Danielle Taylor vs. Montserrat Ruiz

Out of Obscurity: XFC 43, MMA Series-20 and KSW 56

Bryan Henderson Editor-in-Chief

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…


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Xtreme Fighting Championships 43
Tabernacle in Atlanta
Event Date: Nov. 11
Website: xfcmma.net
Watch Event: NBC Sports (main card), Fite TV free stream via Combat Press (prelims)
Twitter: @officialxfc

Spotlight Fight:
Jessica Aguilar (20-8) vs. Danielle Taylor (10-5)

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. For the first time in nearly seven years, the Xtreme Fighting Championships promotion is set to host an event on American shores. The organization, which has been putting on events in Brazil in recent years, has inked some familiar faces for its 43rd show, including featured strawweight ladies Jessica Aguilar and Danielle Taylor.

Aguilar was once considered to be among the best 115-pounders in the world. The American Top Team fighter debuted in 2006 with a loss to Lisa Ellis, but quickly found her groove to rattle off eight wins over her next 10 fights before landing in Bellator. Once in Bellator, she added wins over the aforementioned Ellis, Carla Esparza and Megumi Fujii while also suffering a loss to Zoila Frausto. After securing a second victory over Fujii in Japan, Aguilar moved on to the World Series of Fighting. There, she captured the strawweight crown with a submission of Alida Gray and made successful defenses of the belt with decisions over Emi Fujino and Kalindra Faria. “Jag’s” run of success came to a sudden halt when she joined the UFC in 2015. Over the next four years, she managed just one win — a decision nod over Jodie Esquibel — while suffering losses to Claudia Gadelha, Cortney Casey, Weili Zhang and Marina Rodriguez. The 38-year-old’s grappling base is evident in her tally of eight career submission victories.

The 31-year-old Taylor is also a UFC veteran, and her time with the organization was only slightly more kind to her than Aguilar’s own tenure. She dropped a split decision to Maryna Moroz in her Octagon debut and then won back-to-back contests against Seo Hee Ham — also by split decision — and Jessica Penne. Her fortunes shifted again with losses to JJ Aldrich and the aforementioned Zhang to send her packing. “Dynamite” landed in Invicta FC for a pair of fights, the most recent of which ended in a split-decision loss to Juliana Lima in a single-round affair in a one-night tournament. Prior to her time with the UFC, Taylor also enjoyed a title reign as King of the Cage’s women’s strawweight champion. She’s a grinder who has seen the scorecards in 10 of her pro fights, with six wins and four losses handed to her by the judges.

Aguilar has had the misfortune of tangling with some of the best strawweights in the world since she joined the UFC. Her most recent setbacks came to a woman who now reigns over the UFC’s strawweight division and a current contender who sits at No. 8 in the UFC’s official rankings. Her other losses in the Octagon were to the current No. 6 in the division and a game Casey who, while not a ranked fighter, managed to hold her own while almost squeaking out victories over the likes of Felice Herrig and Michelle Waterson. Aguilar’s main goals are to close distance, get into clinches, and take the fight to the mat. She’s a submission specialist who is comfortable working off her back for triangles and armbars.

Taylor is the lowest-ranked fighter that Aguilar has encountered in more than five years, but she’s no cellar dweller. She was able to eke out a split verdict over Ham, and she nearly did the same to Moroz and Lima. She topped a former Invicta standout in Penne and even went the distance with current champ Zhang, whereas Aguilar was tapped by the Chinese fighter in less than four minutes. Taylor has some power — she’s scored three knockouts in her career — but her movement and speed also contribute to her ability to keep fights close.

Aguilar can box, but she tends to plant and throw. Taylor, meanwhile, stays light on her feet and uses lateral movement while seeking to counter her opponent. Taylor doesn’t often end up in clinch situations, but her fight with Lima was proof that she can use her strength to avoid takedowns and give her opponent headaches in those scenarios. Even when she gets taken down, Taylor can be a thorn in the side of her foe. Against Zhang, she attacked the leg, which allowed her to escape from a bad position and get the fight back to the feet.

Taylor’s overall grit will serve her well against Aguilar. The ATT product hasn’t been nearly as dominant as she once was, and Taylor’s footwork and underrated skills in the clinch and grappling realms will create problems for Aguilar. If “Jag” can return to her smothering wrestling and grappling of five-plus years ago, then she can pull out the victory here. However, Taylor is probably a little too fast and resourceful to play into Aguilar’s hands. Taylor will stick and move, while also holding her own when Aguilar does manage to initiate clinches. It’ll be another close fight, but Taylor should pull off the decision victory.

