Elias Theodorou (Jeff Vulgamore/Combat Press)

Out of Obscurity: CFFC 93, LFA 101 and Rise FC 6

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…


Cage Fury Fighting Championships 93
2300 Arena in Philadelphia
Event Date: March 12
Website: cffc.tv
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Twitter: @CFFCMMA

Spotlight Fight:
Collin Huckbody (9-2) vs. Aaron Jeffery (9-2)

The COVID-19 era has led some organizations to adopt a new event format. Instead of spreading out dates across multiple weeks and months, these companies choose to run shows on consecutive nights. So is the case this week for Cage Fury Fighting Championships, which delivers CFFC 92 on Thursday and follows with CFFC 93 on Friday. The latter of these efforts includes a middleweight title tilt between champion Collin Huckbody and challenger Aaron Jeffery.

“Young Huck” enters on the strength of a six-fight winning streak. The 26-year-old made his pro debut in 2017 after a 6-1-1 amateur run and went just 3-2 through his first five appearances, including a decision loss to Bevon Lewis at Legacy Fighting Alliance 38. Huckbody found his groove in the second half of 2018 and kicked off his current streak with a decision nod over sub-.500 fighter Thomas Krenzel. He marched through 2019 by adding another decision victory and two submissions. This landed him an opportunity on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he tapped a third-straight opponent via arm-triangle. His next stop was Cage Fury, where he knocked out Aaron Phillips to claim the vacant belt.

Canada’s Jeffery sports an identical mark to his upcoming adversary. The 28-year-old went 8-1 as an amateur and then made his pro turn in 2014. He won his first two fights and then went the distance in a welterweight affair with current UFC rising star Sean Brady. Jeffery rebounded with another four victories to land on the Contender Series, where he was submitted by Brendan Allen. He has since added another three wins to his resume. His most recent effort was a headlining spot at LFA 93 in October in which Jeffery scored a TKO victory over the previously undefeated Andre Petroski.

Jeffery’s style was once compared to that of Randy Couture during a King of the Cage broadcast. He works from the clinch and uses dirty boxing to wear down his foe. When there’s more separation, as in the Allen fight, Jeffery can throw combinations with power, but he’s also likely to get tagged. He was on his way to another loss against Petroski before a mistake by his opponent led to a dominant position on the mat for the Niagara Top Team export. Jeffery could be in for a similarly hard time against Huckbody.

Huckbody was actually awarded a UFC contract after his win over Kyron Bowen on the Contender Series, but he elected to go back to the regional circuit and polish up his game some more before joining the big show. This is a gamble, but Huckbody has found success thus far with his win over Phillips in which he showed improved striking. While the finish technically came from a barrage of strikes to the downed Phillips, it all started with a head kick.

This fight’s outcome is largely dependent on Huckbody’s strategy. The grappler might not want to test his striking quite as much against Jeffery, who likely has the superior kickboxing skills. If it does turn into a stand-up affair, it could be a grueling war between these two men. If Huckbody plays to his own strengths, though, he should be able to find the victory. Jeffery was taken down repeatedly by Petroski, but the Factory X fighter didn’t have the submission game to stop the Canadian. Huckbody can succeed where Petroski failed. Perhaps a win over someone whose only losses have come to rostered UFC fighters will even convince Huckbody that he’s ready to take the next step in his own career.

Other key bouts: Jasmine Jasudavicius (4-1) vs. Ashley Deen (5-5), Yohan Lainesse (5-0) vs. Troy Green (4-0), Cedric Gunnison (2-0) vs. Charlie Campbell (2-1)

Legacy Fighting Alliance 101: The Undefeated
Grand Casino Hotel and Resort in Shawnee, Okla.
Event Date: March 12
Website: lfafighting.com
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Twitter: @LFAfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Anthony Kalani (5-0) vs. Tee Cummins (2-0)

The LFA’s 101st venture comes with a concept: undefeated upstarts. This lineup doesn’t feature any veteran names that might be familiar to LFA fans. Instead, it provides an opportunity to undefeated prospects who top out with five fights on their record. This could be the company’s chance to build homegrown stars who stick around for a few fights and gain some seasoning before they get snatched up by the UFC. The headlining affair features light heavyweights Anthony Kalani and Tee Cummins.

