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…
John Gotti III (5-0) vs. Nick Alley (6-3)
When you have an infamous last name like Gotti, you’re going to get noticed. When you’re the grandson of the famous mobster and an undefeated mixed martial artist through five pro fights, you might really garner attention. That’s a big reason why John Gotti III takes headlining honors at CES 61 opposite fellow welterweight Nick Alley.
After posting a 5-1 mark as an amateur, Gotti began his pro campaign in late 2017. He’s been a fixture in CES, where he has already picked up five pro victories. His first three outings came against winless opponents who he dominated and finished within the first round. He continued his streak of early stoppages at CES 56 when he beat David Espino, who was his most accomplished opponent to that point with a 3-2 record entering the fight. The 27-year-old Gotti, who trains out of Long Island MMA, finally left the first round in his most recent affair when he went the distance against 12-fight veteran Marcos Lloreda.
Alley, meanwhile, hasn’t found the same level of success. The 29-year-old went 3-1 as an amateur before making the jump to the pro ranks in 2016. He got off to a nice start with three victories, including two submissions and one knockout. This earned him a spot on the Bellator 178 card, where he was finished by Khastroit Xhema. Two additional knockout losses, including one under the CES banner, followed. Alley finally returned to the win column against a winless opponent and then extended his streak with back-to-back victories over fighters with extreme losing records.
This would appear to be a grappler-versus-striker match-up, with Gotti sporting four knockouts as a pro and Alley having collected five tapouts. Yet, Gotti has displayed a balanced approach that incorporates both striking and wrestling. The more significant statistic here, however, is Alley’s tendency to suffer his losses via knockout. He has been stopped via strikes on three separate occasions.
Gotti demonstrated his wrestling against the aforementioned Espino and Lloreda. After taking Espino’s back, he hoisted him in the air and slammed him to the mat. It was actually the slam that dazed Espino and began the knockout sequence. Lloreda was Gotti’s biggest challenge, but Gotti repeatedly ended up in top position on the mat. He scored primarily with ground-and-pound, but he also made some mistakes that put him in bad positions. However, Gotti remained composed and worked his way out of any submission attempts Lloreda threw his way.
Alley could pose a threat to Gotti on the ground. He’s certainly the most successful grappler to go up against the rising prospect. However, he has a lot of holes in his game. Alley’s chin is pretty shaky, even leading to one knockout loss against a sub-.500 opponent as the bell rang to end the opening round. He absorbs quite a few punches, too. In addition, Alley is not strong in getting takedowns or holding top position. Given Gotti’s mix of boxing and wrestling, Alley is going to struggle in this fight.
Alley’s knockout losses weren’t even against a proven quick finisher like Gotti. That makes this into a don’t-blink-or-you-might-miss-it affair. As long as Gotti doesn’t make an atrocious misstep on the ground, it’s very likely that the man with the famous name will add another quick knockout finish to his resume.
Other key bouts: Yu Ji (3-0) vs. Fabio Cherant (5-1), Ashiek Ajim (3-0) vs. Kris Moutinho (7-4), Mitch Raposo (4-0) vs. Matt Almy (4-3), Connor Matthews (2-0) vs. Joshua Marer (2-1), Eddy George (1-0) vs. Frank Mazepa (0-0)
Wildemar Santos (7-0) vs. Caio Borralho (7-1)
The 12th show from Brazil’s Future FC is packed with title fights that feature intriguing prospects, including Jackson Loureiro and Adilson Fernandes, plus a tough test for undefeated upstart Matheus Mendonça. However, it’s the clash for the middleweight title that catches the eye thanks to the undefeated mark of Wildemar Santos. Santos might have his hands full, though, when he fights Caio Borralho for the belt.
After a 1-1 amateur stint, the 24-year-old Santos made his pro debut in 2017. “Besouro” ran through the competition, beginning with a choke submission of Helvécio Bessa Jr. He added wins over established Brazilian regional fighters Fernando Ribeiro and Rafael Teixeira. He found three submissions over his four most recent appearances.
