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…
Josh Fremd (6-1) vs. Bruno Oliveira (8-2)
After a one-week break, the Legacy Fighting Alliance returns with its 98th offering. The lineup is flush with prospects, including headlining middleweights Josh Fremd and Bruno Oliveira.
The 27-year-old Fremd followed up a lengthy — and mostly successful — amateur run by turning pro in 2017 and scoring victories in his first two appearances. After a Bellator win over Ryan Parker in his sophomore outing, Fremd stumbled under the Pinnacle FC banner in a decision loss to Robert Gidron. The American has been perfect ever since, though. He added a submission victory over Andre Hall and a split nod against Travis Davis to close out his 2018 campaign. After more than a year and a half away from action, the Factory X Muay Thai disciple returned in 2020 with the LFA. In his promotional debut, he disposed of Lamar Gosey via strikes in just 86 seconds. His encore performance was another first-round TKO, this time of Antonio Jones at LFA 93. Fremd is a proven finisher with both his fists and his grappling skills.
Brazil’s Oliveira is already 36 years old, but he has only 10 pro fights on his resume since his 2011 debut. The knockout artist made just five appearances across his first four years in the sport, but he had his hand raised after each of those efforts. Oliveira finally tasted defeat in a 2016 scrap against Huinderton Barbosa, who found an armbar for the submission finish. The Corinthians MMA export rebounded with two wins across 2016-17 before going inactive for a year and a half. He re-emerged with Titan Fighting Championship in 2019 and scored a 53-second TKO finish of future UFCer Jared Gooden. This landed Oliveira on Dana White’s Contender Series, but the Brazilian was clocked by a left hook from Carlos Ulberg and suffered a knockout loss.
The 6-foot-4 Fremd is a strong fighter in the clinch. He can bully his opponent and land vicious knees, such as the ones that floored Gosey. Fremd also carries plenty of power in his hands, as evidenced in his finish of Jones. He was a slow starter earlier in his pro career, but the swiftness of his LFA finishes suggest that he’s overcome this issue.
Fremd won’t be overwhelmed by an aggressive grappler, and he scrambles well. However, the key to securing a win over the Pennsylvania native seems to be a combination of a strong top game and solid submission defense. The aforementioned Gidron was able to take the decision over Fremd by fending off the Factory X rep’s active bottom game and maintaining control for a majority of the time that the pair fought on the ground.
Oliveira doesn’t have an imposing grappling approach. Instead, he shares a lot of qualities with Fremd. He’s an especially tall middleweight who matches his American rival in height and exceeds him by four inches in reach. Oliveira has proven far easier to finish at the pro level too, with one submission defeat and the knockout from Ulberg. The Brazilian prefers to fight at range, but he lunges forward to throw wild punches. This style was exposed by Ulberg and could be again by Fremd. The Colorado-based fighter could also choose to take down Oliveira and test his ground game. Either avenue should favor Fremd, though the latter also allows him to avoid Oliveira’s power.
Other key bouts: JJ Okanovich (7-1) vs. Lucas Clay (6-1), Richard Palencia (7-0) vs. Jeimeson Saudino (9-6), Joshua DaSilveira (3-0) vs. Matt Paul (3-2), Zac Pauga (1-0) vs. Ashby Thomas (1-0), Austin Clem (4-1) vs. Dakota Bush (7-2), Tabatha Ricci (3-0) vs. Vanessa Marie Grimes (1-5)
Shamil Musaev (14-0) vs. Uroš Jurišič (11-0)
The card for KSW 58 isn’t nearly as stacked as some of the Polish organization’s other recent efforts, but there are a handful of undefeated up-and-comers in the lineup. This includes welterweights Shamil Musaev and Uroš Jurišič.
Musaev’s win tally could be even higher than 14 fights, but numerous fighter databases have a sketchy history for him between 2013-16. The addition of his “amateur” fights gives him an overall 18-1 mark. Regardless, “The Silent Assassin” has had quite an impressive run over the last seven years. He recorded a victory over Sharaf Davlatmurodov in 2015, and he’s posted two first-round finishes since joining KSW in 2019. The 27-year-old Russian missed out on a huge opportunity to fight Mateusz Gamrot in 2020 when he sustained an injury and had to withdraw from the fight. Now, he has another big spot lined up opposite fellow undefeated upstart Jurišič.
