While most American organizations will be taking the holiday weekend off, the rest of the combat sports world refuses to stop.
First on the docket is an early Saturday card starting at around 1:30am when DEEP 81 kicks off a 14-fight card headlined by Koichi Ishizuka vs Roman Alvarez. Ishizuka is coming off two straight losses, but has been a mainstay for the organization since his pro debut in 2011. His record includes victories over Makoto Kamaya and Toshiaki Kitada during a run that saw him go undefeated from 2011 to this past May with ten wins and one draw. His opponent will be “Sonic Boom” Roman Alvarez, who has all but one of his wins end due to a finish (with one DQ win). This card also has a featherweight title fight between Hiroto Uesako (13-6) and Takahiro Ashida (20-8-2 draws). Previews are available on their YouTube channel.
Also on the overnight tour, HEAT 41 has two title fights starting at 2:00am EST. Live from the Nagoya Congress Center Event Hall, Frenchman and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai alum Alan “The Black Samourai“ Baudot (6-1) faces Korean Top Team’s Da Un Jung (6-2) for the light heavyweight belt. The co-main is a middleweight title bout between Henrique Shiguemoto (11-3-1) against another Korean Top Team product in Jun Yong Park (6-3). Shiguemoto has wins over Yusuke Sakashita and Bellator’s Hisaki Kato. The main event is a fight between Sang Soo Lee and Japanese journeyman Kazuyuki Fujita, for... reasons, I suppose. If you remember Fujita’s record to not be good in any way over the past decade, check your pockets to see if you find a dollar, because a winner is you.
Starting at 3:00am Saturday, Korea kicks it off with Road FC 45, also known as ROAD FC XX 2. This card has the best women’s fight outside of the US all year as Seo Hee Ham (18-8) fights Jinh Yu Frey (6-2) for the atomweight title. Ham bounced back from her release from the UFC to win by TKO and earn the then-vacant belt, and now faces a brutal test in Frey.
Frey had a three win streak snapped due to a controversial doctor’s stoppage against Ayaka Hamasaki in an Invicta title fight, but turned it around to earn a win over Ashley Cummins in a tense, grappling-heavy affair. This card also features former RIZIN fighter Destanie Yarbrough, controversial pro-wrestler Yoshiko Hirano, as well as Chris “Huggy Bear“ Barnett. Again, be sure to check their YouTube channel for more goodies.
Around 1:00pm EST, ACB has a quietly talent-dense card with ACB 77: Vaslilevsky vs Duraev. Oddly enough, the titular fight is actually the co-main event, with Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (32-5) continues to carve a niche for himself after stints in M-1 and Bellator. He comes into this fight with a four-fight winning streak to face Albert Duraev (10-3) for the middleweight championship. Abdul-Aziz Abdulvakhabov (14-1) defends his lightweight title against Eduard Vartanyan (10-3) at the top of the card. Heavyweight Denis Goltsov (19-5) will have his hands full with ex-UFC and Bellator fighter Chase Gormley (14-6). Goltsov has faced a veritable who’s who of international talent, with wins over Peter Graham, Brett Rogers, Roy Boughton, James McSweeney, Mike Kyle, Paul Buentello and Konstantin Erokhin. Gormley has wins under his belt against Jon Madsen, Tony Lopez and Joey Beltran, as well as losses at the hands of Sergei Kharitonov, Dan Charles, Mike Whitehead, Stefan Struve and Brendan Schaub. The previously mentioned Konstantin Erokhin (9-3) is scheduled to fight Cory Hendricks (4-1), while Beslan Isaev (36-9) will deal with former Strikeforce, UFC and Bellator fighter Nah-Shon Burrell (15-7). ACB 77 will be streaming live via Fite.tv.
Finally, Sunday at 1:00am EST we are blessed with Pancrase vs Deep, a dizzying 19-fight card full of a little bit of all things MMA. That card is headlined by Yuki Kondo (59-33-9!!) vs (25-19-4). Both fighters have been in the game since 1996, and it’s odd that we see a card these days where the main event is comprised of two fighters that have been around since what was technically Bill Clinton’s first term in office.
Tons of fun this weekend for those of you that choose to avoid relatives or just want to get your fix of sportsmanlike violence. Happy Holidays to all, and save room for dessert as next week’s offerings come roaring through the final stretch of 2017.