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…
Łukasz Sudolski (8-0) vs. Joachim Christensen (15-8)
Babilon MMA returns on Friday with its 20th effort. The rising Polish company has several undefeated prospects on the docket. The one that faces the biggest test is light heavyweight Łukasz Sudolski. Sudolski vies for the vacant light-heavyweight championship against UFC veteran Joachim Christensen.
Sudolski, who debuted in 2013 but didn’t make his sophomore appearance until the second half of 2018, is a Babilon MMA mainstay. He’s won all seven of his fights since returning from the extended layoff, and all but one of those wins came via finish. “Pcheła” is a quick finisher, as evidenced by his two most recent appearances in which he stopped his foes in a combined 82 seconds. This has been a common trend for the Berserker’s Team product, who has five first-round finishes. Thus far, however, he has fought inexperienced and mediocre competition.
Christensen, with 23 career bouts and a 15-8 mark, is by far the most experienced and successful fighter that Sudolski has seen up to this point. However, the Dane is 42 years old and has just one win in his last five fights. In addition, he has not competed since late 2019. Christensen, who debuted in 2007, went 13-3 while posting a number of notable wins before he signed with the UFC. Inside the Octagon, he struggled across four fights and logged just one win, which came against Bojan Mihajlović. His UFC losses were all stoppages, handed out to him by the trio of Luis Henrique da Silva, Gadzhimurad Antigulov and Dominick Reyes. The tough times continued for him after his UFC departure, with additional stoppage losses to Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov and Stephan Puetz, whom he had handily beaten five years prior. The UFC vet eked out a majority decision for a win over Miloš Petrášek before going inactive for over a year.
This is an opportunity for Sudolski to add a very big name to a resume that’s lacking in that department. His unblemished record has come as the result of a weak strength of schedule. His toughest foes thus far have been Mateusz Ostrowski, who entered their scrap at 8-8-1, and the 9-10 Michał Gutowski, whom Sudolski dispatched in under two and a half minutes. Christensen is a far superior fighter to anyone Sudolski has encountered so far, but he’s also an aging veteran well past his prime.
Christensen peaked in 2016 following a stretch in which he decisioned the aforementioned Puetz, squeaked past Max Nunes, starched Jonas Billstein, and submitted Anthony Ruiz. This streak caught the UFC’s attention, but the Dane couldn’t keep it rolling once he entered the Octagon. He nosedived to the tune of a 2-5 mark over his last seven fights, including his 1-3 stint with the UFC.
Christensen is a well-rounded fighter who has tallied five knockouts and five submissions. His wealth of experience could come in handy here against a young gun whose record is arguably a bit padded. The Dane is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who also has a strong stand-up arsenal, but he’s also been finished five times in his career.
Sudolski certainly needs tougher tests. He has power in his hands, plus an excellent grappling game. This is a great incremental step up for him. He has a height and reach advantage over Christensen, and his quick starts could be a problem for the UFC vet. Don’t blink during this one, as it could be over in mere seconds. Sudolski should get the knockout.
Other key bouts: Krzysztof Gutowski (8-0) vs. Dawid Śmiełowski (7-0), Sylwester Kołecki (1-0) vs. Adnan Alić (13-23), Marcin Skrzek (6-1) vs. Rene Runge (9-4-1), Dawid Romański (3-0) vs. Dawid Pasternak (8-5)
Kyle Noblitt (11-2) vs. Shaun Asher (13-3-1)
Titan Fighting Championship heads to Miami on Friday for a bill topped by two title fights. The headliner takes us to the heavyweight division, where Kyle Noblitt and Shaun Asher clash for the vacant crown.
Noblitt went 7-1 as an amateur before finally turning pro in 2015. The Sanford MMA fighter was an all-state wrestler during his high school years, but he does have a troubled past. He is a registered sex offender in the state of Missouri due to sexual-assault charges that he has since claimed are blown out of proportion. Noblitt streaked out to a 9-0 start as a pro. His most notable outings in this stretch came in his second pro fight, which was on the preliminary card of Bellator 150 and ended in just 45 seconds by way of a technical knockout, and a headlining gig at Legacy Fighting Alliance 21 in which he submitted Antônio Paulo Branjão. His undefeated run came to an end with a rough 2018 in which he faltered twice on the scorecards. He has since rebounded with two victories, including a split nod over Jack May in late January.