Other key bouts: Guilherme Faria (16-8) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (13-8), Kenneth Cross (11-3) vs. Jarel Askew (11-6), Joziro Boye (17-5-1) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (17-7), Scott Hudson (11-5-1) vs. D’Juan Owens (18-15-1), Carson Hardman (8-2) vs. Bradley Desir (10-6), Tom O’Connor (8-1) vs. Jose Caceres (15-10), Alex Sanchez (8-2) vs. LaRue Burley (9-4), Mike Hill (11-5-1) vs. Ryan Dickson (10-5)

MMA Series-20: Time of New Heroes 12
St. Petersburg, Russia
Event Date: Nov. 14
Website: mma-series.com
Watch Event: pay-per-view stream
via mma-series.com
Twitter: @M1GlobalNews

Spotlight Fight:
Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (11-0) vs. Vladimir Vasilyev (7-0)

While the other two events featured in this week’s edition of Out of Obscurity include some of the biggest names on the regional scene, the MMA Series-20 show presented by Fight Club Sech and M-1 Global shines a light on a pair of lesser-known prospects with undefeated marks. Someone’s unblemished record will take a hit when middleweights Gadzhi Omargadzhiev and Vladimir Vasilyev collide Saturday in Russia.

Omargadzhiev has a very misleading undefeated mark. He blended exhibition contests and amateur fights in among his official pro bouts. His 8-4 “amateur” tally has all come since his pro debut in 2013. The 27-year-old has competed in a number of tournament-style Russian and European MMA events, where he has suffered losses to fellow pros who now hold a combined 39-7-1 pro record. None of these setbacks have counted against Omargadzhiev’s pro mark, though. In official competition, the Golden Team fighter has fared better while fighting fewer opponents with significant experience. His perfect run has come primarily against foes with far less success, too. Only three of his adversaries had more than 10 fights when they clashed with the Russian fighter.

Vasilyev has also fought at the lower levels of the regional circuit in Russia and Europe. He debuted in 2018 and stormed through his first four opponents, all in the first round. His next two foes required a little more time, but the 21-year-old still managed stoppages in the second frame of those contests. Most recently, though, he went the distance with Ruslan Shamilov at MMA Series-11. While his opponents have also lacked significant experience, all of them have at least had winning records.

The youngster Vasilyev appears to have the more legitimate undefeated record. He’s developing into a solid regional prospect who can get the job done regardless of where the fight goes. He mixes in kicks nicely to form combinations as he surges forward and attacks his opponent. He’s not content to defend when fighting off his back, either. He’ll work to either escape the position or lure his opponent into a submission.

While Omargadzhiev has registered most of his stoppage victories via strikes, he’s hardly a stand-up fighter. He’ll bide his time, often throwing low kicks at a high volume as he waits for an opportunity to shoot for a takedown. He has a smothering top game. He doesn’t leave any space as he controls from the side position or full mount. He also loves to trap foes in the crucifix. From any of these spots, he’ll start bombarding his opponent with ground-and-pound strikes. Often, this is enough to lead to the finish by itself. When it isn’t, Omargadzhiev will use the ground-and-pound as a means to force his opponent to leave openings for a submission.

The losses that Omargadzhiev has experienced in amateur competition are reason for concern. However, three of those setbacks came to fighters who have gone on to compete in larger regional organizations. The majority of the defeats also came more than five years ago. Overall, Omargadzhiev has demonstrated that he can be a dominant fighter who absolutely crushes opponents on the canvas. He’s also good at avoiding submissions, which is a skill that will be useful against Vasilyev. As long as he doesn’t get careless and leave his arm for the taking or jump right into a triangle, Omargadzhiev should continue his trend of ground-and-pound finishes with a TKO of Vasilyev.

Other key bouts: Rakhmatullo Sattarov (5-1) vs. Anton Volkov (3-1)

KSW 56
Łódź, Poland
Event Date: Nov. 14
Website: konfrontacja.com
Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream
via Combat Press
Twitter: @KSW_MMA

Spotlight Fight:
Tomasz Narkun (17-3) vs. Ivan Erslan (9-0)

KSW might arguably be right up there with the UFC and Bellator MMA in the running for the most compelling show of the week. The main event between former KSW middleweight kingpin Michał Materla and reigning welterweight champ Roberto Soldić is sure to be an intriguing affair, and the co-headlining light-heavyweight title bout between champion Tomasz Narkun and undefeated challenger Ivan Erslan is equally worthy of attention. While it’s tempting to look at both, we’ll focus here on the championship contest.

Since his 2009 debut, Narkun has not been an easy opponent for anyone. After four victories, including several in an M-1 tournament, he unsuccessfully challenged for the M-1 belt. Vyacheslav Vasilevskiy was able to earn the TKO victory in a fight that came just over a year into Narkun’s pro run. Narkun made just one more appearance with M-1 while notching four more victories overall prior to his arrival in Poland’s KSW organization in 2014. After recording a 62-second submission finish in his promotional debut, Narkun suffered a setback when he lost via majority decision to Goran Reljić. It didn’t take the Berserker’s Team product long to turn things around. He won his next fight to set up a rematch with Reljić, this time with the KSW light-heavyweight strap on the line. Narkun avenged his previous loss to the Croatian with a stoppage in less than two minutes via strikes. He made three successful defenses, all via first-round finish, and then defeated KSW great Mamed Khalidov in a pair of catchweight non-title affairs. The 30-year-old then suffered his most recent loss when he stepped up to challenge Phil De Fries for the company’s heavyweight belt. Narkun has since returned to 205 pounds to make one more title defense, this time stopping Przemysław Mysiala within the first frame. The long-reigning champion has a career total of 13 submissions and three knockout victories.

