifting gears and going for the takedown. He’ll use his opponent’s active bottom game to set up an eventual submission finish.
Other key bouts: Jack Cartwright (7-0) vs. Manuel Bilić (15-6) for the bantamweight title, Martin Stapleton (19-7) vs. Yassine Belhadj (6-2), Adam Wilson (4-0) vs. Scott Malone (6-3), Paul Hughes (4-0) vs. Youri Panada (4-1), Johan Segas (3-0) vs. Nathan Fletcher (2-0), Liam Gittins (5-0) vs. Jonas Magard (10-4)
I Am Fighter 2: Tomáš Deák (20-9-1) vs. Moktar Benkaci (19-7)
Eternal MMA 52: Chelsea Hackett (2-0-1) vs. Rhiannon Thompson (5-3)
Thunderstrike Fight League 20: Sky Tattoo Night: Cezary Kęsik (11-0) vs. Georgi Lobzhanidze (10-4) for the middleweight title
Ohio Combat League 7: Jacob Miller (5-1) vs. Anthony Romero (6-0) for the lightweight title
|Mike Graves vs. Yuri Villefort at Titan FC 59||Graves by decision||Graves by knockout|
|Charisa Sigala vs. Stephanie Frausto at Combate 56||Frausto by knockout||Frausto by knockout|
|Mukhamed Eminov vs. Aleksandr Grozin at FNG||Grozin by decision||Eminov by decision|