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 obscurity, 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, from the small convention centers and high school gymnasiums to the developmental leagues that serve as a launching pad to the big show. It all begins with promotions such as these…
Jarrah Al-Silawi (14-3) vs. Melvin van Suijdam (11-5)
The Brave Combat Federation has been going strong with a recent flyweight tournament that includes Zach Makovsky and Jose “Shorty” Torres, but its upcoming 43rd event shines a spotlight on welterweight kingpin Jarrah Al-Silawi. “The Jordanian Lion” moves up to middleweight to take on Melvin van Suijdam.
Al-Silawi, who turned pro in 2013, has had lengthy stays with Cage Warriors, Desert Force and now Brave CF. The Gladiator MMA product has compiled a 14-3 mark, primarily across the three aforementioned promotions. The first of his setbacks came in his sophomore effort against Carl Booth, who scored a quick knockout of Al-Silawi. Roughly three and a half years later, Al-Silawi decisioned Booth to avenge the loss. The Jordanian’s second stumble came via split decision to Mohammad Fakhreddine, whom he had previously submitted. He eventually went on to win the Brave CF welterweight crown with a first-round finish of Carlston Harris, but he fell short in his first defense against Abdoul Abdouraguimov. However, he regained the belt in a rematch less than six months later. Al-Silawi has not seen action since that October 2019 fight. He may have dodged a bullet when Brave’s April event was scrapped — Al-Silawi was set to meet Khamzat Chimaev, who has since gone on to blaze through the competition in the UFC.
Van Suijdam made his pro debut with a 2010 loss to Djamil Chan. He, too, rebounded with a solid four-fight winning streak, but that success came to a halt with back-to-back losses against Paulo Boer and Albert Duraev in 2013. The Dutch kickboxer took a lengthy hiatus from pro MMA after those losses. He returned in 2017 and posted another four-fight winning streak, this time against a tougher set of opponents. The Days Gym product suffered his next setback against Louis Glismann in 2018. He’s gone 3-1 in the aftermath of that loss, with finishes in each of his victories.
Al-Silawi also has a kickboxing background, but he has developed his grappling game to the point where he actually has as many submissions (5) as knockouts. Still, his best path to victory likely involves his striking arsenal. He has strong kicks and uses his range well. He likely gained quite a bit of confidence in his rematch with Abdouraguimov, whose takedowns he was able to thwart with regularity en route to a TKO finish when Abdouraguimov couldn’t answer the bell for the fourth round. Al-Silawi displayed a great all-around game in the bout, and now he has his sights set on a possible trilogy fight up at middleweight with Fakhreddine. This would be a champion-versus-champion headliner, but first Al-Silawi has to prove himself worthy against Van Suijdam.
The Dutch fighter has an embarrassingly weak strength of schedule. Prior to his long layoff, he had yet to score a victory over an opponent with a winning record. Meanwhile, his defeats came to a fellow rookie in his pro debut, a 6-0 prospect, and a middling 3-2 foe. Upon his return, he did beat four fighters with winning records, but he also suffered losses to a 2-1 Glismann and a 5-2 Piotr Poniedziałek. This entire time, he bounced around between small regional organizations, with the only exception coming in his loss to Duraev under the M-1 Challenge banner.
Van Suijdam does have four finishes via strikes, but he doesn’t seem to possess the speed or dynamic striking of Al-Silawi. Still, his flurries can get the job done when they land cleanly. This makes the Dutchman a respectable opponent for Al-Silawi’s move up in weight. The Jordanian star will have to avoid the surges of Van Suijdam, but he should find plenty of success in what could turn into a kickboxing match. Ultimately, Al-Silawi will be the one to find the knockout.
Other key bouts: Kasum Kasumov (12-1) vs. Dimitar Kostov (11-6), Muhammad Mokaev (2-0) vs. Jamie Kelly (3-0), Akhmed Shervaniev (14-1-1) vs. Arman Popal (5-2), Bernardo Sopai (8-1) vs. Gerson Pereira (12-7), Tae Kyun Kim (6-0) vs. Arturo Chavez (7-6), Abdysalam Kubanychiev (15-3) vs. Abdulrakhman Madhazhiev (9-5), Anzor Abdulkhozhaev (10-1) vs. Soheil Davoodi (8-1)
Kevin Wirth (8-1) vs. Askar Askar (10-1)
The Legacy Fighting Alliance finally moves on from its recent encampment in Sioux Falls, S.D., and heads to Kansas for its 92nd show. The league has booked an excellent headliner for this one that pits Askar Askar against fellow bantamweight Kevin Wirth.
The 26-year-old Askar followed up a 6-1 amateur stint with 10 wins out of the gates as a pro. He was rolling right along until he clashed with Saidyokub Kakharamonov in February. Askar lasted just 39 seconds against the Professional Fighters League veteran. Prior to that setback, he had posted three wins each by knockout and submission to accompany four decision nods. The Palestinian-born fighter has made one previous stop in the LFA and also appeared in the Titan Fighting Championship cage. However, much of his career has been spent with Hoosier Fight Club.
Wirth, 33, is a far more familiar face to LFA fans. “Mr. Nice Guy” is 2-1 with the organization and co-headlined in his last appearance at LFA 74. He came up through King of the Cage and also made one appearance with Cage Fury FC. Since his 2016 pro debut, the Colorado native has racked up eight wins, but only three of them have come via stoppage. His most notable victory was a decision nod over Ryan Lilley in the aforementioned LFA 74 affair.