It’s been more than seven years since Narkun has encountered an adversary with as little experience as Erslan. The challenger is just nine fights into his own pro campaign, and he’s making only his second appearance under the KSW banner. The Croatian debuted in 2015 and spent more than three years bouncing around the regional circuit while facing mostly inexperienced foes, including a few winless fighters. In 2019, he finally took a step up in competition when he met Roger Carroll, who was only one fight above the .500 mark before Erslan put him away with punches in just 97 seconds. A year ago, he debuted in KSW with another quick win, this time in 89 seconds against Darwin Rodriguez. The 28-year-old has since added another first-round stoppage while competing for the Fight Nation Championship organization. He’s a knockout artist who has five career finishes via strikes and just one submission victory.

Narkun, as a result of his lengthy run with the belt and his superfight victories over Khalidov, has established himself as one of the best fighters on the KSW roster. It took a step up to meet a true heavyweight for Narkun to suffer his only loss of the last five years, and even then he survived until the final bell. He’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but his stand-up arsenal is no joke either. He can be reckless when he charges forward, but he packs plenty of power and has a strong kicking game. Narkun isn’t afraid to fight off his back, a position from which he even tapped Khalidov in their first bout. He can be prone to flash knockdowns — it happened against both Khalidov and De Fries — but he recovers quickly.

Erslan has boxing experience and a strong kickboxing base. He has trained alongside the likes of the legendary Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović and spent time in Florida at American Top Team, but his primary camp is ATT Zagreb. While his record is officially perfect, he did suffer a knockout loss to Branko Busick, who was just 2-1 at the time and has not fought since, that was later overturned to a no-contest when Busick failed his drug test. Erslan has displayed strong wrestling and clinch work, but it’s doubtful that he’ll find as much success in these areas against someone of Narkun’s skill level.

Narkun is a complete fighter in an organization that features plenty of top talent on its roster. He’s sharpened that skill set while fighting some truly tough opponents, but he’s found a special level of success when fighting for and defending the light-heavyweight strap. None of his light-heavyweight title bouts has seen the second round. If Erslan was to win here, it would be considered a huge upset. Narkun is likely to continue his run of quick finishes with yet another submission victory.

Other key bouts: Michał Materla (29-7) vs. Roberto Soldić (17-3), Karolina Owczarz (3-0) vs. Justyna Haba (2-1), Andrzej Grzebyk (17-3) vs. Marius Žaromskis (22-9), Mateusz Legierski (6-0) vs. Francisco Barrio (7-1), Daniel Torres (10-4) vs. Max Coga (22-6-1), Robert Ruchała (3-0) vs. Michał Domin (3-1), Filip Pejić (14-4-2) vs. Sebastian Rajewski (9-5)

The Best of the Rest

Brave Combat Federation 45: Abdisalam Kubanychbek (15-3) vs. Valeriu Mircea (25-6-1) Watch Event: bravecftv.com

Norte FC 1: Bruno Lobato (39-23-2) vs. Joeres Santos (5-0) for the 165-pound title

Terral Fight 8: Keismilyn Shayene (1-0) vs. Silvania Monteiro (8-3) Watch Event: YouTube

Standout Fighting Tournament 24: Leonardo Silva (16-4) vs. Cássio de Oliveira (19-9-1) Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press

Last Week’s Scorecard
Fight Prediction Outcome
Cleiton “Predator” Silva vs. Amin Ayoub at Brave CF 44 Predator by decision Ayoub by knockout
Gian Siqueira vs. Stefan Negucić at SBC 29 Siqueira by submission Fight canceled
Sergei Kharitonov vs. Oli Thompson at Parus FC Kharitonov by knockout Kharitonov by knockout

In Hindsight: Predator was well on his way to matching the forecast of a decision victory after controlling Ayoub on the mat in the early rounds of their match. However, in the fourth frame, Ayoub rendered the champion unconscious to claim the win and the title…The Serbian Battle Championship 29 fight between Siqueira and Negucić was scrapped….Thompson couldn’t get Kharitonov down and instead ended up fighting a kickboxing match with a skilled kickboxer. That led to the predicted knockout for Kharitonov, who landed a punch in the first round that sent Thompson crashing face first to the canvas…“Best of the Rest” selection Anas Siraj Mounir picked up a win. Meanwhile, Adli Edwards and José Mauro Delano notched decision victories, and A.J. Dobson scored a first-round knockout of Kailan Hill.