Kalani is the most experienced of the undefeateds on this card. The Hawaiian-born California resident needed just 21 seconds to post a successful pro debut in 2018 with a knockout of fellow rookie William Smith. Less than a month later, he added another finish via strikes, this time in the second frame against Jason Ehresmann, a veteran with an abysmal 6-23 record. Kalani’s next three fights, which resulted in a decision nod and two first-round stoppages, came against a trio of fighters who had just one combined fight under their belt.

Tennessee’s Cummins went 5-2 at the amateur level before turning pro in 2019. His debut came at heavyweight, where he scored a first-round TKO finish of Jay Wilson. Cummins added another knockout in early 2020 before shifting his focus to bare-knuckles competition. He won both of his bare-knuckles bouts as well. Cummins has spent much of his career as a cruiserweight — a small heavyweight who can make the 205-pound light-heavyweight limit when needed.

These two men are undefeated, but they lack the strength of schedule to make it to the UFC anytime soon. Kalani’s entire victim list combined for just a 6-24 mark and included three rookies and a winless pro. Meanwhile, Cummins topped a rookie and a fighter with a losing mark of 4-6. This leaves a lot of time for both men to develop under the LFA banner if the company embraces this chance to create stars who stick around for more than just a fight or two.

Cummins will fire off punches to close distance and get the fight to the mat. He’s not going to hunt for submissions, though. Instead, he overwhelms his opponent with ground-and-pound flurries. Thus far, he’s seen very little in the way of skilled competition and has therefore mauled his way through two fights.

Kalani has a successful background in Muay Thai competition. The Quinton “Rampage” Jackson protege is a finisher, but he went the distance against heavyweight Thomas Ferguson, who had 13 years between pro fights. He has a lot left to prove.

This fight could be sloppy fun. Kalani has power, but he could fall victim to the takedowns and ground-and-pound of Cummins. It wouldn’t be a shock to see a first-round finish here, most likely in the form of a TKO from Cummins.

Other key bouts: Jalin Fuller (4-0) vs. Treston Vines (4-0), Miguel Jacob (4-0) vs. AJ Nichols (6-2-1), Jaqueline Amorim (2-0) vs. Taisha Gandy (0-0), Hunter Colvin (2-0) vs. Obinwa Ikebunna (2-0), Alden Coria (3-0) vs. Rashaad Robinson (3-1), Mark Climaco (4-0) vs. Pololu Nakanelua (4-0), Abril Anguiano (3-0) vs. Marisol Ruelas (1-2), Elmar Umarov (2-0) vs. Cody King (1-2)

Rise Fighting Championship 6
Songhees Wellness Centre in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Event Date: March 13
Website: Facebook/RiseFighting
Watch Event: live stream on ImagineBC app
Twitter: @RiseFighting

Spotlight Fight:
Elias Theodorou (17-3) vs. Matt Dwyer (11-7)

All it took was one loss for Elias Theodorou to get ejected from the UFC. The Canadian’s setback against Derek Brunson led to his departure from the big show, but he has since added a win over a fellow UFC castoff. Now, the middleweight returns in the headliner for Rise Fighting Championship 6, where he’ll meet Matt Dwyer.

Theodorou, who also serves as the “ring boy” for Invicta Fighting Championships when he’s not competing, suffered the loss to Brunson on the heels of a three-fight winning streak. His only other losses inside the Octagon came to eventual light-heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos and solid middleweight Brad Tavares. “The Spartan” holds UFC victories over such notables as Sam Alvey, Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, Daniel Kelly and Eryk Anders. The 32-year-old had been a member of the UFC roster since 2014 and has been fighting professionally since 2011. While he does have six knockouts and two submissions on his resume, the majority of his wins have come on the scorecards. His losses have all been decisions as well. His one post-UFC fight came against fellow UFC vet Hernani Perpétuo, whom Theodorou stopped with ground-and-pound strikes in the third round.

