Banners by Anton Tabuena
Much of the focus in the MMA world this weekend will be on Strikeforce's first major card under the Zuffa banner, which could have major ramifications for the sport in both North America and Japan. It's a light weekend for Japanese events, with Shooto being the only major promoter doing a show. Even Brazil's pretty light on shows. There's plenty of action elsewhere though, particularly in Europe, but we'll start this week's preview in one of my favorite countries - Mexico.
Author's note: Yes, I realize that a Mexican event could be included in "North American MMA" since Mexico is IN North America. I just feel like the NA focus is typically on America and Canada, so Mexico gets the spotlight on the international side of the bracket.
Mexico: XCage: Predators in Tijuana (4/8). Three fights announced so far, with very familiar names in two of them. TUF 8 winner Efrain "Hencho en Mexico" Escudero (15-2) will be looking for his third straight victory after his somewhat surprising Zuffa release. His opponent Ashe Bowman (9-8) will be stepping into the cage for the first time in 16 months and will be trying to break his three fight losing streak. This will be the second career fight in Mexico for Escudero, who's also scheduled to take on UFC vet Fabricio Camoes in Lemoore, CA at Tachi Palace Fights 9 on May 5th.
In the co-main event, WEC and UFC veteran Edgar Garcia (10-2) will be facing Bellator vet and Tijuana's own Edwin Aguilar (22-15) at 185 pounds. All of Garcia's Zuffa fights were at 170, but he will continue on at 185 after moving up to middleweight and picking up two quick wins following his release. Aguilar has rebounded from two Bellator defeats with two quick KO wins and will be looking to be the first man to stop Garcia via TKO.
The only other fight announced so far on the 8 bout card has welterweight prospect Felipe Portela (6-0) taking on Chris Ortega (3-0). If anyone from the area is interested, the weigh-ins for the event will take place tomorrow (4/7) at 2pm PST in the Hotel Pueblo Amigo, just south of the border in Tijuana.
Europe: Denmark and Germany are staging notable events, and there are 3 cards in the UK. We'll start in Herning, Denmark with Cage Fight Live 1, which is featuring fighters from seven different European countries on the card. The main event features someone you might know if you follow MMA reality shows. Austria's Philipp "The Gladiator" Schranz (10-5), who has been featured on the Wanderlei Silva show "Fighter Life", will be facing Danish fighter Rasmus Bendtsen (8-4) for the promotion's lightweight title. The co-main features another Dane, Morten Djursaa (7-3) taking on a BAMMA vet in England's Russell Smith (7-1) at welterweight. The full fight card can be seen here. The event can be streamed live here for 10 euros.
To read the rest, including cards in Brazil, Japan and a whole lot more, click here.
There are a whopping 30 cards that I've found so far that are happening this weekend in North America across 17 states and 2 provinces. Texas leads the way with 6 events, followed by Ohio with 4. Strikeforce is in California, Bellator is one of two events in Oklahoma, and MFC is running the second major card in Ontario's short MMA history. We'll leave these cards alone and move onto the next biggest card, which just happens to be going down in Canada. The Bell Centre in Montreal, to be exact.
Ringside MMA has been promoting events for two years in the MMA-mad Montreal area, but have stepped up to the big time for this event and booked the Bell Centre. To draw fans to such a big arena, you need a big main event, and Ringside MMA delivered with former UFC middleweight title challenger and Quebec native Patrick Cote (13-7) taking on a fellow Canadian, the imfamous Kalib Starnes (12-5-1). This is Cote's first fight since his departure from the UFC, while Starnes is looking to build on a two fight winning streak.
An interim welterweight title fight is the co-main, with undefeated BE's # 2 rated welterweight prospect Alex Garcia (6-0) facing TUF 11 cast member Seth Baczynski (12-6). The winner will face injured champion Chris Clements (8-4) on a future card. # 10 BE featherweight proespect Michel Gagnon (6-1) and Rejean Groulx (5-0) will also face off for the promotions 145 lb title.
Down in the Lone Star State, things are happening all over the place. Rogue Warrior Cage Fighting Championships is running El Paso (4/8) with a main event featuring TUF 10 participant and hometown boy Darrill Schoonover (10-3) facing Esteves Jones (6-1). UFC vet Rich Clementi (39-18-1) is also on the card, taking on Josh Hinkle (8-2).
24/7 Entertainment has a card called, fittingly, Professional Cage Fighting in Midland (4/8). Shark Fights vets take center stage with Cody Pfister (4-0) facing Anselmo Luma (4-2) at the top of the card, while WEC and UFC vet Will Campuzano (8-4) heads back to his home state for his first post-Zuffa fight, taking on Randy Hinds (6-3) in a FW tilt. King of Kombat has a card in Austin featuring SF and Bellator vet Nick "The Ghost" Gonzalez (16-9) and the historically underappreciated Jorge "Macaco" Patino (23-13-1) in separate fights.
Arlington is the host of Xtreme Knockout 10, with elite wrestler and former UFC featured fighter Jake Rosholt (9-3) taking on Texas veteran Brandon McDowell (32-29). And finally, Legacy FC is in Houston (4/9) with a whole host of young fighters and STFC 15 in McAllen.
To read the rest and/or see if there's a card in your area, click here.