Borralho has suffered one setback through eight pro bouts. The 27-year-old debuted in 2014, but he dropped his sophomore appearance in 2015 to fellow undefeated prospect João Carvalho. He has since added six victories while bringing his career totals to three knockout victories and three submissions. “Cara de Kombi” is a member of Combat Club and Vila da Luta.
Santos is aggressive once he takes an opponent’s back. He’ll hunt for the rear-naked choke, a finish he has used in several of his fights. “Besouro” has also demonstrated strong takedown defense. He has a surprisingly good strength of schedule for a fighter on the Brazilian circuit, but that’s likely because he’s spent a majority of his time in Shooto Brazil.
Borralho utilizes a karate stance. He’ll bounce in and out to land strikes. However, his base is jiu-jitsu, and he won’t hesitate to hunt for the takedown when the opportunity presents itself. He’s excellent in scrambles, and he has a sneaky submission game. Borralho even managed to tap Otávio Sagás with a guillotine from an upright sitting position that hardly involved the use of his legs to trap his foe.
Both of these men are great at riding the flow of their opponent and attacking with the submission when the fight hits the ground. This could be a treat for MMA fans who prefer back-and-forth grappling battles. Borralho can be persistent with takedowns, which could give him the slight edge against Santos as long as he doesn’t end up losing the dominant position during the ensuing scrambles. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this ends in a submission for either fighter, but Borralho might have to settle for winning the control battle and taking the fight on the scorecards.
Other key bouts: Jackson Loureiro (11-1-1) vs. Elismar Lima (22-7) for the featherweight title, Luiz Cado (14-6-1) vs. Uyran Carlos (10-4) for the welterweight title, Adilson Fernandes (16-5) vs. Rodrigo Lidio (10-2) for the lightweight title, Matheus Mendonça (5-0) vs. Pedro Nobre (21-5-2), Pedro Machado (3-0) vs. Ramon Souza (3-2), Elvis Silva (11-5) vs. Eduardo da Silva (6-1), Elvis Martins (6-1) vs. Elves Brenner (11-2)
Andre Petroski (5-0) vs. Aaron Jeffery (8-2)
Legacy Fighting Alliance main events are often a rehearsal for the UFC. This will certainly be true for the LFA 93 headliner between Art of War Cage Fighting middleweight kingpin Andre Petroski and Dana White’s Contender Series alum Aaron Jeffery.
Petroski, 29, has managed a perfect record at the professional level after tallying seven wins through eight ammy contests. He’s been a mainstay for the Art of War organization at both levels, but he also appeared with Cage Fury Fighting Championships while competing as an amateur. Petroski turned pro in 2018 and won his first three fights, all within the first round. His two most recent outings have gone into the second stanza, but Petroski still managed to dominate these fights entirely. He’s a strong wrestler who can find submissions or pummel his foe with a steady diet of ground-and-pound.
Jeffery performed admirably while it lasted in his Contender Series fight against Brendan Allen in 2017, but he was simply outmatched by the Roufusport fighter. The 27-year-old assembled an 8-1 ammy record before making his pro debut in late 2014. He won his first two fights, but stumbled when he met Sean Brady in a welterweight affair in Cage Fury FC. He rebounded with another four wins, including three finishes, before running into the buzzsaw of Allen. Jeffery has since added another two stoppages via strikes.
These two men are physical grinders in the cage, but in very different ways. Jeffery’s style was once compared to that of Randy Couture during a King of the Cage broadcast. He works from the clinch and uses dirty boxing to wear down his foe. When there’s more separation, as in the Allen fight, Jeffery can throw combinations with power, but he’s also likely to get tagged. Meanwhile, Petroski is a strong wrestler who will seek takedowns and then punish his opponent from top position. His ground-and-pound has brought an early end to the nights of Shedrick Goodridge and Andre Hall all on its own, but it also opens up opportunities for submissions.
