It seems like everyone always knows when the next UFC or Strikeforce event is. Every MMA site covers them exhaustively, everyone gets excited, and so on. But what about the events that don't get the TV treatment? What about the cards that house yesterday's stars and today's prospects? What about the international events that never get any play on this side of the world?
Even as a hardcore MMA fan, I'm often not aware of these local or international events until they've already passed, or I never hear anything about them at all. In an effort to combat my own ignorance and hopefully keep people apprised of a bigger slice of the MMA world, I've decided to write a weekly piece offering brief previews of the best smaller events from around North America and the world. Of course, I will also offer up results and whatever commentary necessary in the aftermath as well.
It might surprise you to know that there are over 25 notable MMA cards being held this week over 6 continents. It sure surprised me. Not all are worthy of space here, but here are a few that might interest you. I'll cover the international stuff in part 1, leaving the North American cards for part 2.
Brazil - Three cards, two with notable names. Recife Fighting Championships 4 (3/31) will offer up a co-main event featuring former UFC fighter Rafaello "Tractor" Oliviera (13-3) and veteran Oklahoma fighter Ryan Bixler (19-13-1). Tractor is on a 3 fight win streak since leaving the UFC, including wins over WEC vets Rafael Dias and Bendy Casimir. The main event will feature another former UFC vet Junior Assuncao (10-4) taking on TUF 8 vet Wes Murch (8-4). You can learn more about Murch here. This event can be streamed on gofightlive.tv for 9.99.
Asia - Yes, Japan's in Asia but it gets it's own category. Undoubtedly, the biggest card in the rest of Asia this weekend is the URCC 19 card in suburban Manila (4/2). Team Lakay members will take on other top Filipino fighters at the top of the card. The main event will be a rematch, with 8-0 pinweight champ Roy Docyogen taking on Alvin Ramirez (3-2). Docyogen took a unanimous decision in their first fight in 2009. 4-0 Angelito Manguray will defend his Lightweight Championship against undefeated Honorio Banario (3-0), and Kevin Belingon (8-0) will be defending his flyweight title against late replacement Isaac Tuling (2-1), filling in for Ryan Diaz.
Europe - Two UK events and one in France. Ulitmate Warrior Challenge 15 in Southend (4/2), featuring a main event of light heavyweight fighters Valentino Petrescu (9-2) vs. Fraser Opie (6-3). Knuckleforce in Tynemouth, featuring undefeated Team Rough House fighter Matt Howard (7-0) taking on Shaun Lomas (9-21). Lomas comes into this middleweight title fight with the dubious distinction of being on a 9 fight losing streak.
The French event, called Pancrase Fighting Championships 3, will take place in Marseille on April 2nd with a bunch of name fighters and different rules. MMA rules, but no ground strikes. A four man heavyweight tournament is on top, consisting of Kristof Midoux (6-10), new KSW champ Sokoudjou (11-8), UFC vet Branden Lee Hinkle (15-10), and Latvian tank Konstantin Gluhov (15-6). Ex-Strikeforce fighter Karl Amoussou (11-3-2) and French UFC veteran Samy Schiavo (10-6) are also expected to fight on the card, although Amoussou's participation is up in the air at this time.
Africa - Fight Force 12 in Durban (3/31). Dual main event matching up South African and Irish fighters. First one is Donavin Hawkey (5-2) vs. Lee McKibbin (3-7, coming off a loss to Jeremy Horn). The other is Martin van Staden (7-1, only loss to Brian Ebersole) vs. BAMMA vet Ali Maclean (6-5-1). Also fighting on the card is 4-0 prospect James Rennie.
Australia - Fury MMA 2 in Caloundra (4/2) has local Caloundra prospect Ryan Dunstan (4-1) taking on ZST regular Shinya Irei (5-3-1) in the main event along with 11 other fights, mostly following the premise of the first Fury MMA card by matching up young fighters in an Australia vs. New Zealand format.
Japan - Lots of stuff, as usual. The most relevant is likely Shootor's Legacy 2 (4/1). This card was delayed 3 weeks and lost a title fight (Sarumaru/Somdet was moved to the big 4/29 Charity card), but there's a good matchup on top between Yuki Shojo (10-5-2) and Noboru Tahara (9-5-1). A lot of the Shooto rookie champions will be competing as well, with the toughest matchup likely being between 143 pound rookie champion Yusuke Yachi (5-0-1) and veteran Wataru Miki (16-10-4). EDIT - Miki is now taking on Takayashi Ono (9-9-2), while the main event is now Kiyotaka Shimizu (7-3-2) vs Junya Kodo (8-3-2). Doesn't look like Yachi is on the card anymore.
The other big event is Pancrase's Impressive Tour 3, which will be highlighted by the first women's main event in Pancrase's long history, with Mei Yamaguchi battling "Windy" Tomomi Sunaba. In addition, there is a minor Shooto event on 4/3, and ZST will be running two cards in Tokyo on 4/3, Swat VTx3 during the day and Swat 40 at night.
In part two tomorrow on HeadKickLegend we'll attack the North American scene, which features a plethora of big names fighting everywhere from Victoria to Fort Lauderdale, and all parts in between.