Every week, Combat Press takes a look at three regional, developmental and international MMA 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…
Cristian Quiñónez (14-3) vs. Dony Matos (20-7)
Mexico’s Ultimate Warrior Challenge organization returns for its 25th effort on Friday. The company’s show will air on UFC Fight Pass, which provides an excellent chance for bantamweight Cristian Quiñónez to make his audition for the UFC. Quiñónez will vie for the 135-pound belt against 27-fight veteran Dony Matos.
Quiñónez has already put together a strong resume of 14 wins across 17 appearances. The 24-year-old made his professional debut in 2013 at age 17. He won his first three fights before running into trouble against Jose Guadalupe Ruelas Soto and succumbing to punches in the third round of their 2014 affair. “El Taylon” responded with six straight wins, including one under the Brave Combat Federation banner. However, he was again stopped by punches in his sophomore outing with Brave CF. Quiñónez rebounded with another trio of wins. The third of these victories came against the previously undefeated Vinicius de Oliveira in Quiñónez’s Combate Americas debut. His hot streak was again brought to a halt in his second Combate contest when he was submitted by Victor Hugo Madrigal. He has since tacked on two more victories, including a November stoppage of Erick Ruano that led to this title opportunity.
Matos hails from Brazil, where he began his MMA career on the regional circuit in 2012. “Terrier” also won his first three bouts before tasting defeat. Unlike Quiñónez, though, the 33-year-old then went on a roller-coaster ride from 2013-18 in which his longest winning streak was just four fights. He found his groove in 2018, however, and now enjoys a six-fight winning streak. He’s a finisher who has seven knockouts and 10 submissions on his resume.
Quiñónez is a lanky 5-foot-9 bantamweight, but he doesn’t use his range very well on the feet. He also leaves his hands low, which leaves his chin exposed. He was fortunate to get a TKO stoppage due to a cut against the aforementioned de Oliveira, who was lighting him up prior to the doctor’s intervention. Quiñónez prefers to close the distance and get the takedown. He does well in top position, but he can sometimes get sloppy and allow his opponent to escape or reverse out of a bad spot. It’s surprising that the young Mexican prospect has 11 finishes among his wins, as he tends to be a grinder when he does get the takedown.
The bad news for Quiñónez is that Matos packs plenty of power. He knocked out Federico Betancourt in a recent fight and has flashed his power on multiple occasions. “Terrier” is also capable on the mat, where he’s picked up the majority of his finishes. The Brazilian’s biggest issue, of course, has been consistency. He’s been submitted four times and knocked out twice.
Matos has a lot of ways to beat Quiñónez. His power could be key if the fight stays standing. Quiñónez is just too easy to hit, and the Brazilian just needs one punch to turn out the lights on an opponent. Meanwhile, Quiñónez will also have to worry about his foe’s grappling abilities if he opts to make this a ground fight. While Quiñónez has found plenty of success throughout his career, his losses haven’t even come against top-tier prospects. Matos could be the latest fighter to expose the holes in the Mexican upstart’s game. “Terrier” will demonstrate his power once again and secure the knockout here.
Other key bouts: Victor de Paula (4-1) vs. Jesus Navarrete (6-0), Silvana Gómez Juárez (8-2) vs. Gilsely Perea (4-6), Gabriel Valdez (5-1) vs. Sóslenis Carvalho (10-11), Maria Jose Favela (2-0) vs. Sandra Chimeyo (1-1), Mark Climaco (3-0) vs. Rafael Nuñes (1-0), Fabrizio Escarrega (1-0) vs. Carlos Paita (2-2)
Jason South (13-2) vs. Hayward Charles (17-13)
After a postponement in November, Fierce Fighting Championship is finally set to hold its latest event, a tribute show to the late Will Farrar of Showdown Fights. The headliner is a lightweight championship affair that pits Bobby King against UFC castoff Steven Siler. Meanwhile, Jason South, a middleweight who will be tested by veteran Hayward Charles, makes his return to MMA action after a lengthy hiatus.
South has not graced the cage in nearly half a decade. “The Mover” debuted in 2008 and won his first eight contests, culminating with a victory over Tim Ruberg with the aforementioned Showdown Fights organization. This led to a spot on season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, but South was put away in under two minutes via strikes by Mike Ricci. He returned to Showdown Fights, where he notched stoppages of Kyacey Uscola and Phil Dace. His next two fights ended in disappointment. First, he was knocked out by Sam Alvey in the fifth round of a Maximum Fighting Championship title tilt. Then, Gilbert Smith decisioned him in a welterweight affair. South returned to Utah and won his next three fights, all at welterweight. Now, he returns at age 43.
Charles, 31, has 30 fights under his belt. He started his pro career in 2011 with a loss and has struggled to stay above the .500 mark in the decade that’s followed. He put together a six-fight winning streak from 2012-13, which elevated him to a 9-4 mark, but this was the height of his campaign. His streak came to an end with a loss to Roger Narvaez, and his subsequent best run consists of just four wins. Meanwhile, he’s also endured three- and four-fight skids. “The Hybrid” has suffered losses to Ian Heinisch, Derrick Krantz (twice), Kevin Holland, Evan Cutts and Adam Stroup. The most notable name in his win column is Bubba McDaniel.
South hung up the gloves when he was in his late 30s. He was a solid prospect, but one who came into the game in his late 20s and missed out on his biggest opportunity when he lost to Ricci on the UFC’s reality show. The Unified Jiu-Jitsu product won his last three fights, but the final victory in that trio came just shy of five years ago. To his credit, every one of South’s losses came against a fighter who has seen the inside of the Octagon. He has also continued to train since his retirement.
