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…
Karlos Vémola (29-6) vs. Alex Lohoré (19-5)
The weeks around Christmas tend to be quiet for the MMA world, outside of the traditional New Year’s Eve cards in Japan. This means there’s only one significant event to look at in the final week of 2020. That show is the 20th edition of the Czech Republic’s Oktagon series. The headliner is a middleweight title tilt that pits UFC castoff Karlos Vémola against former BAMMA and Cage Warriors regular Alex Lohoré.
Vémola is the local favorite, though he has spent time training in England with the London Shootfighters team. “The Terminator” has been competing professionally since 2008. He kicked off his career with seven straight wins to garner the attention of the UFC brass. Vémola made his Octagon debut in 2010 at UFC 116, where he competed as a small heavyweight and suffered a loss to Jon Madsen. His next two UFC outings came at light heavyweight and resulted in a win over Seth Petruzelli and a loss to Ronny Markes. He finally shifted his focus to middleweight in 2012, but he could only manage a win over Mike Massenzio within the division inside the UFC. Following subsequent setbacks to Francis Carmont and Caio Magalhães, Vémola was sent packing. The 35-year-old has since rattled off 20 victories through 22 fights, with his only losses coming courtesy of current UFC middleweight contender Jack Hermansson and former Bellator light-heavyweight kingpin Attila Vegh. Despite his tendency to sometimes charge out of the gates like an angry bull, Vémola has a surprising number of submission victories (15) to accompany eight knockouts.
The 31-year-old Lohoré has been a pro since 2014. He went 10-1 through his first 11 fights, which was good enough to earn him a spot on Bellator’s British shows. At Bellator 173, “Da Killa Kid” submitted UFC veteran Colin Fletcher. In his sophomore outing for Bellator, the Brit opted to use his fists to stop Dan Vinni. Lohoré’s next stop was BAMMA, where he won the welterweight belt and defended it once before dropping it in a split decision to Terry Brazier. After a loss in his next BAMMA appearance against Ion Pascu, Lohoré moved on once more. After one bout with the Cage organization, he landed in Cage Warriors, where he went 3-2 and unsuccessfully challenged for the welterweight strap. His losses came to future UFCer Nicolas Dalby in the aforementioned title affair and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 alum Joilton Santos. Lohoré, who had little trouble making welterweight, only moved to middleweight in early 2020 for a fight against Anderson Gonçalves. He found success with a third-round submission of the Professional Fighters League veteran. The Brit has been a balanced finisher thus far, with nine knockouts and seven submissions.
Between his aggressive approach and failure to find a suitable weight class, Vémola struggled in his time with the UFC. Outside of the big show, however, he’s been a true force. He can’t be faulted for the loss to Hermansson, a top-tier talent who has beaten the likes of Kelvin Gastelum and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza inside the Octagon. His stumble against Vegh is a glaring blemish, but Vémola had trouble with Vegh’s range and never got to implement his typical game plan before he was clipped by a huge punch that sent him crashing to the mat. When he’s not tasked with a longer, faster foe, Vémola can shine. His explosiveness translates into big takedowns, but it also overshadows his skill as a grappler. He transitions well and punishes his opponent with ground-and-pound that can either lead to a TKO finish or set up an eventual opening for a submission, as it did in his recent appearances against Thomas Robertsen and Václav Mikulášek.
Of course, Lohoré is a step up from the likes of Robertsen and Mikulášek. He has excellent takedown defense, but he’s never encountered a wrestler with Vémola’s power. He’s also not a very imposing striker. He rattled Gonçalves on a couple of occasions in their scrap and followed up with numerous punches that still couldn’t put away the Brazilian. Yet, he’s still been able to score plenty of knockouts, so Vémola does have to be careful, especially when it comes to counters as he barrels forward in an attempt to take down Lohoré.
Lohoré is also an underrated grappler who could give Vémola problems on the canvas. However, Vémola’s top control is going to give Lohoré a ton of trouble too. If the UFC vet is able to consistently take down Lohoré, then it’s going to be a long night for the Brit. Lohoré needs to take notes from the Vegh fight. He can win this one if he maintains his distance and counters the former heavyweight. It’ll be tough, though. Lohoré tends to stay static, flat-footed and upright, which should make for an easy target for Vémola’s powerful takedowns. Lohoré doesn’t quite have the scrambling abilities either to overcome the suffocating top control that Vémola can maintain.
Size and strength should play into the outcome of this contest. Lohoré is only one fight into his middleweight campaign, and his power has thus far not translated well to his new weight class. He can still clip opponents, but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to score the knockout as easily as he did at 170 pounds. Vémola is a potentially brutal pairing for Lohoré. The UFC veteran will wear down his counterpart before finding a choke for the submission finish.
Other key bouts: Viktor Pešta (15-6) vs. Ildemar Alcântara (26-15), David Hošek (4-1-1) vs. Milan Ďatelinka (7-4), Miroslav Brož (10-2) vs. Jan Malach (12-10), Roman Paulus (2-0) vs. Tomáš Zajac (2-7), Václav Holota (4-0) vs. Christian Jungwirth (8-2), Magdaléna Šormová (10-2) vs. Ewelina Woźniak (3-0), Oumar Sy (3-0) vs. Daniel Škvor (0-0), Daniel Hromek (2-0) vs. Jan Fajk (1-0)
Last Week’s Scorecard
Vyacheslav Vasilevskiy vs. Bogdan Guskov at FNG Winter Cup
Guskov by knockout
Vasilevskiy by knockout
Mukhamed Eminov vs. Akhmed Balkizov at FNG 99
Eminov by decision
Eminov by split decision
Sharaf Davlatmurodov vs. Quemuel Ottoni at OFC 1
Davlatmurodov by submission
Guskov has always been at his best when he can counter his opponent, which is why the prediction was for a knockout finish over Vasilevskiy. However, it was Vasilevskiy who employed a more technical approach and threw the better counters. He rocked Guskov in the first frame and then floored him with a right hand for a knockout finish of his own…As expected, the fight between Eminov and Balkizov ended in a close decision. However, the split verdict was perhaps a bit too narrow of an outcome in a fight where Eminov, despite being bloodied in the final frame, controlled much of the action with takedowns and work from the top position…Davlatmurodov’s fight with Ottoni was scrapped from the OFC 1 card…“Best of the Rest” selection Asu Almabaev scored a stoppage victory.
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