The Slovenian fighter Jurišič has a more straightforward record of 11 victories since making his debut in 2012. After posting five wins, he appeared on season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter, where he dropped a decision to Luiz Firmino. The 28-year-old rebounded with a regional victory over Vaso Bakočević before joining Titan FC. Jurišič claimed three wins and the welterweight strap with the organization, but he never defended the belt. Instead, he made a regional appearance five months later and then spent 2019 and much of 2020 on the sidelines. The American Top Team fighter returned in October with Bellator, where he needed just over three minutes to submit Walter Gahadza. Jurišič is an equal-opportunity finisher who has notched five wins by knockout and five victories via submission.
Musaev is an extremely well-rounded fighter. His striking arsenal includes spinning attacks, highlighted by a spinning back fist that led to his most recent KSW win over Grzegorz Szulakowski. He also throws a beautiful spinning kick to the body, and his resume also features a head-kick knockout. He’s a strong wrestler, too. Once he gets a fight to the mat, he has suffocating top control. He’s fond of the crucifix position in particular and can use it to either finish his foe with strikes or set them up for a submission.
Jurišič has a great all-around game as well. He can stand and bang, but he has a wrestling base to fall back on. On the ground, he’s more wild than Musaev. Jurišič will punish opponents with ground-and-pound flurries, but he will go for the submission off of the openings created by these strikes. On the feet, he packs plenty of power, which was on display in a recent fight against Shota Gvasalia.
Jurišič’s takedown defense could be the deciding factor in the outcome of this affair. On TUF, Firmino was able to repeatedly ground the ATT fighter and implement his game plan. Musaev can follow this blueprint to victory if Jurišič is unable to stuff the Russian’s emphatic takedowns. Musaev is such a dangerous striker, though, that Jurišič will have his hands full no matter where this bout is contested. Ultimately, Musaev will exploit Jurišič’s weaknesses and score the TKO stoppage.
Other key bouts: Szymon Kołecki (8-1) vs. Martin Zawada (29-15-1), Salahdine Parnasse (14-0-1) vs. Daniel Torres (11-4) for the featherweight title, Robert Ruchała (4-0) vs. Daniel Bažant (4-1), Dawid Martynik (4-1) vs. Paweł Polityło (5-2), Aleksandar Rakas (16-7) vs. Michał Michalski (8-4), Michał Andryszak (21-9) vs. Guto Inocente (8-5)
XMMA: The Future of Fighting
Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Event Date: Jan. 30 Website:xmma.com/ Watch Event: free stream on xmma.com/
Chris Curtis (22-8) vs. Kyle Stewart (13-3)
XMMA has a surprisingly strong lineup set for its weekend show. The headliner features former UFC lightweight contender James Vick against Andre Fialho, and familiar names like Kyle Bochniak, Jack May and Marcelo Golm also appear on the docket. The most intriguing pairing, though, pits Chris Curtis against Kyle Stewart in a middleweight contest.
The 33-year-old Curtis has had a frustrating couple of years. After an impressive showing against the aforementioned Fialho under the Professional Fighters League banner, he dropped his next three fights with the company. He only managed one appearance — a regional win — in 2020, with a Bellator outing getting scrapped when Curtis tested positive for COVID-19. The skilled boxer has nine knockouts and three submissions on his resume, but he does tend to see the scorecards on a regular basis. The judges have awarded him 10 wins, but they’ve also doled out six losses to the Team Quest product.
Stewart has also seen better times. The Arizona Combat Sports representative debuted in 2015 and reeled off 10 straight wins. This streak included a regional nod over Estevan Payan, a successful LFA debut, a victory over Jason Jackson on the Contender Series, and subsequent wins over Jaleel Willis and Chauncey Foxworth. This led to an LFA title bid against James Nakashima, but Stewart came up short on the scorecards. He rebounded with another LFA victory and was scooped up by the UFC, but he suffered losses in his Octagon appearances opposite Chance Rencountre and Erik Koch. He was jettisoned by the organization and landed back in the regional scene, where he has since scored two more wins. “Gunz Up” has six knockouts and three submission finishes in his career.