The 31-year-old Dwyer has had an up-and-down career since he debuted in 2011. His record includes a number of familiar names, though. His first setback came courtesy of Marcus Aurelio, who would go on to make one appearance with Bellator MMA. Dwyer then went on the longest winning streak of his career with five victories, including stoppages of Shonie Carter and DeMarques Johnson. This led to a four-fight UFC stint in which he won just once, against William Macário, while losing to Albert Tumenov, Alan Jouban and Randy Brown. Dwyer has gone 3-3 since his UFC release. His most notable victories came against Jesse Ronson and Dominique Steele, but he most recently suffered through a three-fight skid in which he dropped bouts to Chris Curtis, KB Bhullar and Mikhail Ragozin.

While Theodorou isn’t always the most entertaining fighter, he tends to be effective against all but the very best he meets. He has never been stopped, and all of his losses came against opponents who resided in the top 15 of the UFC rankings or would go on to be ranked long after fighting the Canadian. Theodorou has suggested that his release from the company had a lot to do with his increasing salary. In terms of performance, he hardly deserved to be let go.

Dwyer can’t say the same. His UFC tenure was a disappointment. He entered the league on the strength of his victories over Carter and Johnson, both of whom had already seen the inside of the Octagon. However, the Canadian stumbled out of the gates and never recovered. Tumenov finished him in just 63 seconds, and he came up short while going the distance against Jouban and Brown. His only glimmer of hope was a first-round starching of Macário, but it’s difficult to hang one’s hat on a win over another fighter who went just 1-3 in their UFC run.

Dwyer’s UFC stint came in the welterweight division. Even at 6-foot-4, he easily made the limit and even checked in at 169 pounds for three of his four Octagon appearances. He’s often an undersized middleweight who has tilted the scales at 183 for a couple of his contests in the division. He’ll still enjoy three inches in height and an inch in reach over Theodorou, but he doesn’t use his length well. He was outstruck and had his nose broken by the shorter Curtis, and Tumenov nearly knocked his head off with two separate head kicks. Yet, the Havok Martial Arts product is one tough dude. He has twice lost by knockout, but he is ultimately a hard out, as proven in his fights with Curtis and Ragozin.

Despite Dwyer’s toughness, a lot of factors work against him in the cage. He’s a striker, but he lacks power. He doesn’t have strong wrestling or a good sprawl. He can get tagged or put on his back. He’s not especially dominant in the clinch, either. This gives Theodorou a lot of ways to expose his opponent.

Theodorou is excellent in the clinch and boasts a strong wrestling game. He’ll enter the cage as the much bulkier fighter, and this should lead to a pronounced strength advantage. “The Spartan” hasn’t shown any signs of decline, and this fight should be more proof that he still belongs in the big leagues. He’ll grind away at Dwyer and produce another late ground-and-pound TKO finish.

The Best of the Rest

Brave Combat Federation 47: Asian Domination: Abdysalam Uulu Kubanychiev (17-3) vs. Rolando Dy (14-9) Watch Event: Fite TV pay-per-view stream via Combat Press

Cage Fury Fighting Championships 92: Alberto Trujillo (5-1) vs. Phumi Nkuta (2-0) for the flyweight title Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass

Lux Fight League 12: Diego Lopes (18-3) vs. Masio Fullen (14-7) for the featherweight title Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass

Eagles Fighting Championship: Reset: Dmytro Predebaylo (12-7) vs. Denis Palancica (7-0) for the featherweight title

In Hindsight
Last Week’s Scorecard
Fight Prediction Outcome
Alexey Lyapunov vs. José Santana at MMA Series-27 Lyapunov by submission Fight canceled
Adriana Fusini vs. Josefine Knutsson at Fight Club Rush 8 Knutsson by knockout Knutsson by decision
Aya Murakami vs. Sakura Mori at Deep Jewels 32 Murakami by submission Fight canceled

While Knutsson, one of the world’s pound-for-pound best female kickboxers, couldn’t score the predicted knockout, she did utterly dominate Fusini through three rounds contested almost entirely on the feet…The other two previewed bouts were scrapped. The Deep Jewels contest was canceled when Mori missed weight…”Best of the Rest” selections Jason Knight, David Onama, Ilya Maksimov and Erzat Nurlan Uulu scored stoppage victories.