The regional scene picks up steam, and some international talent gets to shine in this weekendâ€™s regional MMA rundown.
Coming off the hangover of another UFC PPV weekend, the world outside of the big two begins to really trot out some notable talents.
The weekend action begins with ACB 80, live from Krasnodar, Russia. This card is headlined by a welterweight duel between former UFC fighter Albert Tumenov (18-4) and former Bellator and UFC competitor Nah-Shon Burrell (15-8). Tumenov rebounded in his post-UFC debut (after losses to Gunnar Nelson and Leon Edwards) with a spectacular knockout win at ACB 61 last May against Ismael de Jesus. Burrell has had an odd road since his UFC departure, returning to Bellator, then dabbling in the Mid-Atlantic and New England scenes. Heâ€™ll be coming off a decision loss from this past December against Beslan Isaev, but brings dynamic athleticism and a slick boxing game.
The co-main event is a tilt between Ali Bagov (24-10) and Leandro Silva (21-6-1 draw). Bagov is tearing things up in the lightweight division with his submission game, and has racked up back to back wins against Herdeson Batista and former Bellator fighter Bubba Jenkins. Silva had been released from the UFC in 2016, and had wins over Charlie Brenneman, Lewis Gonzalez and Efrain Escudero. Silva suffered losses at the hands of Francisco Trinaldo, Jason Saggo and Rustam Khabilov (also, the utter fiasco against Drew Dober, overturned to a no-contest). Heâ€™s found a new home at ACB, with a TKO win over Pat Healy, a decision loss against Joshua Aveles and a decision win over Islam Makoev last October.
Also on the card? Former Bellator fighter Alexander Sarnavskiy (35-6) vs â€œThe Chechen Wolfâ€œ Shamil Nikaev (8-0), who defeated Christos Giagos last September. Former UFC fighter Takeya Mizugaki (21-12-2 draws) will be ready to see some action against Murad Kalamov (8-2), while Evgeny Erohkin (17-6) takes on Khanif Mirzamagomedov (2-2!!). This event will be streaming live via FiteTV starting at 11:00am EST.
Friday night has two solid events, starting with Titan FC 48. Jose Torres (6-0) will be defending his flyweight title against Alberto Orellano (6-2). Interestingly enough, Torres is the dual bantamweight and flyweight champion for Titan FC. Seriously, the man has more belts than Ron Van Clief. Torres is an action fighter with wild scrambles and some wild striking exchanges. This card also features a lightweight title fight between Raush Manfio (10-2) and Lee Henry Lilly (6-2), as well as a welterweight title fight between Rami Hamed (6-1) and Jose Caceres (13-7).
Titan FC 48 will be streaming live on UFC Fight Pass, starting at 8:00pm EST.
Starting later on Friday night, LFA 33 has another very well-rounded card. V3 welterweight champion Jaleel Willis (5-0 amateur, 8-0 pro) faces Kyle Stewart (8-1 amateur, 8-0 pro). Willis has been fighting more and more experienced opposition as of late, while Stewart was on Dana Whiteâ€™s Contender Series, defeating Jason Jackson. Stewart also has a previous win over UFC veteran Estevan Payan. Former Bellator and UFC fighter Damon Jackson (12-2-1 draw, 1 no contest) takes on fellow Texan Chris Pecero (14-7). Jackson-Winklejohn product Maycee Barber (1-0 amateur, 2-0 pro) returns to the LFA cage to test herself against Kaila Thompson (2-2 amateur, 1-1 pro). Barber seems to be getting a lot of shine from LFA, and she just defeated Invictaâ€™s Mallory Martin by decision this past September. Also, former NFL player Greg Hardy gets some wider exposure as he faces 5â€™7 heavyweight Ryan Chester (3-1 amateur), who is making his professional debut. Some of you may remember that Hardyâ€™s last fight was a strange affair against Kenneth Woods, and it remains entirely possible that the UFC may be calling soon for the come up. LFA 33: Willis vs Stewart airs live starting at 9:00pm on AXS TV.