Charles has an extremely pedestrian resume, and he makes the perfect fight for South’s return. If South is anywhere near his previous form, this is a winnable fight for him. He’s beaten better fighters than Charles in the past, and he made a routine out of feeding on mediocre competition. However, South’s now in his 40s and has been on the sidelines for quite a long time. If he’s rusty or out of shape, Charles could take him.
South is good in the clinch and can take a lot of punishment before he drops. He’s an effective grappler as well, but Charles is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and has won 15 fights by submission while only suffering one submission loss. South does train out of a pure jiu-jitsu gym, though, and should be well equipped to deal with the ground game of Charles, who will often pull guard just to get the action to the canvas. As long as South doesn’t get careless and provide Charles with an opportunity to tap him, the older fighter should still have the skills to get the better of his opponent via clinch work and ground-and-pound over three rounds to earn a decision win.
Other key bouts: Bobby King (8-3) vs. Steven Siler (32-20-1) for the lightweight title, Chrisoula Koukouvetakis (1-1) vs. Brittany Guillemin (0-0), Mitch Ramirez (2-0) vs. Trever Bradshaw (4-5)
Marcos Breno (12-2) vs. Leandro da Silva (7-0)
The latest addition to Brazil’s network of regional organizations is CDL Fight. The company’s first show includes an intriguing battle of bantamweight up-and-comers. Marcos Breno, a 14-fight veteran, will attempt to become the first man to hand Leandro da Silva a loss.
The 23-year-old Breno is the second fighter in this week’s preview to have debuted at the tender age of 17. He turned pro in 2015 and won his first five fights. After a loss to sub-.500 foe Gerson Carvalho in 2016, the Capital da Luta product turned around and won his next seven fights. He was set to meet UFC veteran Bryan Caraway at Ares FC 1 in late 2019, but ultimately ended up in action against a different UFC castoff in the form of Taylor Lapilus. Breno fell to Lapilus on the judges’ scorecards for only his second career setback. He has tallied six knockouts and five submissions, with only the Lapilus fight going the distance.
Da Silva is one year younger than his upcoming opponent. However, “V3” waited until he was 19 to make his pro debut in 2018. The Roxo Strike Team export has stormed through seven victims thus far, recording five submissions along the way. Both he and Breno have not seen action since late 2019. Da Silva is making his return to bantamweight after competing at 125 pounds in his last two appearances.
While Breno did suffer a loss to Lapilus, it was a huge step up in competition for the young fighter after a long line of regional opponents. Breno is still very young, and he already looks like a well-rounded fighter. He has a crisp and powerful striking arsenal that can quickly overwhelm an opponent. Once he senses that he has his foe reeling, he’ll add in devastating knee strikes to help seal the deal. He can also get the job done on the mat, where he attacks with a rear-naked choke.
Da Silva has yet to taste defeat. He has a strong submission game that has led to a pair of rear-naked chokes, an armbar and a triangle choke. “V3” has seen varying levels of competition, with his last outing coming against an 0-1 opponent.
Breno, while not perfect, has at least tested himself against a UFC veteran and lasted to the final bell. Da Silva still has a lot to prove, but his submission game will be an asset against his more experienced adversary. Breno did suffer a submission loss to an opponent who sported a losing record, and da Silva could duplicate this outcome on Sunday.
Other key bouts: Evertom Freitas (13-4) vs. Rhalber Bernardo (6-4), Mario Araujo (3-0) vs. Fábio Perpetua (2-1), Bruno Teixeira (2-0) vs. Rômulo Oliveira (2-4), Gustavo Henrique (1-0) vs. Icaro Brito (1-1)
The Best of the Rest
Hard Rock MMA 118: Adam Assenza (12-6) vs. Sean Connor Fallon (13-6) Watch Event:B2MMA
Naiza Fighting Championship 29: Dar: Zhuman Zhumabekov (10-4) vs. Vadim Malygin (15-6-1) for the bantamweight title Watch Event:YouTube
World Ertaymash Federation 98: ProfFight 41: Sanzhar Azhibaev (16-6) vs. Rinat Sayakbaev (13-7-1)
German MMA Championship Fight Night: Michael Johann Rirsch (9-3-1) vs. Mert Özyildirim (8-1) Watch Event:YouTube
Last Week’s Scorecard
Victor Altamirano vs. Nate Smith at LFA 100
Smith by submission
Altamirano by decision
Ade Permana vs. Imam Solikhin at One Pride MMA Fight Night 42
Permana by submission
Permana by knockout
Mateusz Rębecki vs. Jose Barrios at FEN 32
Rębecki by knockout
Rębecki by knockout
The LFA 100 headliner unfolded largely as predicted, with one major exception: the outcome. Altamirano used his range and kicking game to frustrate Smith. Smith, who missed weight and was ineligible for the title as a result, scored takedowns throughout the bout, but Altamirano did a solid job of neutralizing Smith’s top game and preventing the Elevation Fight Team product from scoring points or finding the submission. The Mexican prospect emerged with the decision nod…Permana big-brothered Solikhin for much of their fight. While he did attempt a submission, he found far more success with a high mount from which he rained down ground-and-pound strikes. The fight likely should have ended from these barrages in round two, but the referee allowed it to continue well into the third frame before he had seen enough…Rębecki did score the predicted knockout, but it wasn’t the result of ground-and-pound. Instead, it was a big left hand that floored his opponent early in the first round…”Best of the Rest” selections Sharaf Davlatmurodov and Yakov Ekimov notched decision victories, while Yuki Motoya secured a submission win.
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