Asher sports a healthy 13-3-1 record in nearly a decade of action, but he’s 41 years old and has not fought since 2019. “The Bully” had his own early undefeated streak, which topped out at 5-0-1 and led to an appearance with Bellator MMA where he was submitted in 92 seconds by Jason Butcher for his first pro loss. Asher put together another five-fight winning streak before running into future UFCer Misha Cirkunov, who submitted Asher in just 80 seconds. Two fights later, Asher suffered his third and most recent setback courtesy of another up-and-comer, Jordan Johnson, under the Resurrection Fighting Alliance banner. He has gone on to add two more victories to his record.
Much like the Babilon bout between Sudolski and Christensen, this contest seems to tilt heavily in one fighter’s favor against an aging opponent who never achieved much success at the highest levels. Asher is that elder fighter in this pairing. He’s certainly challenged himself with fights against Butcher, Cirkunov and Johnson, but he failed in each of those contests. The Butcher affair came at middleweight, but Asher has mostly bounced between the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. His most notable victory came in a 2012 appearance against Doug Sparks, who was 7-1 at the time. Asher has otherwise collected most of his wins against fighters with losing records or inexperienced foes.
Noblitt could possibly have glimpsed the inside of the Octagon had it not been for his criminal charges. Of course, his struggles in 2018 are a sign that he might not have fared too well with the UFC. Still, he’s a strong wrestler who has recorded six submissions and two knockouts in his career. While he’s no Cirkunov or Johnson, he should still prove to be a lot for Asher to handle.
Noblitt will enjoy the height and reach advantages here. Asher can be taken down rather easily, which works to Noblitt’s favor. In addition, Asher has a habit of shooting for takedowns that put him in trouble. However, Noblitt, once a dependable finisher, has seemingly lost that killer instinct. Both of his losses went the distance, and his rebound victories have also seen the scorecards. The 31-year-old southpaw might finally put it all back together here, though, and find a tapout against Asher.
Other key bouts: Wascar Cruz (11-6) vs. Victor Dias (8-2) for the flyweight title, Ryan Kuse (2-0) vs. Damian Attie (1-0), Markus Perez (12-5) vs. Shane O’Shea (4-1), Gustavo Villamil (3-0) vs. Jason Eastman (5-3), Jaret Betancourt (1-0) vs. Keaneo Moyer (1-1), David Evans (1-0) vs. Jason Cortez (2-3)
Spike Carlyle (9-3) vs. Batsumberel Dagvadorj (7-1)
Legacy Fighting Alliance continues to chug along with its 103rd show. The promotion, which has taken up residence in Shawnee, Okla., for its latest series of events, brings in recent UFC castoff Spike Carlyle. “The Alpha Ginger” seeks redemption after dropping his last two UFC appearances, and he’ll have a chance at it in the evening’s lightweight headliner opposite Batsumberel Dagvadorj.
Carlyle, who had mixed results in an 11-fight amateur run, went 8-1 as a pro before he was scooped up by the UFC. The 27-year-old made his Octagon debut in early 2020 with a first-round smashing of Aalon Cruz. His fortunes took a turn in his next appearance, where he dropped a decision to Billy Quarantillo. In November, he endured another decision loss, this time at the hands of Bill Algeo. Carlyle, who has been competing as a pro since 2017, was jettisoned from the company following this second stumble. This will be his first post-UFC appearance.
Dagvadorj went undefeated through seven pro appearances, beginning with his late 2014 debut. “The Mongolian Falcon” had primarily seen low-level opposition, first in his homeland and then in trips to California for URCC and Dragon House shows. The 33-year-old finally received a true test when he graced the Bellator cage for the company’s September 2019 event in San Jose, Calif. He battled the seasoned James Terry, a Strikeforce veteran and longtime Bellator fighter. The Mongolian upstart caught Terry in a bulldog choke for the submission finish in just a little over half of a round. It was the second career submission victory for Dagvadorj, who also has four knockouts to his name. After more than a year away from action, he returned to headline LFA 96 in a clash with Maycon Mendonça. Dagvadorj ultimately dropped a unanimous verdict to his Brazilian counterpart.
Dagvadorj put to rest any questions about his abilities in his Bellator and LFA appearances. He was able to rock the aforementioned and did well in the ensuing scramble, which led to the bulldog choke and a tapout from the Strikeforce veteran. He also hung in there for three rounds against Mendonça, another tough foe. The Mongolian up-and-comer is a strong wrestler with plenty of power in his hands. He’s not especially known for his submission game, but the finish of Terry is a sign that he’s a dual threat.