Following his victory over Fialho, Curtis, who also notched a win in the Contender Series, looked like he could have a real shot at the 2019 PFL crown. This notion came crashing down to Earth when he lost twice to Magomed Magomedkerimov and then suffered a knockout courtesy of Ray Cooper III. While this skid looks awful, all of these losses came to either the previous season’s champion or another of the league’s biggest stars. This continues a longtime trend for Curtis, who has also suffered setbacks at the hands of Nah-shon Burrell, Belal Muhammad and Tom Gallicchio.
Curtis, a southpaw, has a crisp boxing game that was on display throughout the Fialho fight. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have an especially diverse toolbox. “The Action Man” will attack with submissions on the mat, but he’s not a huge threat in the grappling or clinch realms. Stewart is likely to oblige Curtis in a striking battle initially, but he could eventually opt to test the boxer’s clinch work and ground game. The UFC castoff is in a tough spot, though. His grappling and wrestling skills are sufficient against weaker levels of competition, but he makes plenty of mistakes on the mat. Curtis may not be known for his grappling, but he’s capable enough to cause some headaches for Stewart.
This will be an interesting fight, given that each man’s weakness isn’t exactly an area of strength for their opponent. Curtis can be controlled and outpointed if he’s tied up, but Stewart isn’t exactly an overwhelming threat in these areas. Stewart can be easily outgrappled, but that’s just not Curtis’s style. On the feet, Curtis gives up two inches in height and an inch in reach, but Stewart, who employs a karate stance, has sufficient power and could make his counterpart pay for closing the distance.
Curtis appears to have reached his ceiling during his time in the PFL. He’s a high-level gatekeeper, but his one-dimensional approach puts him at a disadvantage against fighters who can successfully negate his boxing with either the clinch or takedowns. Stewart, meanwhile, has too many vulnerabilities on the mat. However, as good as Curtis looked against Fialho, he’s had far fewer overall wins against notable competition. This one will be close, but Stewart should be able to do enough to eke out a close decision.
Other key bouts: James Vick (13-5) vs. Andre Fialho (10-4), Kyle Bochniak (8-5) vs. Caio Uruguai (7-3), Jack May (11-6) vs. Rashaun Jackson (5-3), Francisco Rivera Jr. (11-7) vs. Ryan Lilley (10-6), Brandon Hebert (4-1) vs. Marcelo Golm (7-3)
The Best of the Rest
Limo Fight Championship 22: Mabelly Lima (9-1) vs. Emilce Ortiz (3-3) for the women’s flyweight title
Oktagon 21: Leandro Silva (24-8-1) vs. Alex Lohore (19-6) Watch Event: pay-per-view stream on oktagon.tv
National Fighting Championship 129: Doug Usher (10-3) vs. Zach Edington (3-3) Watch Event:FloCombat
Shooto 2021: Keisuke Sasu (7-1-1) vs. Taison Naito (10-7-1) for the Pacific Rim featherweight title
[Ed. Note: Out of Obscurity was on hiatus last week. The results listed below are for fights previewed in the Jan. 13 edition of Out of Obscurity.]
Last Week’s Scorecard
Rinat Fakhretdinov vs. Eric Spicely at UAE Warriors 15
Spicely by submission
Fakhretdinov by knockout
Nick Browne vs. Arthur Estrázulas at LFA 97
Estrázulas by submission
Browne by decision
Roman Bogatov vs. Nurzhan Akishev at Brave CF 46
Bogatov by submission
Bogatov by decision
Spicely never even got a chance to test Fakhretdinov’s submission defense or score the predicted tapout. Instead, Fakhretdinov landed a beautiful right hand for a vicious knockout of the UFC veteran in just 55 seconds…It was indeed a seesaw battle between Browne and Estrázulas, but Estrázulas came much closer to a knockout than he did to the predicted submission. Browne managed to stay disciplined throughout the contest, though, and used his wrestling to edge Estrázulas on the scorecards…Bogatov was able to avoid numerous submission attempts from Akishev, many of which came while the Kazakh fighter was on bottom. The Russian couldn’t find the predicted submission finish, but he took the judges’ nod.
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