This clash will serve as a huge test for Petroski. He’s proven everything he can in Art of War, where the competition peaked for him with the 4-1 Hall. Now, Petroski is set to step in the cage with a Contender Series veteran whose only losses have come to current members of the UFC roster. Brady, a 2-0 upstart when he met and beat Jeffery, is now a perfect 13-0 with wins in all three of his UFC fights. Allen is also on a three-fight surge since joining the UFC following his stoppage of Jeffery. A win over Jeffery seems to be exclusive to UFC-caliber fighters, so Petroski will be especially motivated on Friday night.
It’s tough to see Jeffery out-muscling Petroski against the cage. The Art of War champ is just too strong and too good at getting his opponent to the canvas. If Jeffery locks up with him, then the Canadian could find himself in a similar position to where he ended up against Allen. Jeffery’s best bet might be to test Petroski’s striking. Petroski is powerful, but he also gets sloppy and ducks his head as he throws his punches. This could open some spots for Jeffery, who has tighter combinations, to rock Petroski and score points or perhaps a finish.
While Petroski could get caught, his wrestling is likely to be the deciding factor in this affair. Whether Jeffery looks for a clinch or tries to keep his distance, Petroski will insist on eventually dragging the fight to the mat. If he’s successful and gains top control, which he probably will do at multiple times in this bout, Petroski is going to deliver more punishment to Jeffery than the Canadian dishes out in return. This will likely lead to an opportunity for a submission win for Petroski as Jeffery tries to shield himself from those heavy blows.
Other key bouts: Sam Hughes (4-1) vs. Danielle Hindley (4-1), Joshua Fremd (5-1) vs. Antonio Jones (7-3), Elijah Johns (6-1) vs. Luke Faultersack (6-3), Carlos Hernandez (5-1) vs. Trevor Wells (3-1), Joshua DaSilveira (2-0) vs. Fernando Alvarado (1-1), Teshay Gouthro (3-0) vs. Justin Wetzell (5-1), John Pham (2-0) vs. Christian Rodriguez (3-0)
The Best of the Rest
Xtreme Fighting Championships 45: Brogan Anderson (13-3) vs. Cole Davids (9-3) for the middleweight title
Oktagon 17: Karlos Vémola (27-6) vs. Thomas Robertsen (8-3) Watch Event:oktagon.tv
Nação Cyborg 7: Silvania Monteiro (8-2) vs. Aline Pires (3-4) for the women’s atomweight title Watch Event: BandSports (Brazil)
World Warriors Fighting Championships 17: Lviv Fight Night: Kiril Gorobets (10-1) vs. Oleg Khachaturov (8-3) for the lightweight title
Last Week’s Scorecard
Marif Piraev vs. Timur Nagibin at RCC Intro IX
Nagibin by decision
Nagibin by decision
Scott Askham vs. Mamed Khalidov at KSW 55
Askham by decision
Khalidov by knockout
Gilberto Dias vs. Tiago Xavier at Arena Global 8
Dias by submission
Xavier by decision
In Hindsight: The prediction for the fight between Nagibin and Piraev was spot on. Nagibin looked good in his first fight at welterweight, too. He stuffed Piraev’s early takedown attempts with ease and occasionally teed off on his foe. Still, it remained a close fight in which Piraev even rocked Nagibin in the closing seconds of round two. In the end, though, Nagibin was still able to secure the predicted decision…The prediction for the KSW 55 headliner included a big conditional statement: If Khalidov didn’t change his game plan from the pair’s first encounter, then the likely outcome would again have Askham taking the decision. However, Khalidov realized he needed a different strategy, and he implemented it perfectly. Askham didn’t do himself any favors either by willingly engaging on the feet with Khalidov, who obliterated him in just 36 seconds with a head kick that led to the knockout finish…Dias did not come through with the predicted submission finish. Xavier proved to be skilled enough to avoid getting caught and instead outworked Dias to earn the judges’ nod…Several notable fighters from last week’s ”Best of the Rest” section also prevailed. UFC veteran Jason High scored a huge stoppage win in his first fight in more than two years, while Daiana Torquato took home the split verdict over UFC castoff Sarah Frota. Meanwhile, Italy’s Micol di Segni scored a third-round TKO finish over Audrey Kerouche.
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