Carlyle is a very aggressive and relentless fighter. He prefers to secure takedowns and then pound away on his opponent with strikes. “The Alpha Ginger” will also attack with submissions. While the verdict in the Quarantillo fight reads as unanimous for his opponent, it was a very close fight in which Quarantillo surged back in round three after losing the first frame and narrowly edging Carlyle in the second stanza. An argument could certainly be made that it was Carlyle who took the second round. Carlyle also came close on a bulldog choke against Algeo in the first round. He’s a competitive fighter who could just as easily be 3-0 in the UFC had the judges favored him in the second round against Quarantillo and had Algeo tapped to that choke. The problem for Carlyle is that, as Quarantillo’s camp suggested, he is a first-round fighter. The southpaw fades with each passing round, which was evident in both of his UFC losses.
This fight provides an interesting look at both competitors. Carlyle has bounced between featherweight and lightweight for most of his career, but his UFC stint came at featherweight and a 150-pound catchweight. Now, he’ll look to right the ship at 155 pounds. Meanwhile, Dagvadorj has only known the welterweight division until now. He’ll test the waters at lightweight and look to rebound from the loss to Mendonça. Carlyle was a big featherweight, but he could end up outsized by the Mongolian prospect.
Dagvadorj is a tough fighter, but Carlyle is a borderline UFC talent. While he does need to work on managing his energy in fights and building a better gas tank, his quick starts and persistent wrestling are two attributes that make him a tough match-up for anyone. Nobody has breezed through Carlyle, even at the UFC level, and Dagvadorj won’t have an easy time either. The key for the Mongolian will be to drag Carlyle into deep water. Unfortunately for Dagvadorj, he might not be able to weather the early storm and get it there. Carlyle is likely to find an early finish via a choke after softening up Dagvadorj with some ground-and-pound barrages.
Other key bouts: Vanessa Demopoulos (5-3) vs. Cynthia Arceo (5-2-1), Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady (10-3) vs. Jake Sebastian (6-2), Fernie Garcia (8-1) vs. Isaiah Batin-Gonzalez (4-1), Juancamilo Ronderos (4-0) vs. Rodney Kealohi (5-1), Josh Quinlan (4-0) vs. Dallas Jennings (3-1)
The Best of the Rest
Brave Combat Federation 49: Jose “Shorty” Torres (9-1-1) vs. Blaine O’Driscoll (9-3) Watch Event: Fite TV free stream via Combat Press
Nação Cyborg 8: Luiz Cado (14-7-1) vs. Carlos Leal (12-3) for the welterweight title
Oktagon 22: Javid Basharat (10-0) vs. Luca Iovine (16-6) Watch Event: pay-per-view stream on oktagon.tv
Caged Aggression 30: Triple Threat Day 3: Kenny Robertson (15-5) vs. Dante Schiro (7-2) for the welterweight title Watch Event: pay-per-view stream on cagedaggression.tv
Last Week’s Scorecard
Abdurakhman Alimagomedov vs. Samandar Murodov at Eagle FC 34
Alimagomedov by submission
Murodov by decision
Jack Cartwright vs. Sylwester Miller at Cage Warriors 121
Cartwright by knockout
Cartwright by disqualification
Antun Račić vs. Sebastian Przybysz at KSW 59
Račić by decision
Przybysz by decision
Unlike Alimagomedov’s previous opponents, Murodov defended well against takedown attempts and even took Alimagomedov’s back on a couple of occasions. While Murodov couldn’t find a finish, he did more than enough to nullify Alimagomedov’s offense en route to a decision…Miller gave Cartwright a surprisingly tough fight, but all that effort was erased when he was disqualified for repeated headbutts. The fouls were due to Miller’s style of ground-and-pound, in which his head came down at the same time as his attempted punches and elbow strikes. Miller was given repeated warnings and deducted two points, but he still failed to avoid further infractions…Račić admitted to largely abandoning his typical grinding style to meet Przybysz on the challenger’s terms. It didn’t work out well for Račić, who was outpointed in a war where he dropped Przybysz and Przybysz scored the takedowns. Ultimately, Przybysz’s use of reach in the early rounds and takedowns in the fifth frame were enough to carry him to the decision win…”Best of the Rest” selection Bruno Souza eked out a split-decision win in his LFA 102 appearance, while Ryo Okada notched a unanimous-decision victory under the Shooto banner. Additional selections Vinicius de Oliveira and Jordan Vucenic walked away with titles in their respective regional fights.
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