Askar’s loss to Kakharamonov came in a 39-second barnburner in which both men swung for the fences. The Chicago resident will not want to engage in a similar fight with Wirth. “Mr. Nice Guy” has the ability to finish opponents with kicks as well as punches. If Askar throws caution to the wind, he could end up falling victim to a repeat of his last fight.
Yet, Wirth doesn’t tend to be much of a finisher despite his sometimes flashy striking arsenal. His approach is typically to outpoint his foes en route to the judges’ scorecards. He almost experienced this outcome against Isaiah Gutierrez before landing a beautiful head kick in the third frame. More recently, he took a unanimous decision over Lilley.
Given Wirth’s time in the LFA cage — he’s seen two of his three fights go the distance and the other make it into the final stanza — he should have the confidence edge over Askar. It’ll be interesting to see how Askar handles his first pro loss, but he could prove to be more conservative than normal, which would play into Wirth’s strategy. Wirth will get the better of Askar through three rounds and walk away with yet another decision on his record.
Other key bouts: Andre Fialho (10-3) vs. Antônio dos Santos Jr. (8-4), Justin Wetzell (5-1) vs. Jordan Mapa (3-2), Mefi Monterroso (5-1) vs. Rodney Kealohi (4-1), Ali Zebian (4-1) vs. Viecheslav Borshchev (1-0)
Stephan Puetz (19-4) vs. Walter Chincho Jr. (6-0)
Germany’s Fair Fighting Championship organization is back for its 10th event. What the card lacks in depth, it makes up for with several significant names. The biggest of these names is Stephan Puetz. The M-1 Challenge veteran brings a four-fight winning streak into his featured light-heavyweight championship showdown with undefeated Brazilian upstart Walter Chincho Jr.
Puetz made his pro debut in 2012 and managed to rack up nine wins by the end of 2013. He suffered his only defeat when he fell on the scorecards to European journeyman Joachim Christensen. He rebounded with a title win over Viktor Nemkov and three successful defenses, including a TKO victory over formerly undefeated prospect and future UFCer Marcin Tybura. Those three defenses came against opponents who sported a combined 32-1 record when they faced Puetz. Eventually, Puetz dropped the title back to Nemkov. After an additional two victories, the 33-year-old German, who has a background in judo, suffered back-to-back losses to Rashid Yusupov, who would go on to compete in the PFL, and Khadis Ibragimov, who is now in the UFC. The Team MMA Spirit product has won eight of his fights via strikes and six by way of submission.
Chincho is not your typical six-fight up-and-comer. Instead, he’s a 37-year-old whose MMA debut came in 2011. He won two fights that year and added another three victories from 2013-15. He was absent from the sport for nearly five years before returning in January at Jungle Fight 101 with a first-round finish of Ricardo Pinho.
Chincho’s fight with Pinho looked like something out of a Toughman contest. Both fighters were slow and lacked technique. At one point, Pinho had Chincho on the ground and was raining down ground-and-pound shots that should have ended the contest. However, he couldn’t defend a very sloppy sweep and was instead victimized by Chincho’s ground-and-pound. Let’s just say that the 37-year-old did not look impressive. He winged punch after punch, but they almost looked as if they were thrown in slow motion.
Puetz is a far more skilled, experienced and serious fighter. He’s proven good enough to hand out a setback to someone of Tybura’s caliber, and he’s performed admirably against all but the best fighters he’s encountered. Chincho, meanwhile, has a spotty MMA career and doesn’t possess the refined game to deal with someone like Puetz. Puetz should be able to take the win here by whatever method he chooses, but a knockout does seem likely.
Other key bouts: Christian Eckerlin (11-5) vs. Antonio Gordillo (13-3) for the middleweight title
The Best of the Rest
Fight Exclusive Night 30: LOTOS Fight Night 3: Robert Bryczek (11-3) vs. Virgiliu Frasineac (9-1) for the welterweight title
MMA Series-16: Sergey Dyakonov (9-2) vs. Mikhail Sysoev (10-8)
Fight Nation Championship: Armagedon 3: Milos Cvetkovic (4-0) vs. Jakob Kosić (2-1)
Real Fight Promotion 80: Lviv Open Cup 2020: Yuriy Klimchuk (6-0) vs. Dmytro Vlasiuk (5-6)
Last Week’s Scorecard
Chi Lewis-Parry vs. Fabio Maldonado at UAE Warriors 13
Lewis-Parry by knockout
Lewis-Parry by knockout
Jack Cartwright vs. Gerardo Fanny at Cage Warriors 115
Cartwright by submission
Cartwright by submission
Mason Jones vs. Adam Proctor at Cage Warriors 116
Proctor by decision
Jones by knockout
In Hindsight: Lewis-Parry had no problem turning in the predicted TKO finish against UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado in the UAE Warriors 13 headliner. The former GLORY kickboxer’s power was far too much for his aging opponent. Lewis-Parry hurt Maldonado early and moved in for the kill with a flurry of punches and elbows. The fight barely lasted more than a minute…Cartwright lived up to the hype by scoring the predicted first-round submission of Fanny. The reigning champion easily took down Fanny early in the opening frame and even overcame a mistake that cost him position. Once back in control, he found the arm-triangle choke for the tapout in just over two minutes…Proctor made it a competitive fight while it lasted against Jones, but he came nowhere close to the predicted decision victory. Instead, Jones, as is typical in his fights, used his sneaky power to score two first-round knockdowns, the second of which led to an eventual TKO finish. Jones is now a two-division Cage Warriors champion…”Best of the Rest” fighters Nariman Abbasov, Said Sowma and Dariya Zheleznyakova scored stoppage wins, while Magdaléna Šormová earned a decision nod. Sowma claimed the Titan FC heavyweight title with his victory over Bobby Brents.
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